I actually went into this book with no expectations or spoilers whatsoever (not the same when I l subsequently picked up the Thrawn books – but more on that trilogy later ;-))
Soooo the New Republic is trying to establish itself and set up powerful alliances – enter: The Hapes Consortium. Hapes is an extremely rich and powerful planetary system which apparently escaped the Empire/Rebellions notice until after the war. Hmmmm. Anyways, in order to secure the alliance, Leia must marry the smouldering Hapian Prince Isolder. As Leia ums and ahs over this, Han, sensing he might be in danger of losing Leia, whisks her away* to the planet Dathomir in an attempt to win her back. Luke and Prince Isolder team up to track the pair down, only to find that Dathomir is home to force wielding ‘witches’. Cue a lot of hey-nonny-nonny, an Imperial fleet, some concussion missiles, force lightning all over the place and, somewhere in this madness…a wedding!
Dathomir itself is a great planet and Dave Wolverton created himself a fun playground to set a lot of this story’s action. From the vast plains and wreckage of the felled spaceship to the storm lashed mountains of the Nightsisters’ home, this was a fully realised world, great fun to explore and a welcome break from the now-familiar Coruscant.
I also really liked Luke’s portrayal in Courtship. He was starting to mature as a Jedi whilst still retaining some of his original farmboy charm. Luke also gets some great fight scenes in this book, first with Teneniel Djo and subsequently with the Nightsisters.
I don’t believe for one minute that Emperor Palpatine, who masterminded Order 66, wiping out almost every Jedi and enslaving entire planets under the heel of the Empire would for one minute not stuff out a couple of tribes of force wielding women. Either they would have been crushed or they would have been brought over to the dark side as powerful minions of his. Just leaving them to their own devices as long as they don’t leave the planet is just not something I can believe Palp would have done.
Plus, my major major gripe – it does detract somewhat from Luke being the ‘only’ hope (maybe save for Leia) if in fact there is an entire planet full of potential Jedi. It cheapens the climactic battle of Luke vs Palpatine vs Vader knowing that actually he’s not really the last Jedi after all.
Finally, Han and Leia were wildly out of character in this book. Han, with all his cockiness and cynicism, panicking because some ken-doll prince is coming on to Leia just doesn’t add up and then KIDNAPPING her?? Facepalm. But on the flip side, by taking Leia to Dathomir, the story does really kick off. Dathomir is a great setting where lots of fun and interesting action takes place so, you know, in the words of Threepio; ‘Han Solo! What a man!’.
Overall – a fun story but some of the characters are just too out of whack for my liking.
Rating: 3 out of 5 death stars for Courtship!