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In Legends junior novel Star Wars Trilogy: Return of the Jedi written by Ryder Windham, we learn that following Darth Vader's failure to capture Luke Skywalker at Bespin, a blockade of Tatooine was imposed.

Imperial Star Destroyers were among the ships in the blockade orbiting Tatooine. The blockade had been in place since Darth Vader had failed to capture Luke Skywalker at Bespin. It hadn't been easy for Luke's X-wing and the Millennium Falcon to avoid the blockade when they'd traveled to Tatooine to rescue Han Solo, but getting off had been relatively simple, thanks to R2-D2.

Even though the novel details how, thanks to R2D2, the Rebels managed to leave Tatooine after rescuing Solo, it only states that "It hadn't been easy" for the Rebels' ships to land on Tatooine.

So far, I've found only two references regarding the rebel ships could have bypassed the Imperial blockade and Luke and Leia attempt to rescue Han as follows:

In Legends "Siege of Jabba's Palace" in the Prelude:

...all of them having slipped through the Imperial blockade of Tatooine after starting at Kothlis's asteroid field. [no source]

in Canon novel Star Wars. Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure (2015) by Cecil Castellucci the following conversation between Luke and Leia:

"...The fleet's nearly assembled. Plus we have new intel about Han. He's still in carbonite in Jabba's palace. And I have a plan to get him out."

Leia looked down at her uniform. "I don't know your plan, but I've been thinking about a role I could play. I'll tell you about it when we reach Kothlis. And then we'll get Han and bring him back to us. Where he belongs."

The problem is that the two references don't help much in answering my question, thus, I would like to know if somewhere else (Canon, Legends, behind the scenes, commentary, novels, etc.) it is described how they managed to avoid the blockade to reach the planet and rescue Han Solo.

Still image from Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

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  • 2
    I mean, Han is a smuggler, no?
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 26, 2023 at 16:54
  • 1
    @JonCuster And a statue in Jabba's palace...
    – Shawn
    Oct 26, 2023 at 18:19

1 Answer 1

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This detail seems to have first appeared in the 1996 Return of the Jedi Radio Drama.

LANDO: Stay close, Luke. We're not out of the woods yet.

HAN: Well, we never will be, flying at this altitude. We're liable to knock some Tusken Raider off his bantha.

LEIA: We can't go for altitude yet. Check your long-range sensors and you'll see why.

HAN: Whoa! Imperial battle group. Star Destroyers, the works.

LEIA: Just waiting to jump any Rebel assault force that tried to rescue you from Jabba's.

LANDO: Which is why we had to go with Luke's plan.

Return of the Jedi Radio Drama, Episode 3: Prophecies and Destinies (via YouTube)

The conversation then shifts to R2-D2's plan to launch all of the smuggler ships in the vicinity at once to give the escaping Rebels cover, but doesn't directly address how the Rebels got past the blockade in the first place.

Speculatively, it seems like this plot point was introduced solely to explain why the Rebels had to free Han through the (somewhat convoluted) plan seen in the first act of Return of the Jedi, rather than sending in military forces to storm Jabba's palace. The radio drama doesn't directly explain why it was easier for Luke's X-wing and the Millennium Falcon to arrive than depart, but likely factors include a much more flexible timeframe and the possibility of arriving separately.

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