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.

Bloodline in the latest book from Lucasfilm and Del Rey, with a large political focus in a year where the UK will decide it’s future in Europe, and the US will elect a new President.  These themes are not however left to the relm of the real world as Claudia Gray focuses in on the at times painful struggles of Senator Leia Organa of the New Republic.

Beware, mild spoilers ahead.

The novel focuses in on two sides of the New Republic, the Centralists who belive the galaxy needs a strong centralised government and military; and the Populists whom seek more independent control for planets and systems.  This makes it a heavily political novel, with little in the way of wars in the stars, lightsaber battles, Jedi, or action.  It will thus split opinion with some i’m sure missing badly these elements, however underneath lies a spectacular tale that is truly important to the very essence of the galaxy. This publication once again shows the determination of the storygroup to deliver content where there is something for everyone, even at the expense of univeral popularity.  It’s a strategy I like.

The deep political nature of the novel is a central cause for it’s slow pacing, but a focus on Princess Leia from a different point of view is a welcome change.  There is poise, grace, and a more direct element to Leia that was devoid in The Force Awakens.  She also projects great diplomacy as she tries with vain to heal the rift between the two politcal camps.  A truly impossible task.

Leia stands alone, a beacon of hope that both sides look to for a solution and common ground.  Gray’s portrayal of Leia sits so perfectly with my own, that at times it brought a smile to my face.  She brilliantly captures that unspoken respect the Republic has for her, then wonderfully brings that crashing down around her, as her father is revealed to be the Dark Lord of the Sith.  For the first time in a Star Wars narrative you feel that the impact of the Skywalker lineage has true gravity to the rest of the galaxy.  The political hero, Leia, and the warrior hero Luke – can they truly be held up as poster heroes on which to base this new era of governance?

As the Skywalker “secret” spreads, the New Republic formed after Return of the Jedi begins to crumble as people realise that it has been formed by the very bloodline of the great evil that they destroyed.  We see the formation of the Resistance, and the hints of the beginnings of The First Order as the novel sets up the political background leading into The Force Awakens.

It’s brave of Gray to tackle politics in a US election year, she handles it with great skill.  It can be tiring when entertainment runs to close to the continual daily news as escapism is lost.  However, this novel is one of the most powerful and compelling reads ever in the Star Wars publishing world.  I had high expectatons after Gray’s Lost Stars, but even I was not prepared for something quite this good.

Overall, Bloodline delivers a wonderful characterisation of Princess Leia, never dwelling two long in any one moment to become trapped in its own intricacy.  Bursting to a conclusion with a final arc that will have your heart racing, and feeling like every character is in great pearl.  One word, superb

Many thanks to Random House for the advance review copy.

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Brian is an obsessive collector of Star Wars books, comics, and magazines. With a collection extending into the tens of thousands, he is obsessed by variants, and the more obscure a publication the better! Brian is the Literature Editor for Jedi News, and host of the podcast Take Cover on the Jedi News Network.