With author Claudia Gray’s second book in the Star Wars canon, Bloodline, she becomes the most prolific novelist therein by default. But more than that, along with her first foray into the Galaxy far, far away, Lost Stars, she has proven herself as the greatest canon author to date.
(I’ll only talk about one major spoiler, at the very end of my review, as it’s essentially the crux of why this story is so good.)
Bloodline takes place roughly 6 years prior to The Force Awakens, and the Galaxy is at a vastly different place than it was in the film. The novel follows Senator Leia Organa as she follows a lead that finds her confronting a mysterious Nikto crime organization that has sprung up within the void left by the Hutts. This organization, it turns out, is funded by an extremely wealthy client. Throughout the novel Leia and her allies discover something truly incredible.
Though the novel doesn’t have any huge revelations for us as readers, the draw here is that we get to see the revelations occur for the first time through our characters eyes. Gray does this exceedingly well, and her grasp on character, particularly that of our favorite Princess, knows no boundaries. The shock reveals are all the more exciting, because we know what they allude to, and can conjecture as to what happens next. As a puzzle piece in the ever expanding Star Wars universe, this proves most satisfying.
With The Force Awakens, we never really got to see anything with the New Republic, perhaps a move by Disney to not show any political drama in the sequels – a heavy criticism of the prequels. Starkiller Base just goes and blows it all up for us. With Bloodline, we finally get to learn more about the goings on in the newly reformed senate, and then some. The novel is chock-full of political intrigue and drama. On the surface that may sound like a bit of a drag, but this book is anything but. It’s highly entertaining, and at a turning point in the Senate’s history.
Claudia Gray does some incredible work with creating budding friendships out of unlikely partners. Ransolm Casterfo, a political rival in the Centrist party, is young, zealous, and totally unlike Leia in every way. The goal of the Centrist party worlds within the New Republic political structure is to bring back a more domineering, stronger government, not unlike the Empire. Leia’s political party, the Populists, seek to give more power to the people. Naturally the two parties bicker. These differing ideals make for a highly entertaining adventure, as Leia and Casterfo learn to overcome their differences in pursuit of their goal, which is to find out more about the aforementioned criminal organization and bring it down.
We also get to know quite well who Leia surrounds herself with, politically, as well as in the workplace. We learn about the lives of some of those whom she employs, and about her current relationship with Han. I feel as though I’d very much like to learn more about these side-characters, and hope to have many more adventures with them within the expanded medium of books and comics, if not for films or tv shows.
(Spoilers follow from here, though it’s to be mentioned it was spoiled quite heavily in the marketing campaign for the book.)
The mic drops, so to speak, when Leia is outed as Darth Vader’s daughter. Though this proves no small matter to those of us who’ve known this for years, it’s a big deal to those in the Galaxy far, far away who remember the oppression brought about by Vader and the Empire. It’s a bomb that ruins Leia’s life, career, and relationships with many. And it’s also a highly believable development, though its discovery is slightly convenient. How this concept hasn’t been addressed yet is beyond me, because it’s so brilliant, and so easy, and yet so difficult to pull off with such finesse. Claudia Gray has no trouble making this the climax to her tale, and it’s this that cements the book as one of my favorite canon novels to date.