“The sun is setting on the New Republic,” Leia said. “It’s time for the Resistance to rise.”
Today I’m reviewing Star Wars Bloodline. This novel was written by Claudia Gray and takes places a few years before The Force Awakens, its main focus is Leia Organa who is a senator of the New Republic at the time. We are introduced to new characters and we also encounter well-known characters from the Original Trilogy and characters from The Force Awakens. This book is to me really what should have been the “Journey to the Force Awakens” instead of Aftermath, it really explains a lot in terms of the state in which the galaxy is at the time of Episode 7 and why the Resistance has been created. I think this book is an essential reading to fully comprehend what has been set in TFA and the details it brings will surely be helpful for the rest of the Sequel trilogy. First of all, Claudia Gray did an excellent job, I really love her writing style. Star Wars is a visual saga, and this book feels like a movie, really and I think it would have worked even better as an anthology movie. Gray was able to capture the essence of the saga and put it in a book, characters like Leia and Han Solo are just like they were in the movies, there’s no discrepancies, it’s really the characters we know and we love. In my personal opinion, Lucasfilm should give Claudia Gray a lot more books to write because she’s the author they’ve been looking for!
The story is well-written, it’s a really interesting plot. A fight happening just for the sake of fighting doesn’t make sense like I had already said before and the Prequels gave us the political elements and background to understand how the clone wars started and how it all happened. Bloodline does the same work, it gives us the political elements to understand why the situation is like it is during The Force Awakens and it’s essential to have politics there, people are acting for a reason, things are happening for a reason and it’s the political plots and schemes that lead to it. At the time, the Senate is divided by two large groups – the Populists and the Centrists. The titles give you an idea of what their beliefs are, the Centrists “favor a stronger galactic government and a more powerful military” while the Populists “believe individual planets should retain almost all authority.” If you know anything about American politics, you will immediately recognize the parallels here, they are crystal clear. Leia Organa is a senator from the Populist group. Weirdly, unlike other senators, she does not represent any planets, I thought she could have represented Naboo, the planet of her birth mother but things went differently, she’s non-aligned. As you might expect, the Senate being divided like this leads to nowhere politically, each side opposes the other and it creates an explosive climate where things don’t change and we’re in a politically “frozen” Senate on Hosnian Prime. One question rises, we know that the Senate goes from planet to planet and does not stay forever on the same planet so since this book takes place a few years before TFA, it would be interesting if a future book could reveal how many years the Senate stays on a planet. Episode 7 didn’t give us the time to discover Hosnian Prime properly but with Bloodline we spend a lot of time there, mostly in the Senate building and in the way it’s described it feels like a wonderful planet (halfway between Coruscant and Raxus) and it has a statue of Bail Organa! The book heavily references to the Prequels with this statue and the actions of Bail Organa but with so many other things. Leia Organa is really a reflection of her birth mother Padmé Amidala – she is the same kind of senator, the good type of senator, we recognize her mother through her speeches. Leia’s speeches are mirroring Padmé’s speeches from the Prequels and The Clone Wars, it has the same strong presence and rightfulness, the same sense of duty for the galaxy. Leia mirrors Padmé also in the way she dresses, it’s the same kind of outfits and she does have a lot of outfits! There are a lot of references to Padmé actually and to what she has accomplishes and who she was. The political situation is the same as the political situation leading to the clone wars actually. Lady Carise Sindian, one of the Centrists senators and one of the First Order sympathizers mentions a future secession of the Centrists systems to create and support the First Order which is exactly what happened with the Separatists, some Republic senators made secession to join the Separatists and it eventually lead to the war. The Centrist senators (not all of them but their main leaders) as we learn in the novel are sympathizes of the First Order and slowly but surely await for its rise and publicly join this new power, an organization that is still growing in the shadows at the time. In Bloodline, Leia faces Rinnrivin Di’s cartel and the Amaxine warriors. These two enemies are a smoke screen and are in fact as we understand what finances the First Order and what prepares the ground for its rise. This proves one thing, the galaxy hasn’t learned from its mistakes and does it all over again, the clone wars and the Empire should have told people a lesson but most senators ignores it but not Leia, Leia is one of the two senators really seeing the situation and understanding what is going on. The other senator is Ransolm Casterfo.
Casterfo is a Centrist who at first is a character what can’t be liked, his love for the Empire is crazy but his work with Leia makes his character interesting and shows who he really is as we witness his evolution. However, it’s not a character we’re likely to see again as he is most likely heading to his death at the end of the novel as he has been framed by Sindian. This, this kind of plots is really intriguing – political betrayals, revelations, evil schemes, investigations, murders. These are essential to understand it all and it’s one of the best part of the novel, all these politics. Speaking of revelation, one huge revelation shatters the entire Senate – us the audience knew Leia is Anakin’s daughter who is Darth Vader but the Senate, the people in the Galaxy had no idea. Only, a handful of people knew so as you can imagine this revelation shatters how people saw Leia. What happens also shows that people don’t think a lot, everyone knew Leia but because it is revealed she is Darth Vader’s daughter, everyone stops trusting her like she is some kind of evil. Fortunately, some still believe her and support her but it’s really crazy to see the number of people hating her for that. She is not Vader, she is her own person.
Casterfo and Leia’s unexpected team turns out to be a great one as they investigate the cartels on Bastatha and what leads to the discovery of the Amaxines and a lot of twist and turns. Leia is not alone in her investigation, she also receives the help of C-3PO who is exactly the same annoying droid as always, plus the help of Greer and Joph Seastriker who both join the Resistance when Leia creates it at the end. Both characters are nicely written and strong characters. I had troubles with Greer picturing her as everytime it was written Greer it made me think of Greer, the villain in the TV series Person Of Interest but she is a great character and I hope we’ll see her more in future books as well as Joph!
We get mentions of Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo several times through Leia memories. The two are actually travelling the Galaxy on their own kind of mission and Leia hasn’t received any news from them leading to wonder when exactly Luke went to exile and when Ben exactly became Kylo Ren. We also learn Ben didn’t know Vader was his grandfather until this book, until the moment Casterfo reveals to the Senate and the Galaxy the truth so a lot of fan speculation can raise from how exactly Ben became Kylo and how he became a crazy fan of the darkest side of his grandfather. This book sheds light to Luke’s image in the Galaxy, he’s already becoming some kind of myth.
The events of this book leads to the creation of the Resistance by Leia and the final scene is beautiful leading to a lot more stories to come as at the end of this book, Leia creates the Resistance knowing there are other paramilitary groups out there but she does not know yet of the existence of the First Order and its links to the First Order. A comic book series or an anthology movie would be great as a follow up to this novel.
Speaking of returning characters, we see Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb who are among the first joining the Resistance. Snap Wexley is among them as well, the doctor from Episode 7 also has a small role in the story. Chewbacca is mentioned and at my surprise, he is not working with Han Solo, he is on Kashyyyk with his family. Han Solo has a shipping company and is overseeing a famous race, even more extreme than the Boonta Eve on Tatooine. We don’t see Han Solo a lot in the novel, we mostly see him via holograms when he talks to his wife Leia. We do see him in person near the end of the novel when he comes rescuing Leia and then a little bit after. The relationship between Han and Leia is beautifully written, it really feels as the direct continuation of where their relationship was during Return of the Jedi.
10/10 A brilliant novel highlighting the political state of the Galaxy and giving much more details to fully understand The Force Awakens. Politics, betrayals, investigations, schemes are all there, great reading, keeping the reader intrigued until the very last page, we need more of it!