On the plane ride to Oregon this week, I finished reading a new book. If you’re looking for a good read in the Star Wars universe, I highly recommend you check out the recently published Bloodline. This story focuses on the late Carrie Fisher’s character, Leia Organa, in the years leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
I immensely enjoy Claudia Gray’s writing, which I was introduced to with the release of Lost Stars in 2015, and I am impressed that her attempt to capture the political struggle for the “New Republic” weaves so well with a story of criminal and political intrigue.
“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.”—ComicBook.com
Gray, intentionally or not, also taps into familiar feelings for many Americans with her introduction of a largely two-party political system consisting of the “centrists” and the “populists”. One side leans toward supporting the core worlds of the galaxy, even if that means leaning sympathetic to the old Empire’s ways, while the others demand more involvement in the new political spectrum. No matter what side you are on, the tension is real and reflects heavily on the same tension many are feeling here in the USA following a rocky election cycle.
This familiarity gave some real weight to the story that Gray tells with his novel, and just like the real world, she gives credit to both sides of the system, so even when we feel like we “know” the bad guys, we can’t help but feel like many of them aren’t the worst.
Outside of the political thread, we’re also introduced to several characters that follow the path of criminal investigation.
While this part of the story felt a little weaker than the political spectrum, it was also the meat of the story that reminded me I was reading a Star Wars novel. In a way, this might be the biggest detractor from the novel itself and is the reason I paused halfway through this one rather than punching all the way through. Political intrigue is great, but without lasers and space swords, the adventure starts to feel a little lacking in the Star Wars.
As a final added bonus, this story is set much closer to Episode 7 than any other novel in the new EU that I have read and, as a result, I feel like the story told here sheds at least a little light on how things got to where they were by the time we’re introduced to Rey and the First Order, which makes up for the lack of adrenaline adventure offered in other novels.
I really like what Gray did in this story. Frankly, if Episode I had approached galactic politics this way, I might well have enjoyed The Phantom Menace a lot more!
I’m giving this one 4/5 death stars: