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  • Rave reviews for previous Star Wars® adventures:

    HEIR TO THE EMPIRE

    “MOVES WITH A SPEED-OF-LIGHT PACE THAT CAPTURES THE SPIRIT OF THE MOVIE TRILOGY

    SO WELL, YOU CAN ALMOST HEAR JOHN WILLIAMS’S SOUNDTRACK.”

    —The Providence Sunday Journal

    “A SPLENDIDLY EXCITING NOVEL … READ AND ENJOY, THE MAGIC IS BACK.”

    —Nashville Banner

    “CHOCK FULL OF ALL THE GOOD STUFF YOU’VE COME TO EXPECT FROM A BATTLE OF GOOD

    AGAINST EVIL.” —New York, Daily News

    DARK FORCE RISING

    “CONTINUES [ZAHN’S] REMARKABLE EXTRAPOLATION FROM GEORGE LUCAS’S

  • TRILOGY.” —Chicago Sun-Times

    “ZAHN HAS PERFECTLY CAPTURED THE PACE AND FLAVOR OF THE STAR WARS MOVIES. THIS

    IS SPACE OPERA AT ITS BEST.” —Sunday Oklahoman

    THE LAST COMMAND

    “INTELLIGENT, FAST-PACED FUN, A WORTHY CONCLUSION TO THE TRILOGY.”

    —Chicago Sun-Times

    “FILLED WITH CHARACTERISTIC STAR WARS TECHNOLOGY AND COSMIC BATTLES … THE

    DETAIL AND PLOT DEVELOPMENT FAR EXCEED WHAT ARE POSSIBLE IN A TWO-HOUR MOVIE.”

    —The Indianapolis Star

    “ZAHN HAS BEEN FAITHFUL TO THE REGULAR

  • CHARACTERS, CAPTURING THE NUANCES OF THEIR PERSONALITIES TO THE POINT THAT

    READING THE BOOKS IS LIKE WATCHING THE MOVIES AGAIN AND AGAIN.… SIT BACK WITH

    THIS BOOK AND SAVOR THE FUN AND EXCITEMENT. IT MOVES AT THE PACE OF A STAR

    DESTROYER IN HYPERSPACE.” —The Flint Journal

  • This edition contains the complete text of the original hardcover edition.

    NOT ONE WORD HAS BEEN OMITTED.

    STAR WARS: THE COURTSHIP OF PRINCESS LEIA A Bantam Spectra Book

    PUBLISHING HISTORY Bantam hardcover edition published May 1994

    Bantam paperback edition / May 1995

    SPECTRA and the portrayal of a boxed “s” are trademarks of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

    All rights reserved.

    ®, TM & © 1994 by Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization.

    Cover art by Drew Struzan © 1995 by Lucasfilm Ltd. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in

  • any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

    For information address: Bantam Books.

    eISBN: 978-0-307-79628-8

    Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark O ce and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1745 Broadway, New York, New York 10019.

    v3.1

  • Contents

    Cover Title Page Copyright

    Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14

  • Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 About the Author Also by This Author Introduction to the Star Wars Expanded Universe Excerpt from Star Wars: Tatooine Ghost Introduction to the Old Republic Era Introduction to the Rise of the Empire Era Introduction to the Rebellion Era

  • Introduction to the New Republic Era Introduction to the New Jedi Order Era Introduction to the Legacy Era Star Wars Novels Timeline

  • G

    Chapter 1

    eneral Han Solo stood at the command console viewport of the Mon Calamari Star

    Cruiser Mon Remonda. Warning sounds tinkled like wind chimes as the ship prepared to drop out of hyperspace at the New Republic’s capital on Coruscant. It had been so long since Han had last seen Leia: ve months, ve months hunting the warlord Zsinj’s Super Star Destroyer, Iron Fist. Five months ago, the New Republic had seemed so secure, so in control. Maybe now, with the Iron Fist gone, warlord Zsinj would be crippled and things would go smoother. Han longed to get o the humid Calamarian ship, longed even more for the taste of Leia’s kisses, the caress of her hand on his brow. He’d seen too much darkness lately.

    The white star eld on the screen resolved as

  • the hyperdrive engines cut, and Chewbacca roared in alarm: across the blue velvet of space where the city night lights of Coruscant blazed from a dark world were dozens of enormous, saucer-shaped starships that Han recognized immediately as Hapan Battle Dragons. Among them were dozens of slate gray Imperial Star Destroyers.

