Bloodline

May 10, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

bloodlineBloodline by Claudia Gray

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When I started down the path of reading all 177 Expanded Universe books, I planned on reading all of the Legends books before I started in on the new canon novels. I had already read Gray’s other Star Wars book, Lost Stars, before making that commitment, though, and I knew when Bloodlines came out I was going to skip ahead. Lost Stars was outstanding, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait the year (at least) it would take to get through everything else, so I started reading this one as soon as I received it.

Of course, that kind of anticipation makes for high expectations, which can lead to disappointment. Sort of like how fear leads to anger, which leads to hate, which leads to suffering. The good news is that Gray is too good of a writer to disappoint.

Bloodline is about Leia, our princess turned rebel turned senator, long after the events of Return of the Jedi. As part of the Senate of the New Republic, she’s seen its ineffectiveness, even outside of Palpatine’s rule, and is ready to give it up. But she catches wind of a conspiracy to overthrow the Senate, and with the help of a fellow senator on the party opposite hers, she investigates the plot and reveals it. All of this happens a mere six years before the events in The Force Awakens.

Gray does an exceptional job with her characterization, as she did in Lost Stars, but I imagine it was trickier to capture Leia than it was to create her own characters in the previous book. She managed to capture the character from the movies, while also giving her new characteristics that fit the story. Leia is now a little jaded, ready to live a life among the stars with Han, but once she understands that there’s something happening behind the scenes of the New Republic, it stirs the coals of her rebel roots and gives her something meaningful to do.

Like the other Star Wars books, there are a lot of easter eggs here, this time alluding more to The Force Awakens than the other movies. Luke, Chewbacca, and Ben are all mentioned in the book, even if they don’t make appearances; even Han is only there as support for Leia. We get a glimpse of the beginnings of the New Order, but nothing concrete aside from the plot that Leia investigates. Luckily, Gray didn’t let those details overwhelm the story; instead, they support it, making it more meaningful instead of just a throwaway mention of a character for those in the know to catch.

There were other details of the novel I enjoyed. Most obvious was the parallel between the division of parties in the Imperial Senate and the same thing happening in the US government. It was hard not to envision some of the more divisive people in real politics in the place of some of the characters. In addition, there were some comments in the narrative that strove for inclusion, like one character referring to her mothers, and another male pilot getting playfully razzed by his other pilots over his new boyfriend. I appreciate these kinds of details being included in the story without making it a big deal at all. It suggests that these kinds of things are normal and acceptable, and worth no more mention that they are what they are.

I didn’t have the kind of emotional response to the story like I did with Lost Stars, but that’s not to say that I didn’t have any response at all. Gray creates real characters with real emotion, crafts a compelling plot with relevant themes, and wraps it up in a storytelling style that’s natural and easy to read. I’ve enjoyed these two books enough to seek out more of Ms. Gray’s work, Star Wars or otherwise.

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