Watching Star Wars: A New Hope for the first time, my 6-year-old daughter immediately glommed onto the character of Princess Leia. This wasn’t surprising in the least—I did pretty much the same when I was her age. But with the exception of a Golden Book, published in 1997 and now heinously out of print, children’s books featuring the Alderaan royal are few and far between. While Star Wars: Escape From Darth Vader doesn’t mend the gap per se, it’s one of the rare stories to cast Leia as the central human protagonist. Part of Disney Publishing’s “World of Reading” series, the book retells the opening scenes of Episode IV, just before Leia is captured by “mean and scary” Darth Vader’s forces.
Despite the inevitability of her situation, Leia is no damsel in distress. She loads the Death Star plans into R2-D2, blasts her way through a phalanx of stormtroopers, and responds to Vader’s inquiries with her characteristic stiff upper lip. Still, it’s more of the droids’ story than the princess’s. As C3-PO and R2-D2 decamp from the Death Star to the “very sandy planet” below, destiny beckons in the form of a lonely farm boy and a grizzled paladin.
Leia will have to wait, at least for now.