TFN Review: Star Wars Bloodline
Reviewed by Dustin on May 13, 2016 |
The following book review is by fan of TheForce.net Ryan Donoho (donohonba@gmail.com) - If you are interested in contributing your own book reviews for fans to read here at TheForce.net just drop us a line!


Star Wars: Bloodline
by Claudia Gray


Set approximately six years before the events of The Force Awakens, Bloodline focuses on Leia and her view of the state of the galaxy decades after the battle of Endor. Although relative peace has been reached following the fall of the Galactic Empire, unrest in the senate is slowly rising as two factions, the Populists and Centrists, start to form and cause a rift in the New Republic.

Gray takes us on a journey centering around Leia that sets up The a Force Awakens better than any other piece of the new canon has done thus far.


THE STORY:
Claudia Gray proved her writing chops in her first Star Wars book, Lost Stars. She doesn't disappoint in this one either. The story could be described as a political thriller, as the story focuses heavily on politics, but has just enough action and intrigue to make it feel less like C-Span, and more like the Star Wars we know and love.

The two factions of the senate, the Populists and Centrists, have two entirely different ideals. The Populists believe in having the true power relegated to individual planets, while the Centrists believe in having the power go through a centralized government that rules over all (sounds a lot like the Empire to me). Leia is part of the Populists, and the book begins with a senate meeting on Hosnian Prime (the planet that gets blown up in The Force Awakens) that is in celebration of Leia's father, Bail Organa. Gray quickly notes Leia's growing doubt that peace in the galaxy remains, and explores her feelings about a future in politics.

From there, Gray injects some action as Leia takes on a mission on the planet Ryloth along side a Centrist senator Ransolm Casterfo, which sets up interesting contrasts and character development. The book moves on from there, with tidbits about Han Solo, Luke, Ben Solo, and even Chewbacca.

How Leia deals with the problems that come from her true father is something that is also touched in the book. Her connection to Darth Vader is felt by the senate, her family, and it puts a true strain on everything she has built and her candidacy for an important position. Gray really pulls you in and you can feel the tension after this story aspect is introduced.

The book wraps it up nicely, and packages the state of the galaxy and a need for The Resistance perfectly when it comes to The Force Awakens. The story does focus heavy on politics, but Gray's writing style states the needed details and moves along nicely. By the end of this story, you learn more about Leia, how politics strained the Solo family, and answers a lot of questions raised by the movie.


THE CHARACTERS:
Not only does Gray nail the character of Leia by paying homage to past material while giving us a new look at her, but the new characters introduced are a nice mix of deep and interesting. In a lot of Star Wars literature, it can be hard for casual fans to gravitate towards characters who don't show up in films and we haven't been introduced to yet. In Bloodline, the characters are interesting and not overshadowed by the legacy characters we have been with for 40 years. Senator Casterfo is a complex character who we see struggle with his views on the divide in the senate, and his story is one that keeps you interested throughout the book. The novel contains two predictable characters, Lady Carise Sindian and Joph Seastriker, who don't add much to the story but are entertaining nonetheless. Joph is a typical Star Wars pilot who reminds me a lot of Poe Dameron. Lady Carise is a politician who is all about being in the spotlight, and that leads to some memorable moments throughout.

All in all the characters are very strong, and we leave this book with a better understanding of the character of Leia. The inner struggles she goes through keeps you glued to find out what she decides to do at every turn. Her flashbacks to Luke, Ben, and Han can tug at the heart of every Star Wars fan.

The one downside of this book is the predictability. At times it is easy to predict what happens next and that will make the stakes feel lower. Also, the lack of action could be an easy turn-off for a lot of fans who love high energy stories told in the Star Wars universe.


FINAL THOUGHTS:
I loved the way Gray connected all of Star Wars in this book. We see the return of the senate pods that bring in prequel aspects, Leia's past as a 14 year-old imperial senator which we see in Rebels, and deals with the galaxy after the Galactic Civil War that we see in the original trilogy. It also answers a lot of political questions fans had about The Force Awakens.

One question I had after reading was in relation to Rey's parentage. Most theories I had and fans had formed were squashed after seeing where Han, Luke, and Ben were at the time of this novel. Without giving too much away, it definitely adds intrigue to the reveal of her lineage -- whenever we finally get that answer.


OVERALL SCORE:
8/10. Claudia Gray does a fantastic job of handling one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars saga while injecting fresh and fun new characters. She tackles politics in a way that makes it interesting, and her fast-paced writing style gives you just what you need to understand the story, while not bogging down the pace with adjectives that give too much detail. This was the best Star Wars novel I have ever read, and Claudia Gray should continue to get Star Wars books in the future.
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