Okay, so it’s been two months since I finished this book, but I remember so clearly the feeling of finishing it and sort of being gobsmacked at how good it was. Not that it’s flashy or anything. I’m not going to claim this book will change your life, or even change the way you look at reading or anything hyperbolic like that, but it did kind of change the way I look at Star Wars books. Claudia Gray just GETS Star Wars.
I read her first Star Wars book, Lost Stars, last year in prep for The Force Awakens and was surprised by that one as well. She brought so much emotional depth to this universe that I’ve loved for so long, and she did it in what was essentially a YA romance book (though that description doesn’t do it justice at all). That book also explored corners of the Star Wars universe I didn’t even know I’d been curious about. She does the same thing here with Bloodline, and she does it with two of the Big Three, even.
Leia is, of course, the focus, and hurray for that. This is the Princess Leia I’ve been dying to read about for years. She’s confident, badass, intelligent, and still vulnerable. It also dramatizes a moment in a very effective way that I’m surprised was never dramatized in the original Expanded Universe. Leia is the daughter of one of the most feared and hated men in the galaxy. That should have consequences.
This book is essentially a political thriller. There’s plot twists and turns galore. Conspiracies. Treachery. And I loved all the new characters, especially Ransolm, Leia’s chief political rival. Their relationship is the heart of this book, and I won’t say any more than that for fear of spoilers (and no, their relationship is not romantic, of course not). The conflict never feels forced. In fact, at times, it’s devastating, because Gray grows it organically not only out of her own constructed plot, but out of Leia’s existing backstory. (I feel it important to note that while Han is in this, and Leia mentions her son who is away training to be a Jedi with Luke, he’s only there for a couple of scenes. But I wanted to mention it because even in those scenes Gray made it clear that she understood him as a character, and the dynamics of their relationship.)
This book is also very useful in piecing together just exactly how the New Republic came to be so messed up in The Force Awakens, and how the First Order took advantage of their fracturing and polarization to sow chaos and mistrust.
Basically, this book is everything I want in a Star Wars book, and I want Claudia Gray to write nothing but Star Wars books from now on. Heck, it’s everything I would want in a sci-fi political thriller. I should probably check her other stuff out now, too . . .