Star Wars: Bloodline Book Review
“Star Wars: Bloodline” is a solid Leia centric novel.
After penning the acclaimed novel “Star Wars: Lost Stars,” author Claudia Gray has returned to the “Star Wars” universe with a new novel titled “Star Wars: Bloodline.” The book (which takes place before “The Force Awakens”) is a Leia centric story that is set during her time as a New Republic Senator. While the political system is explored here, the bulk of the story finds Leia investigating a troubling rising criminal cartel with the help of a rival party Senator (Ransolm Casterfo). Of course, that’s not the ONLY story here as there are key subplots involving a Senate spy, Leia’s team (which is comprised of a thrillseeking X-Wing pilot named Joph, Leia’s assistant/former racer Greer, C-3PO, and and a staff intern named Korr), a manipulative Senator (Lady Carise), a proposed change in political leadership, and Leia’s past coming back to haunt her.
For those fans (like myself) that had so many questions about the New Republic, Leia, Han, the First Order, Hosnian Prime, and Mon Mothma after seeing “The Force Awakens,” there are SOME gaps filled in here. If you go into this book thinking you will get tons of backstory, however, you may be in for a disappointment as it doesn’t go into great detail about topics such as The First Order. One thing that is covered fairly well is the politics of the New Republic (which mirror our own in some relevant ways). Not only do you learn about the two main political parties with the Populists (those that believe each planet should Govern themselves) and the Centrists (those who desire a Galactic Government and a large military presence), but you also learn about Leia’s career as a Populist Senator. If you weren’t a fan of the politics in the prequel films, this may bore you to tears, but to those who felt “The Force Awakens” was far too vague on the post ROTJ universe (like myself), this book refreshingly fills in some major holes from a political perspective.
Politics aside, the book is largely a Detective story as Leia and a host of other characters (that I will get to in a bit) hop around planets investigating clues and discovering shocking revelations about the cartel and other associated factions. Truth be told, the investigation plot does get a bit tiresome after awhile, but it does serve its purpose in the grand scheme of things.
Perhaps the novel’s greatest strength is the characterization of Leia. “Bloodline” shows us an older and wiser Leia who has become tired and trapped by her political career. She’s losing faith in the decaying New Republic and wants to be with her family. Obviously, there’s more going on than just that, but I’m not spoiling everything. Suffice to say, it’s a rather touching and bittersweet portrayal of the character (especially with what we know now from TFA).
Leia’s scenes with Ransolm Casterfo (the novel’s best new character) also proved to be among the highlights here. Casterfo (a young smart pompous Centrist Senator who admires the Empire model but hates Vader and Palpatine) is a fascinating character who clashes and eventually gets along with Leia. Their engaging journey together throughout the novel is a primary reason “Bloodline” works as well as it does.
In terms of the other characters, they are a bit hit-and-miss. While Arliz, Joph, Greer, and Korr have their parts to play, I never found myself drawn to them. They felt like distracting side characters who took away from better scenes in the book. Lady Carise, on the other hand, turned out to be an intriguing character who wasn’t in the book nearly enough. I wanted to know more about her and whether or not she has an important role in something I will not reveal here.
No “Star Wars” book would be complete if it didn’t include some familiar faces. Not only are there a few original trilogy characters (like Han Solo), but there are even some brief appearances by a couple “The Force Awakens” characters as well. Personally, I found all of the film canon character stuff to be stellar as it expanded upon their characters.
Overall Thoughts: While “Bloodline” might be a tad frustrating in what it does and doesn’t tackle, it’s still a worthwhile read. It’s worth picking up just for the well written Leia and New Republic material alone.
Note: The end of the book contains an excerpt for the next “Star Wars” novel “Aftermath: Life Debt.”
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