My Star Wars (Life) Reviews – Bloodline by Claudia Grey

If you haven’t read Bloodline by Claudia Grey then tread lightly because there are SPOILERS ahead.

You have been warned.

When Bloodline was announced I was immediately excited. I had loved Claudia Grey’s previous entry into the Star Wars Canon, the Young Adult novel ‘Lost Stars’, a book I bought just because it was Star Wars and I wanted to keep up to date with the Canon timeline and I ended up becoming completely engrossed in it.

Where ‘Lost Stars’ focuses on new characters with brief cameo’s from Legacy Characters (Tarkin and Leia), ‘Bloodline’ centres on Princess Leia six years prior to the events of ‘The Force Awakens’. She is a well respected Senator in the New Republic who in the midst of an investigation into criminal activities is blindsided by a colleague, and new friend Ransolm Casterfo who announces to the Senate that Darth Vader is Leia’s father. She is shunned by the political community but manages to thwart an impending attack from a well funded military group which drives her to form The Resistance.

Where ‘Lost Stars’ and the ‘Aftermath’ trilogy deal with events post-ROTJ within a year of the destruction of the Second Death Star, ‘Bloodline’ gives us a glimpse at the galaxy during the New Republic at its most prominent. The senate is split between two factions, the Populists who believe that planets and systems should be in charge of themselves but still part of the New Republic and the Centrists who believe that the Galaxy needs a strong ruler who will bring order to the galaxy, but not like the Empire.

Leia and Casterfo are on opposite sides politically and after their initial differences, specifically over Casterfo’s collection of Imperial artifacts, their first mission investigating a Nikto criminal, Rinnrivin Di, they start to develop a close friendship. Their friendship is a great device to show the differing political views without bogging the novel down with a pair of political manifestos.

The secondary characters, Greer, Joph and Korr Sella are well fleshed out and we genuinely care for the three of them through the book. Joph is a young, hotshot pilot who reminds me a bit of Kaz from ‘ Star Wars: Resistance’. Greer is Leia’s assistant who used to be a racer with Han Solo before she fell ill with bloodburn, a condition that affects pilots. She’s a tough cookie to crack but once she lets you in she’s warm and fluffy. Korr Sella should sound familiar, she was seen in ‘The Force Awakens’ on Hosnian Prime as it’s about to explode. She was also featured in a Leia-centric deleted scene where the Resistance leader sends her to the Senate to warn them of a First Order attack. In the novel she is Leia’s aide who quits when Leia’s parentage is revealed but returns to the fold after realising that Leia is in no way like Vader.

There are a handful of antagonists, Rinnrivin Di, the Arliz Hadrassan and the Amaxine Warriors and Lady Carise Sindian, who is the real mastermind behind the sinister machinations that befall our heroes.

Sindian’s plan is to have the Senate elect a leader, called ‘The First Senator’ with the hope that it will filled by a Centrist which would allow an easy transition when the First Order, which she is a financier of, is strong enough to take control of the Galaxy. However a Centrist nominee is never appointed. The Populists nominate Leia based on her history, knowing that someone who fought against the tyranny of the Empire would never follow in the Emperor’s footsteps. After Sindian finds a recording of Bail Organa admitting to Leia that Anakin Skywalker was her father and he became Darth Vader she uses Leia’s friendship with Casterfo, who has a strong hatred of Vader, against Leia by giving Ransolm the message, causing him to feel betrayed by Leia and making the news public, forcing Leia to withdraw her candidacy.

The other plot of the novel, Leia and Casterfo’s investigation into Rinnrivin Di uncovers the Amaxine Warrior plot, to attack the New Republic. Hadrassian bombs the New Republic Senate building, which Leia manages to usurp by finding a warning message (believed to be from Ben Solo) and manages to evacuate the building before the bomb goes off.

Once Leia is outed as Vader’s daughter she continues the investigation and manages to not only download enough evidence into C-3PO to incriminate Rinnrivin Di and the Amaxine Warriors, but in her escape manages to kill the Crime Lord and destroy the Warriors stronghold along with the majority of the army and it’s arsenal of weapons and Starfighters and is rescued by none other than Han Solo.

One of the main reasons I love this book is that we get into Leia’s head. We find out she has had enough of politics and wants to travel the Galaxy with Han. But her sense of duty, especially when her candidacy to the role of ‘First Senator’ is a possibility that she feels she must run for the position. She misses Ben who, at this point, is off with Luke travelling the Galaxy, we also learn that Ben has no idea that he is Vader’s grandson. Given that this book is set six years prior to ‘The Force Awakens’ it really sheds light into how long Ben has been Snoke’s apprentice and how long Luke has been AWOL.

Another thing I love are the connections made to the Sequel Trilogy. We get Snap Wexley in a few scenes, Doctor Kalonia also appears (she’s the Doctor who calls Chewie “brave”) and of course Kor Sella has a large role. Two characters, Senator Tai-Lin Garr and Joph Seastriker are both from Gatalenta, the homeworld of Vice-Admiral Holdo.

The Original Trilogy is also well referenced of course, the best of all is that, after Leia killed Jabba the Hutt she became a hero to the Nikto race because Jabba used them as slaves, this leads to Leia being referred to as ‘Huttslayer’ which, in the real world, is now what the ‘Slave Leia’ outfit is called after some backlash a few years ago. Granted, it’s a much cooler name now.

The book is well paced, brilliantly written and has cemented Claudia Grey as the number one author of Princess Leia, after this, Grey wrote ‘Leia: Princess of Alderaan’ which is a beautiful companion piece to this book. Where ‘ Bloodline’ tells us about the end of Leia’s political career, ‘Leia: Princess of Alderaan’ tells us how her political career began and it became obvious that Claudia Grey knows how to write the Leia character.

As I said before, the new characters are great and I want to see more from them in future media, especially Joph and Greer whose fates are still unknown at this point.

‘Bloodline’ is truly one of the best Star Wars novels, not only in the new Canon, but of all time, it’s an action-packed political thriller that gives insight into the state of the galaxy between the Original and Sequel trilogies, a time period not explored much at all and I can’t recommend it enough.

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