In Review: Star Wars: Bloodline

This is "Must Reading" for Star Wars fans.

Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Published by Del Rey, May 3, 2016. Hardcover of 342 pages at $28.00. Includes a seven page excerpt from Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig.

The cover: A three-quarter’s view of Darth Vader’s helmet dominates the cover. The Star Wars logo covers most of his face. The Sith Lord turns to red from the neck down. Within this image is Princess Leia with her head down, as though disheartened by something. She’s wearing her Hoth uniform. Behind her are four X-wings flying straight up. The title is just underneath the princess, followed by author Claudia Gray’s name. This is a great cover and sets the tone of the novel perfectly. No credit is given to the artist of this, though Scott Biel is credited as the jacket designer. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the inside jacket flap: “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 make make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing…” This has me hoping that this book will explain how Leia left the Senate to form the Resistance. I’m also curious to see how Darth Vader figures into the book, as he is part of Leia’s bloodline. If the book addresses these, I’ll be extremely happy. Overall grade: A

The characters: Leia has become frustrated with her work in the Senate. It is not running as smoothly as she thought it would after the Emperor’s death. The political body has become split into two factions: the Populists, who believe individual planets should retain almost all their authority, and the Centrists, who favor a stronger galactic government and a more powerful military. She’s considering retiring until an emissary asks the Senate to check into the reign of a rising crime lord. Seeing an opportunity to get away, she volunteers herself to check it out. Also volunteering is rising Centrist star Ransolm Casterfo, who’s office decor offends Leia for a good reason. Forced to work together, the two find more similarities than differences between them, and they begin to respect the other, though something happens to threaten this friendship. Ransolm is a major jerk, but after a few chapters Gray had me rethinking my opinion of him. Greer Sonnel was once a hotshot pilot, tutored by Han Solo, but now she works for Leia as her assistant. She’s a great character who’s backstory is revealed in the last third of the novel. Assisting Leia and Greer is Joph Seastriker, a young pilot who’s expertise is only eclipse by his heart. Han Solo makes a few appearances, as he’s off competing in a race. Even young son Ben Solo (EEEK!) gets a mention. Complicating things are Lady Carise Sindian a senator from Arkanis who’s part of the Centrists and is constantly trying to get Leia’s attention so that she may assume the governorship of Birren, as Leia’s bloodline (Ah, there it is!) has her next in line. There’s also the Nitko gangster Rinnrivin Di, who’s definitely a cut above the villains since the rebooting of the expanded universe. Greer and Joph were a good team together and I hope that they appear in other novels. Overall grade: A

The settings: Hosnian Prime is the world that hosts the New Republic and most of the book is centered there. The story doesn’t just show the political facilities, it also ventures to private residences. This planet held more than meeting rooms, and I was thankful that Gray did that. The book goes to several other worlds as Leia and her allies sought out information on Rinnrivin Di. Each world nicely built up the “new” Star Wars universe. I can’t say what each world is like without spoiling them, but suffice to say, Gray describes them well, especially the last world where Leia has her greatest difficulties. Overall grade: A+

The action: I was afraid that the book was going to be too formulaic, with the protagonists going to another world, they get in trouble, escape to Hosnian Prime, repeat. This doesn’t happen. Something major goes down on Hosnian Prime that surprised me, and the mention of a future group spun the book in a direction of new threats. Leia has still got the goods when it comes to shooting a blaster, and her companions have some strong skills of their own. Overall grade: A+

The conclusion: This sets everything in place for A Force Awakens, at least in regards to Leia’s position. I was completely satisfied. It should also be mentioned that Gray cleverly incorporates bloodline to mean more than one thing. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is “Must Reading” for Star Wars fans. Questions are answered, a few new ones are set up, and there are plenty of surprises along the way. Chapter Nineteen will make every fan scream. Bloodline is Recommended. Overall grade: A

To find out more about this book go to

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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