This is a book I’ve been interested in reading for a while. It stars Leia about 20 years or so after Return of the Jedi. There are three major subjects in this book, one is directly stated, and the others are mostly hints. There will be some minor spoilers in this review, but I’ll keep them light. In fact I’m going to try to keep this review short.
Star wars: Bloodline is a very political book within the Star Wars Universe, exploring how the New Republic operates, and the schism between those who want a central figure in charge of the senate, and those who’d rather everyone get equal say. The Centralists vs. the Populists. Writer Claudia Gray does a good job pointing out the upsides and downsides to each, helped by the fact that there are two main perspective characters who lean to each side, Leia being a populist to prevent another Empire from rising, and Castefero, an optimistic young politician who sees too much meandering with what is currently a populist council.
At first they really don’t like each other, but as the book goes on they start respecting each other, especially when they need to investigate a group of arms smugglers based in a neutral planet. The mystery eventually leads to hints of the rise of the First Order and the birth of the Resistance. That’s all I’ll say on that matter.
The characterization is well done across the board. Leia has a bit more of a sense of humour than she did in the original trilogy, but that’s probably Han rubbing off on her. Castefero is a very deep character himself – he fancies himself a collector of relics from the Empire, yet at the same time he despised those in charge, Vader and the Emperor.
Their partnership is ruined however when Leia’s true origins are exposed. For years, she tried to keep her familial connection to Darth Vader hidden from the public, yet everything falls apart when her father’s Sith identity is revealed to the senate and broadcasted across the galaxy. It’s a great moment that really tests everyone around her, with some old friends refusing to speak with her.
While the concept behind this book is awesome and it mostly pays off well, I do have a couple complaints. I’d like to know why the New Republic is based on Hosnian Prime. It’s something that probably should have at least had a brief explanation in Force Awakens, considering we’re used to the core of the galaxy being Coruscant. With none of the characters having any emotional connection to the planet that we know of and little knowledge of the New Republic, it’s kind of hard to care. Even one sentence would have satisfied me. But enough about Force Awakens.
I enjoyed this book overall, enough to read more of Claudia Gray’s Star Wars material. The mystery about the arms dealers features just the right level of foreshadowing. The action, while sparse, is exciting. But I didn’t think it was anything too special. Fans of Leia will likely enjoy this book, as will those interested in learning some of the background politics that led to the current movie trilogy. That said, in some ways it feels like the book is trying to encourage people to buy more material to learn more about the New Republic. It’s fine to not give us all the details in the movie – Star Wars has never been the kind of franchise that needed to explain everything. However, it would be nice to get more than bare bones details for those who read the books.