Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Out of all the writers currently contributing to Disney-canon Star Wars novels, Claudia Gray is the one who stands out the most. She entered the Star Wars universe with young adult novel Lost Stars, which perfectly captures the Star Wars “feeling” while focusing on original characters outside of the movie experience. Her success with that book meant the powers-that-be at Disney wanted her to write Bloodline, one of the most interesting contributions to the Star Wars canon yet.

This book allowed Gray to focus on a key character from the movies: Leia Organa. Even though Bloodline was published months before the late Carrie Fisher’s death, any material focused on Leia feels like an appropriate tribute to both Fisher and her iconic representation of the role.

The story is years after the fall of the Empire, and the New Republic is incapable of learning from previous mistakes. Two factions, the Centrists and the Populists, divide the Galactic Senate. Leia tries to improve the system by volunteering for a risky mission to stop an offworld crime cartel. During this mission, Leia feels pressure to run as the Populist candidate for a position she does not support: that of the First Senator, a New Republic substitute for Chancellor. Bloodline balances many interesting elements, including that of action, political intrigue and excellent character developments. Leia, the main focus of Bloodline, works alongside several great new character. The definite highlight amongst those new characters is the young Centrist Senator Ransolm Casterfo.

Bloodline occurs six years before The Force Awakens (Episode VII) and, to my surprise, addresses many questions left unanswered by that movie. Do you want context as to why Ben turned to the Dark Side? Do you want to know how Leia reacted to the knowledge of her birth father post-Battle of Endor? Did you find it confusing that a governing senatorial body existed alongside the Resistance and First Order in The Force Awakens? Do you want to know how the Resistance and First Order conflict began? Perhaps the only burning Force Awakens question remaining after reading Bloodline is that of Rey’s mysterious parentage.

For those who don’t know where to begin in the Star Wars novel collection, Bloodline is excellent starter choice. It has obvious connections to the new trilogy, and provides a new focus on the saga’s most iconic characters. For follow-up reading and viewing, Lost Stars is an obvious choice, and The Force Awakens is a must for viewing. Written Star Wars content also include timelines to help you place the book in the universe chronologically, and find other books to read.

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