Star Wars Bloodline (not to be confused with Star Wars Bloodlines, a novel from the old pre-Disney canon) is our latest addition to the new canon family. Claudia Gray’s previous contribution to the series, Lost Stars, really set the high bar for Bloodline. Lost Stars was a masterful addition to Star Wars that surprised many fans who were initially skeptical of the young adult novel. This time, we get a novel aimed at adults that focused on Princess/Senator/<insert title here> Leia. The book takes place a few years before The Force Awakens and shows how a life of politics has just beat Leia down emotionally. She knows how things really work in politics and what kind of facades you have to put on to make those things happen. This has made her somewhat cynical but also intelligent enough to know who to trust and who not to trust.
The New Republic Senate has divided itself into a two party system, Centrists and Populists. Centrists want a powerful galactic government reminiscent of the Old Republic or even the Empire. Populists want planets to individually govern themselves with loose input from the New Republic government. Naturally these clashing ideas cause so much bickering between Senators of the respective parties that nothing ever gets done and civilians suffer as a result. Many of the major characters in Bloodline are affiliated with one of these two parties. Whereas Lost Stars focused on a love story, Bloodline focuses on a growing friendship between Leia, a Populist, and a Centrist named Ransolm Casterfo. When something the Senate cannot ignore indefinitely pops up, Leia volunteers to check it out in order to get away from politics for a bit and the Centrists insist one of their people tag along. The relationship between these two waxes and wanes again and again over the course of the novel as Claudia Gray gives Leia a voice perfectly fitting the character while introducing a new, interesting cast as well.
Another great thing about Bloodline was Gray’s portrayal of politics. Most people are not the biggest fan of politics and that can make them very hard to write about, even fictional politics. When most people think “Star Wars” their minds go to epic space battles and lightsaber duels but politics have always been an intricate part of Star Wars, both within the films and in the expanded universe. The original trilogy had the Rebel Alliance fighting against a corrupt Empire, the prequels had the corruption and manipulation of the Old Republic leading to its downfall as a government, and the new trilogy seems to focus on the chaos the First Order can cause due to the New Republic ignoring them as a threat. The politics in Bloodline do tie into the political situation audiences were barely allowed to glimpse in The Force Awakens; Bloodline is the tie-in that Aftermath should have been.
While it does not a direct impact on Bloodline, many fans are going to analyze the new Leia versus the Leia of the old canon (i.e. Star Wars Legends). The old canon saw Leia as a Chief of State, the mother of three children, and a Jedi Knight over a 40+ year time period that followed Return of the Jedi. The new Leia spent her time after Episode VI being a Senator for roughly 35 years and then becoming the leading general of the Resistance. Presently, comparing and contrasting is pretty difficult since the old canon Leia has two decades worth of novels, comic books, and other materials going into her character while the new canon Leia pretty much has just Bloodline (for now).
From what we know thus far, the new canon Leia will be just as interesting, if not more so, than the old canon Leia and that is in no small part due to Claudia Gray’s amazing abilities as a writer. Bloodline is very different from Lost Stars to the point where it is difficult to compare the two, but it just as fantastic as Gray’s previous contribution to the franchise. While other authors are focusing on classic (overdone) Star Wars with lots of action, Gray is focusing on the characters. Who they are, how they came to be those people, and where their lives are going. This breath of fresh air combined with Gray’s phenomenal talent as skill as a writer is setting new milestones regarding what it takes for a Star Wars novel to be truly masterful.