Bloodline Book Review

Author: Claudia Gray (http://www.claudiagray.com/)

Claudia Gray is the pseudonym or pen name of a bestselling, New Orleans-based novelist. Her home in New Orleans is more than 100 years old, and is painted purple.

Before working as a full-time novelist, Gray worked as a lawyer, a disc jockey, a journalist, and a waitress (a terrible one by her reckoning). She enjoys hiking, traveling, reading, and listening to music, but says she loves writing best of all.

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Star Wars Cannon

Read on… the bus in Seattle while… traveling to and from work.

Music I listened to while reading this book: Star Wars Soundtracks (playlist available on Spotify)

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Title: Bloodline (Star Wars)

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Publication Date: May 3, 2016 (Just in time for May the 4th…)

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WidePurchase your copy here.

Review: 5 out of 5 Dogwoods

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Summary (from Amazon): WITNESS THE BIRTH OF THE RESISTANCE

When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.

Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.

As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing. . . .

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Image courtesy of Lucas Film Ltd./Disney

I love, lovedloved reading Bloodline!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens left so many questions unanswered about what happened between the fall of the Empire at the end of Return of the Jedi and Poe Dameron’s mission to Jakku in the opening scene of The Force Awakens. What happened to the New Republic? How did the remnants of the Empire morph into the First Order? What happened between Han and Leia? What happened between Ben Solo and Luke Skywalker? While we’re still clueless about the latter question (eagerly anticipating Episode VIII), most of the others are tackled head-on in Bloodline, the new Star Wars novel by Claudia Gray, which was released earlier this year. (Interesting to note that Claudia Gray also wrote the popular YA Star Wars novel and other Force Awakens prequel Lost Stars). These reasons, among many others, are why Bloodline should be considered essential reading for any Star Wars fan.

I don’t want to ruin the book — we all know where the events are heading from having watched The Force Awakens, but the fun in Bloodline is learning how we get there. If you want to remain completely spoiler-free, call a timeout, pick up the book, and come back here after you’re done reading. Otherwise, move along.

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Image courtesy of Pinterest

Bloodline is set just six years before the events of The Force Awakens. In this new novel, our focus is on Princess Leia Organa in her role as a senator in the New Republic. Leia is fed up with the squabbling politicians of the Senate, who are split into the unyielding factions of Populists and Centrists following Mon Mothma’s departure as chancellor. As the political intrigue of the Senate plays out on Hosnian Prime, Leia also channels her inner Rebellion leader, trying to piece together the origin and scope of a shadowy outfit operating on the fringes of the galaxy, making sure it isn’t a threat to the hard-fought peace of the New Republic.

This newest chapter in the Star Wars cannon outlines how Leia went from being a well respected Senator in the New Republic to the eventual leader of the Resistance.  Claudia Gray does a fantastic job of weaving the plot within the confines of the Star Wars galaxy while delivering a rich cast of characters, new and old.

The book’s title, Bloodline, is a direct reference to Leia’s parentage. Between Return of the Jedi and the events of Bloodline, Luke and Leia have learned that their mother was Padmé Amidala and that their father was Anakin Skywalker, who later became Darth Vader. But much of the novel focuses on Leia’s two very different fathers: Bail Organa, her adoptive father, and Darth Vader, her biological father. Gray continues to remind us throughout Bloodline that Luke and Leia had very different experiences with Darth Vader: Vader sacrifices himself to save Luke and returns to the light side in Return of the Jedi, while Vader captures, tortures Leia, and then makes her helplessly watch as he destroys her home planet Alderaan in A New Hope. As a result, one of the driving forces of Bloodline is Leia’s incredible internal struggle to accept the evil she endured in her lifetime due to her father Darth Vader, and the implications the truth of her parentage would have on her son Ben and the rest of the Galaxy if they were to discover the truth.

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Image courtesy of Star Wars Post

As a lifetime fan of Star Wars, I have always loved Princess Leia. She  is smart, clever, strong and strong-willed, and always stands up to adversity and inequality. She is a civil servant who falls in love with a smuggler and a scoundrel. She is the princess who got her hands dirty and strangled Jabba the Hutt. In many ways, she is the perfect mix of her mother, Queen Amidala, and her father, the Jedi Anakin Skywalker.

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Princess Leia, aka Hutt Slayer, in Return of the Jedi. Image courtesy of Lucas Film Ltd./Disney

What Bloodline does best is it shows us more of Leia’s emotions throughout the events of Star Wars. We see her struggle throughout her lifetime with her emotions surrounding the destruction of her  home planet Alderaan. We see her struggle to accept Darth Vader as her father. We see her struggle to be a wife and a mother while also working to rebuild and protect the Galaxy with the New Republic. Bloodline also gives us more detail and a heartbreaking glimpse into the marriage between Han and Leia.

“Someday.”

The words sounded like a promise. But Leia couldn’t make herself believe that day would ever really come… and she knew Han couldn’t either. Someday was the sun disappearing behind a cloud, a morning lost to darkness long before night should have come.

I loved this portrayal of Leia because we are used to seeing her as a Princess, a Senator, and a General; always calm, cool, collected, and in control. With Bloodline, we get to experience Leia as a human being who has been forced to face great evil her entire lifetime.

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General Leia of the Resistance in The Force Awakens. Image courtesy of Lucas Film Ltd./Disney

Other than Leia, the character from Bloodline that I completely fell in love with was Centrist Senator Ransolm Casterfo.  With Senator Casterfo, Claudia Gray has developed a complex character who you wish you could classify as a “bad guy” but who you also root for throughout the entire book. His character brings to mind the complex character of Professor Snape in Harry Potter. Casterfo collects Empire memorabilia in his office and as a Centrist Senator believes in the idea of the Empire, a ruling political structure based around centralized power. We learn in Bloodline, that while Casterfo likes the idea of the Empire, he absolutely hates Darth Vader.  Casterfo grew up on Riosa, a planet controlled by the Empire during the rebellion, and he had to watch as his parents were turned into slaves, tortured, and starved at the hands of Darth Vader.

While reading Bloodline, I could not help but draw a comparison between the Senate of The New Republic to our own political system. With the events of this election year and the gridlock we see in our own Congress and Senate, it is easy to draw comparisons to our own dysfunctional government. However, Claudia Gray insists that she drew as little inspiration from our own government as possible when she was constructing the conflict within the Senate in Bloodline.

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Image courtesy of Lucas Film Ltd./Disney

Throughout Bloodline there were also bits and pieces of information shedding new light on the timeline and plot of The Force Awakens. We learn, in Bloodline, that Han has already been without the Millennium Falcon for some time. We also learn that Ben Solo was still training with Luke Skywalker at the age of twenty-three, and that at that point in time he had no idea that Darth Vader was his grandfather. It will be interesting to see if the moment in Bloodline where Luke is accused of being untrustworthy due to his parentage will be foreshadowing of what is to come in Episode VIII and Episode IX, or if this accusation also plays a part in Ben Solo’s (a.k.a. Kylo Ren’s) abandonment of his family and turn to the dark side with Supreme Leader Snoke.

Bloodline was perfect. Not only does it fit well within the Star Wars saga as we journey from the events of Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens, but it also gives us more depth and perspective to a few of our favorite characters as we get ready to move forward with our new heroes in Episode VIII. I cannot wait to read Lost Stars next and see Rogue One this winter!

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