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.
Bloodlines was a very interesting book. Whether it be fate of the Force, this book mirrors the political whirlwind that is the upcoming election happening in America. Princess Leia is the Star Wars version of Hillary Clinton! That being said, we go into the book.
Beware, mild spoilers ahead.
In the Galactic Senate, there are two political parties: the Centrists and the Populists. Leia is a populist and their view is that each planet should maintain its own state of affairs, while the Centrists want a more unified governments of planets, being ruled together, like a (cough, cough) Empire. Leia hates what has become of the Senate, because much like the Old Republic, the New Republic never gets things done.
When one immediately thinks politics and Star Wars, they might groan, thinking about how the prequels focused too much on it. However, Claudia Gray manages to write it in a very fun and action packed way, even if there are few boring parts of exposition.
Leia and her crew are likeable characters, and Leia wants the Senate to take action against a Nikto drug cartel. Paired with her, is the young Centrist senator, Ransolm Casterfo. Casterfo is pompous and annoying, and even more disturbing is that he likes to collect Imperial soldiers helmets and has them lining the walls of his office like some Neo-Nazi. Ransolm swears they are only trinkets for a collection, but Leia figures that if he had been born sooner he would be an Imperial. Even her initial first reaction was that he reminded her of Tarkin.
Leia tries to negotiate with the Nikto Cartel leader, Rinnrivin Di and appeals to his vanity by offering a holographic recording of her killing Jabba the Hutt (someone recorded that!?) Niktos had a long hatred of the Hutts and were glad to be free of them under the rule of the New Republic.
After Ransolm botches a sting operation attempt, Leia and her crew follow some clues. We learn the Nikto group is being funded by an unseen force, but it is merely a smokescreen for the paramilitary terrorist group, the Amaxine. The Amaxine are a reference to an old order that left the galaxy after they couldn’t take it over and went travelling to find a new galaxy, which is always something I thought the Rebellion should do in the first place. Anyway, the Amaxine have the Senate bombed and hope in the confusion that the Populists and Centrists destroy each other.
One of the main things going on in the book is that the Senate is thinking of electing a First Senator, and Leia is the most promising candidate from the Populist party. However, this all falls apart when the secret First Order usurper Lady Carisse reveals that Leia’s father was Darth Vader. The backlash of this news was expertly written and felt like a real political scandal! Carisse leaked the info to Ransolm, who, furious over his hatred of Darth Vader, reveals it to the entire Senate. Leia is completely crushed by Ransolm’s betrayal and her bid for First Senator vanishes. Only Leia’s closest friends, and her husband, yes HUSBAND Han Solo support her.
Throughout the novel Luke and Ben are mentioned but nothing is said in detail as that is likely off-limits for the time being. However, we do find out that Ben didn’t know his grandfather was Darth Vader and probably found out when the information went public. This isn’t the best way to learn stuff like that and may have been instrumental in his fall to the dark side.
The plotline is free of Chuck Wendig’s annoying animal metaphors and instead replaces them with soft, subtle references to the original trilogy, that make it clear that those times were golden, but doesn’t overdo it so much that it becomes cliché. We also see the continued inclusion of LGBT characters. It’s not in your face like other novels, but is certainly worth mentioning.
With her reputation sullied, Leia leads a secret mission to an undersea city on Sisenko, where the Amaxine are preparing their army. Leia breaks in, and basically goes through the motions of a typical Star Wars novel; Han arrives in the nick of time and the base is destroyed, putting an end to the Amaxine.
However, when she gets back it is hard for her to prove it to the other Senators. Lady Carisse gets her comeuppance as Leia strips her of her titles, but poor Ransolm is arrested for treason and sent back to his homeworld to receive the death penalty, that ironically he himself reinstated. I really felt bad about Ransolm’s fate as I grew to like him as a character, despite his checkered personality.
All in all the book sometimes has you scratching your head, wondering what’s going on but as I said, Claudia makes the politics almost fun and the action is satisfying. At the end, we see how the First Order got its legs and how the Resistance formed at the end of the novel in order to counter any further threats. It really leads in well to The Force Awakens, and despite the disappointment about Luke and Ben’s presence being so limited it leaves us hungry for more. I give this novel 3 out of 5 Death Stars.
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