Publisher: Del Rey (Trade Paperback – 16 August 2022)
Series: Star Wars
Length: 348 pages
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Outstanding author Beth Revis presents an intriguing and enjoyable new entry in the extended Star Wars canon, with the fantastic tie-in novel, The Princess and the Scoundrel.
2022 has been a rather interesting year for Star Wars fiction. While the focus has primarily been on the High Republic sub-series, several great authors have produced some awesome reads set around the various film trilogies (such as Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen). However, one of the most exciting recent Star Wars tie-in novels is a character-driven read that focuses on the relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia, The Princess and the Scoundrel, which was written by exciting author Beth Revis. Revis, who already has some experience with the Star Wars canon, having written the 2017 novel, Rebel Rising, came up with an awesome story in The Princess and the Scoundrel that I had a wonderful time reading. Not only does The Princess and the Scoundrel explore an interesting period of the complex and inspiring Star Wars canon, but it also contained a fantastic romantic heart that will appeal to a wider range of readers.
The Death Star is destroyed. Darth Vader is dead. The Empire is desolated. But on the forest moon of Endor, amongst the chaos of a changing galaxy, time stands still for a princess and her scoundrel.
After being frozen in carbonite, then risking everything for the Rebellion, Han is eager to stop living his life for other people. He and Leia have earned their future together, a thousand times over. And when he proposes to Leia, it’s the first time in a long time he’s had a good feeling about this. For Leia, a lifetime of fighting doesn’t truly seem over. There is work still to do, penance to pay for the dark secret she now knows runs through her veins. Her brother, Luke, is offering her that chance—one that comes with family and the promise of the Force. But when Han asks her to marry him, Leia finds her answer immediately on her lips . . . Yes.
But happily ever after doesn’t come easily. As soon as Han and Leia depart their idyllic ceremony on Endor for their honeymoon, they find themselves on the grandest and most glamorous stage of all: the Halcyon, a luxury vessel on a very public journey to the most wondrous worlds in the galaxy. Their marriage, and the peace and prosperity it represents, is a lightning rod for everyone in the galaxy—including Imperial remnants still clinging to power.
Facing their most desperate hour, the soldiers of the Empire have dispersed across the galaxy, retrenching on isolated worlds vulnerable to their influence. As the Halcyon travels from world to world, one thing becomes abundantly clear: The war is not over. But as danger draws closer, Han and Leia find that they fight their best battles not alone but as husband and wife.
I had a fantastic time getting through The Princess and the Scoundrel as Beth Revis wrote a pretty awesome and captivating Star Wars novel that covered a lot of bases. Split between the alternating perspectives of Han and Leia, The Princess and the Scoundrel takes off right after Return of the Jedi. While the victorious Rebellion plans their next moves, Han and Leia decide to make the most of their sudden freedom to get married after their traumatic year apart. While both are still reeling from the events of the original trilogy, they come together in a fun wedding scene, before leaving on a glamorous trip that will be part honeymoon part propaganda show. While initially trying to enjoy their honeymoon, both quickly fall into their old patterns, with Han chafing at the formality, while Leia continues to try and do her work as an ambassador and planner. Arriving at an isolated ice planet, Han and Leia soon discover a destructive Imperial plot and must come together as a couple to thwart it. This ended up being a really distinctive read, as Revis worked a more romantic plotline into the always entertaining Star Wars canon. I loved seeing this fantastic tale of Han and Leia’s first adventure as husband and wife, and Revis ensured readers got an excellent blend of action, intrigue, and character development, as you witnessed these two amazing protagonists try to come together as a married couple. There is a little something for everyone in this great read, and I found myself getting caught up in the action and the impressive focus on two of my favourite fictional characters. An overall brilliant book that is really easy to enjoy and appreciate.
The Princess and the Scoundrel proved to be a very interesting addition to the current Star Wars canon. While the romance between Han and Leia was strongly explored in the previous Legends canon, the current Disney canon has not featured it as much, and as such you see some fascinating events from their lives here for the first time. Revis paints quite a fun picture of the sudden wedding these two have, which features entertaining interruptions from several key characters, some tricky manoeuvrings from Lando to get Han into a nice outfit, and, of course, a ton of Ewoks, while the honeymoon is as chaotic as you would expect from these two. As such, this is a pretty key book for all fans of these two iconic characters, and I think that Revis hit an excellent tone when it came to some of these key events. The author also fits in a lot of fantastic references and moments that a lot of Star Wars fans will appreciate, most of which are covered in a very fun way. For example, the characters finally address that infamous kiss between Luke and Leia at the start of The Empire Strikes Back, with Han and Luke having a rather awkward conversation about it, before agreeing never to bring it up again. Revis also makes quite good use of an interesting Han Solo villain from one of the previous canon books, and it was great to see some continuation from the previous intriguing storyline. That, and several other amusing references, help to make this quite a key book for Star Wars fans, and I had a wonderful, nerdy time getting through it.
