Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray
Published: December 1st 2016 by Arrow
“There was a limit to the amount of stupidity Leia could tolerate in one day, and she’d just hit it.”
Witness the birth of the Resistance
When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.
Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.
As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing…
Bloodline is the first full length new cannon novel that is set closer to The Force Awakens than it is The Return of the Jedi and is penned by Claudia Gray who brought us the Star Wars YA novel, Lost Stars and went on to write another YA Star Wars novel about Princess Leia in her younger days (both of which I need to read as soon as possible) and is considered by some to be the best modern Star Wars writer.
This was the second Star Wars book I’ve read (that wasn’t a novelisation) and my favourite so far even after having read others. Unlike Phasma, I read this book rather than listened to it (as it was a Christmas eve Jólabókaflóð gift) and I’m glad I did as I don’t think the sound effects would have added much more than an annoyance in this book as it’s not as action based. I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this book, I love Princess Leia but I was having prequel film flash backs about trade negotiations. That being said I managed to read half of the book in one sitting through Christmas eve on into Christmas morning so this book clearly did more than something right.
Set six years before The Force Awakens, Bloodline is an excellent mix of political thriller and intrigue with a healthy sprinkling of action throughout once the story gets going. The beginning of the book is a little slow but I appreciate that although we don’t necessarily need world building in the usual sense we do need to know about the political state of things, in this case that’s the goals and ideals of the populists and the separatists. Gray’s clever writing style here (and throughout) allows us to see that neither side is perfect (as is often the case with politics) and more importantly that due to their unwillingness to work together nothing important is getting done and change is needed, prompting the entire senate to want to elect a first senator, which Senator Leia feels comes a bit too close to repeating their mistakes that led to the creation of the Empire. I think the mix of politics and action felt right, especially for a story mostly centered around Princess/Senator Leia and I enjoyed it.
My favourite thing about Bloodline was how well Senator Leia was written and portrayed. It honestly felt like Carrie Fisher could just jump right off the page it felt so genuine. Gray has captured that complex mix of being still feisty but wise and yet sometimes tired of it all and unsure perfectly. I enjoyed the insight into Leia’s family life here, we get to see her interact with her husband Han Solo which is pretty much how I always imagined it as well as seeing her she feels about her son and the situation he’s currently in and how the events of this book will affect them as well.
The relationships in this book were done exceptionally well. Not just between Han and Leia but the way the characters reacted with each other was the heart warming side of semi realistic, one of those stories when there are two people who believe in different ideals but put their differing views aside for a common goal, I really enjoyed seeing that and it made it more difficult to ascertain who exactly was the “bad guy” in this book.
I can’t say too much more without heading into spoiler territory but I will say that I loved this book and it had the right balance to keep me intrigued. The only thing I do regret is the order in which I’ve read these books, I probably should have at least started with this one, if not Catalyst but that’s another story and discussion for another time.