    “Get us out of here!” Han shouted. He’d seen a Hapan Battle Dragon only once before, but it had been enough. “Full shields! Evasive action!”

    He watched the three dorsal ion guns of the nearest Dragon, expecting them to knock him from the sky. The blaster turrets on the saucer’s rim all swiveled toward him.

    T h e Mon Remonda twisted and dove planetward, toward the lights of Coruscant. Han’s stomach wrenched. His Mon Calamari pilot was well schooled, and knowing that they could not run before setting a new course, he surged into the thick of the Hapan warships so that they could not re without the risk of

  • hitting one another. Like all the technology on the Mon Calamari

    ship, the viewport was exceptional, a work of art, so that as they hurtled past the command port of a Hapan Battle Dragon, Han could make out the startled faces of three Hapan o cers, the silver name tags sewn into their collars. Han had never seen a Hapan. Their star sector was renowned for its wealth, and the Hapans guarded their borders jealously. He’d known that they were human—for humans had scattered like weeds across the galaxy—but he was surprised to discover that without exception, all three of the female o cers were astonishingly beautiful—like fragile, living ornaments.

    “Cease evasive action!” shouted Captain Onoma, a salmon-colored Calamarian o cer who sat at a control console, monitoring sensors.

    “What?” Han shouted, surprised that the lower-ranked Calamarian would reverse his orders.

  • “The Hapans are not ring, and they are broadcasting as friendlies,” Onoma answered, swiveling a large golden eye at Han. The Calamarian cruiser ceased its crazy headlong dive and slowed.

    “Friendlies?” Han asked. “They’re Hapans! Hapans are never friendly!”

    “Nevertheless, they’ve apparently come to negotiate a treaty of some sort with the New Republic. The accompanying Star Destroyers are theirs, captured from the Imperials. As you can see, our planetary defense forces are still intact.” Captain Onoma nodded up toward a Star Destroyer in another quadrant, and Han recognized its markings. Leia’s agship, the Rebel Dream. It had seemed so huge, so vast when they’d captured it from the Imperials, but here beside this Hapan eet, it looked small, insigni cant. Huddled around the Rebel Dream, he saw a dozen smaller Republic Dreadnaughts, their hulls still painted with the markings of the old Rebel Alliance.

    The rst time Han had seen a Hapan

  • warship, he had been smuggling guns with a small convoy eet under the command of Captain Rula. Since the Hapans hadn’t yet fallen to the Empire, the smugglers had been using an outpost in neutral territory near the borders of the Hapan star cluster, hoping that their proximity to the Hapans would keep the Empire o their back. But one day they came out of hyperspace and found a Hapan Battle Dragon hovering in their path. Even though they were in neutral territory, even though they made no aggressive moves, only three of the twenty smuggler ships managed to survive the Hapan attack.

    A communications o cer said, “General Solo, we’re receiving a call from Ambassador Leia Organa.”

    “I’ll go to my quarters and pick it up there,” Han said, and he hurried to punch up the call. Leia’s image appeared on the small screen.

    Leia was smiling, euphoric, and her dark eyes had a dreamy look to them. “Oh, Han,” she said in a breath, her voice mellifluous. “I’m

  • so glad you’re here.” She wore the pure white uniform of an Alderaanian ambassador, and her hair was down. In the past months it had grown longer than Han had ever seen it. In her hair she wore the combs he had given her, made from silver and opal mined on Alderaan before Grand Mo Tarkin blasted the planet to cinders with the first Death Star.

    “I missed you, too,” Han said huskily. “Come down to Coruscant, to the Grand

    Reception Hall,” Leia said. “The Hapan ambassadors are about to arrive.”

    “What do they want?” “It’s not what they want, it’s what they’re

    o ering. I went to Hapes and spoke with the queen mother three months ago,” Leia said. “I asked her for aid in our ght against Warlord Zsinj. She seemed very distant, noncommittal, but promised to think about it. I can only guess they’ve come to give that aid.”

    Lately, Han had begun to realize that the war against the remnants of the Empire might take years, even decades to win. Zsinj and

  • some lesser warlords were rmly entrenched in over a third of the galaxy, but the warlords now seemed to be on the move—pillaging entire star systems as they swept toward the free worlds. The New Republic could not patrol such a vast front. Just as the old Empire had struggled to repel the Rebel Alliance, the New Republic battled the might of the warlords and their vast eets. Han didn’t want Leia to get her hopes raised for a Hapan alliance. He said, “Don