Aside from the direct references to the book, I was personally intrigued to see more about the period of Star Wars history that occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Death Star’s destruction in Return of the Jedi. Despite the death of the Emperor, the war between the Empire and the Rebellion (now renamed as the New Republic), is still ongoing, and indeed some of the toughest fighting is still to come. Several authors have covered this frenetic period in the current canon with some recent books, such as the Alphabet Squadron trilogy by Alexander Freed (made up of Alphabet Squadron, Shadow Fall and Victory’s Price). However, I particularly enjoyed how The Princess and the Scoundrel covered this period, as it shows events literally hours after the end of the film. Quite a bit is shown of the Rebellion’s initial strategies following the battle of Endor, as well as the Empire’s reactions to the death of the Emperor and the sudden shift in power. While some of the wider campaigns aren’t shown, you get an interesting idea of what the military and political situation was at the time, which I deeply enjoyed. Revis also spends time examining how members of the general public reacted to the news, and there is an interesting variation of responses. Not only did some people straight out disbelieve that the events even occurred, with many assuming it was fake propaganda from the Rebellion, others who were associated with the Empire, or who had members of their family aboard the Death Star, acted quite hostile to the change in the established status quo. These diverse reactions not only reflected some current real-world societal issues, but also provided a compelling insight into just how much influence the Empire had, even on the way to its downfall. Throw in some hints and previews of the upcoming Operation Cinder, and this proved to be a very interesting addition the Star Wars canon that many established fans will really enjoy.
One of the strongest elements of The Princess and the Scoundrel is its impressive focus on the two main characters, Han Solo and Princess Leia. While this book does contain a lot of action, intrigue and fantastic Star Wars elements, at its heart it is a romance novel between two well-established and complex characters, both of whom have experienced a lot of trauma and anguish in recent years. Revis does a remarkable job of diving into both characters throughout the course of The Princess and the Scoundrel, and you really get a sense of their feelings, concerns and traumas following their victory. However, there is also a great focus on their relationship, and you can really see the strong bond they have, even if they are still coming to terms with their feelings and their wildly different personalities. I felt that Revis painted a realistic view of their relationship, which contains some difficulties early on, especially with their independent streaks. However, the author also shows that the two characters are much stronger together, and they can work through any issues that come their way. I think that this much better than just showing them having a fairy tale relationship, and I really appreciated the authors compelling take on one of the most iconic relationships in fiction.
Aside from their relationship, Revis also did a great job of diving into the complex emotional issues facing both central characters. For example, Revis makes sure to explore the trauma surrounding Han after being trapped in carbonite for over a year. Not only did he miss out on a lot of key events in his friends’ lives, but at this point of the book he has only been awake again for a few days, and some of his decisions are based on his concerns and fears about being trapped again. Leia is also going through a lot after the discovery that Luke is her brother and, more importantly, that Darth Vader was her father. As such, Leia spends much of the book attempting to reconcile the fact that her real father was a genocidal maniac who tortured her and is partially responsible for destroying her home planet. This proves to be quite a deep and intriguing part of her character arc, especially since, unlike her newly discovered brother, she is unable to forgive Vader for everything he did. There is also an interesting look at Leia’s early attempts to connect with the Force, after Luke reveals her Jedi potential. Watching her attempts at using the Force is very fascinating, especially as she battles with her feelings about Vader while doing so and is reluctant to even try to use the abilities that he could do. All these unique character examinations, and more, really help to showcase just how complex and traumatised Han and Leia were at this period, and how much their relationship helped them get past it.
Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis is an amazing read that provides Star Wars fans with something a little different to the typical tie-in novel. Featuring a continuation of one of film’s most iconic romances, The Princess and the Scoundrels is at times touching and romantic, while also exploring the grim realities of the war-torn galaxy, all topped off with some classic Star Wars action and humour. With an outstanding focus and understanding of its two main characters, The Princess and the Scoundrel was a fantastic novel that is well worth checking out.