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Bloodline (Star Wars) Paperback – January 31, 2017
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“Unmissable . . . Bloodline’s tense politics, vivid new characters, and perfectly characterized Leia make it feel as central to the Star Wars universe as one of the films.”—Tordotcom
“[Claudia] Gray paints a much more complete galaxy than we often get to see on the big screen. . . . Knowing that Rian Johnson (writer, director of Star Wars: Episode VIII) had some creative input on the novel provides hope that we haven’t seen the last of all of these wonderful characters. . . . Star Wars: Bloodline isn’t just a great Star Wars book, or a great Leia book, or a great book; it’s a great introduction into the larger world of Star Wars in general.”—ComicBookdotcom
“Bloodline is a nonstop page-turner that grabs at heartstrings that you weren’t aware of and yanks down on every one of them. The story is loaded with context for The Force Awakens that plants the seeds for The First Order in perfectly haunting ways, and leaves the reader grasping for more details on newly discovered favorite characters.”—Inverse
About the Author
Claudia Gray is the author of Star Wars: Lost Stars, as well as A Thousand Pieces of You and the Evernight and Spellcaster series. She has worked as a lawyer, a journalist, a disc jockey, and a particularly ineffective waitress. Her lifelong interests include old houses, classic movies, vintage style, and history. She lives in New Orleans.
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I’ll be honest, ever since Lucasfilm decided to set a “new precedent” for their Star Wars literature, relabeling the old as Legends and introducing the new as official canon, I haven’t been a huge fan of the books that have followed. Sure, some of them were okay, my favorites being A New Dawn, Aftermath, and Lost Stars. But I’ve waffled on which I liked more. While they were good, none of them really stood out as being my clear favorite. Well that is no longer the case.
Bloodline is now, by far, my favorite Star Wars book in the canon, ranking as high as some of my absolute favorite books from the old Expanded Universe, now Legends. And that’s saying a lot. While I won’t dive into spoilers in this review, here are some of my thoughts to get started with.
First of all, let’s talk politics, because the book certainly does . The Force Awakens had almost nothing to tell us about the political landscape of the universe, even less than we saw in the original trilogy. At least then we knew there was an Empire, an Emperor, a Senate that had been recently dissolved, etc. Bloodline takes place 6 years before The Force Awakens and it will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the state of the galaxy prior to the events of the film. Now, the funny thing about politics is that it’s become almost something of a dirty word among some Star Wars fans, due largely to the backlash of the politically-charged prequel films. Fortunately, one of the best mediums to present politics is in book form; we can get inside the heads of the characters, and suddenly it becomes a game we can participate in. Bloodline does this to perfection, and I might add that students of early United States politics might find some of the political arguments familiar.
But let’s move away from that and talk about characters. Princess Leia is the primary protagonist of the book, and Gray hit the nail right on the head. Everything about Leia, from her political views, to her pessimistic and impatient demeanor, to her relationships with other characters, represents realistic growth for her character from when we saw her in Return of the Jedi. Other characters, though not given the same spotlight as Leia, are quite interesting. Gray is able to present likable characters despite completely different viewpoints. Gray’s last Star Wars book, Lost Stars, did something similar by having the two main characters take opposite sides of the war between the Rebellion and the Empire. Both were likable, relatable, but still had completely opposing views. Perhaps the most likable character in Bloodline, besides Leia herself, was a senator who existed on the opposite side of the political spectrum from the princess.
Lastly, if you’re a chronology fan like myself, you will find this book fascinating. The book is full of clues and events that will inform your viewing of The Force Awakens. Since these events are considered canon, we can rely on their accuracy. I won’t spoil anything here, but I promise that this book will change the dialogue that fans have about The Force Awakens, in a big way. It answers questions.
Bloodline is literary gold even outside of the Star Wars universe. It’s one of the best science fiction books I have read. Bloodline makes you think, it makes you cry, it makes you want to jump up and down in fanboy/girl glee. The only thing it won’t do is make you stop reading. So the remaining question is: why are you still reading this review and not reading Bloodline?
Review originally posted on my site: [...]
Claudia Gray's first young adult SW novel, Lost Stars, was a surprise hit. Fans were ravenous for more and she delivers with Bloodline. While this book is very heavy with the politics, Gray manages to make it interesting with her deft writing and handling of them rather than tedious. There's plenty of action and humorous moments as well, Bloodline feels like a Star Wars adventure.
I felt Leia was criminally underused in Episode VII, however I was unsure if she could be a strong character in her own solo novel. I was mistaken, the tight character focus on Leia was excellent. Gray weaves together some other multidimensional supporting characters but this book is all about Leia. She's jaded, having lost faith in the New Republic and we see her struggling to find her place in the galaxy. Her relationship with Han and Ben is lightly explorered, but best of all we see Leia as she was in the original trilogy. In action, taking charge, journeying around the Galaxy. Leia is struggling with her heritage, both as Vader's daughter and princess of the destroyed Alderaan... struggling to reconcile these roles.
I'd highly recommend reading Bloodline, especially if you plan on seeing Episode VIII. No doubt some elements will play into the film as the director, Rian Johnson, contributed to the novel.
Essentially, this novel helps fans understand two of the big questions we asked after The Force Awakens was released: where did the New Order come from and why did the New Republic allow the New Order to flourish if Princess Leia is pushing the Resistance? I don't want to give away too much of the book, but it is great and throws a wonderful political spin into the SW galaxy without making it all about Politics.
This is a great novel that treats the character of Leia right (unlike the terrible comic book run) and adds to the Star Wars tapestry, filling in important gaps. Stop reading this review and start reading the novel!