Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bloodlines: A Star Wars story by Claudia Gray

Having just finished a book about Luke Skywalker after the destruction of the first Death Star, I suppose it's not surprising that I decided to read Bloodline by Claudia Gray. It's about what Leia did next after Palpatine and Vader were destroyed at the Battle of Endor.

It's set rather a lot later, twenty years or so after the end of the Empire, and it is intended as a filler (if you will) for what happened before The Force Awakens.

As you'd be aware, I was most unimpressed with TFA, even after reading the book. So I was interested in fleshing out the backstory.

First, here's the blurb

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. . . .

My Review

Leia is, as expected, a powerful senator in the New Republic, but the edifice of government is starting to become unsteady. There are two main groups; the Centrists, who want to cede more power to a central government, and the Populists, who want each planet to retain power over its own destiny. Leia is a Populist, mainly because she remembers with horror the tyrannical power of the Emperor, and doesn't want anything like that to happen again.

I really enjoyed the political power play and how Leia deals with the various factions. The use of subterfuge and underhand games came across as realistic. We soon begin to realise that something is afoot – a shadowy group with deep pockets and large ambitions. But the Centrists won't allow Leia to take the lead in investigations on her own. She's forced to cooperate with Casterfo, who is a leading, if junior, Centrist senator. The interaction between the two was fascinating.

It's a Star Wars book, so there are plenty of planets, aliens, and action. We get to see a cameo of Han, who is pursuing his own interests elsewhere in the Galaxy. Ben and Luke are mentioned, but not seen. The author did a good job with Leia, writing has a a senator, a princess, and the tough campaigner who finished off Jabba the Hutt.

The fact that I finished the book indicates it was worth reading. Life is too short to bother with a story that doesn't grab my interest. But I wasn't particularly happy with the ending, which had me frowning and saying "yes but" several times, and on one occasion I wondered why the reader had not been given an inkling of a certain matter beforehand. By that I mean something the reader could have expected to know.

This book doesn't lead straight into TFA. There's another story from where Bloodlines ends and TFA begins. If it's out there, I'll read that, too.

It's an entertaining political thriller. I give it 3.5.

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