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Tuesday, 10 May 2016

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'BLOODLINE'

A troubled past, a troubled future for Princess Leia Organa, in Bloodline, out now in UK hardback.

STAR WARS: BLOODLINE

By Claudia Gray

Out now in UK hardback from CENTURY PUBLISHING

Reviewed by Scott Weller


Its been three years since her last main showcase adventure with the disappointing Razor's Edge (of what was to have been the ultimately doomed Empire and Rebellion book strand- remember that?!), but Princess Leia Organa is back, and in a much better adventure for her character, as the second prequel novel leading up to the events of THE FORCE AWAKENS, the ramifications-packed Bloodline, brought to us by the talented and acclaimed Claudia Gray, arrives worldwide in bookstores and online.

Leia's place within the New Republic Senate becomes fragile and threatened.

The idea of Leia for the most part spurning the fact of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker as being her biological father, in favour of her adoptive parent hero figure of Bail Organa, had long been a part of Expanded Universe storytelling yore prior to its extinction a few years back, but Miss Gray firmly and effectively uses that element in more potent and memorable ways in Bloodline, as both a pivotal storytelling device and as part of a deepening character examination- Leia's secret heritage used deliberately against her by an ambitious, subtly manipulative female senatorial rival, deliberately detonated with all the power of a Death Star laser blast, just when she and her trio of blossoming young aides in adventure and mystery are investigating the emergence of a lethal new band of galactic pirates, soon uncovering behind them the first steps in the formation of what will eventually become the terror and might of the First Order.

Past and present collide, of which a dark parentage is explored.

Her Classic Trilogy traits of nobility, pluckiness, sarcasm and blaster aim brilliance, as well as her reputation as "Huttslayer", continue to shine brightly in Bloodline, yet Leia, seemingly not taking up her abilities as a Jedi, has also become older, wiser and vulnerably lonelier, quickly recognising that the New Republish she helped see in via the many consequences-packed battles of the past (once alongside the now absent Mon Mothma and the retired Admiral Ackbar) has now become as corrupted, manipulated and dangerous as the prior disintegration of the Old Republic and its re-genesis into the Empire, with uneasy and vain power clashes between Populist (of which Leia is a part) and Centrist fractions going nowhere, and only the incredulous temerity of a political opponent from the other side- the flamboyant, youthful and risk-taking rival in politics Senator Casterfo, possessing a strange but equally plot important fascination, nay repugnance to Leia, with old Empire "antiques", showing any willingness to help her within the Senate. But for how long? And just how will the turn of events eventually propel her from being a Princess to a General, and with it the creation of a Resistance?

Though her scenes were mostly cut in THE FORCE AWAKENS, a younger Korr Sella (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) gets to live again in Bloodlines.

Having the most to do in the book as a new character, Casterfo is realised well enough, and has some good interaction with Leia as the story heads towards its strong, well-constructed final third, though Leia's often awestruck aides in action with seeking X-wing pilot Joph Seastriker (a deliberate nod to the heroism of a young Luke Skywalker, so yearning for adventure he'd make Yoda squirm anew!) and pilot with a secret in former racer Greer Sonnel, failed to capture my enthusiasm. With their times and places in the Sequel history storytelling not yet confirmed, Luke Skywalker is conspicuous by his absence (communication with him at his secret Jedi Temple location having been cut off by electrical interference), as are her young and not yet corrupted son in Ben, and the evil Snoke, who really should have been placed somewhere in the tale. Thankfully, golden fusspot Threepio (now a master of more than a million forms of communication!) and hubby/scoundrel Han Solo make some strategically welcome appearances here and there to shore up the Classic Trilogy icons appearance list. Introducing characters in novel form that will become so important with THE FORCE AWAKENS (and beyond) must surely have been an additional joy for Miss Gray (alongside her clear skill at binding Classic and Prequel characters/histories together), as too weaving in the subtle contributions of EPISODE VIII's upcoming writer/director Rian Johnson, linked to the political skullduggery on the New Republic world of Hosnian Prime. Oh, its a tough job being a STAR WARS novelist, but somebody's gotta do it!


AFICIONADO RATING: Surely capturing the love and rabid attention of the new Sequel-ites, and with lots of echoes to the original Expanded Universe for older fans to enjoy, Claudia Gray looks set to become an important part of the STAR WARS book universe for the next few years with Bloodline and beyond. 3.5 out of 5. 

Get the book here: Star Wars: Bloodline: Amazon.co.uk: Claudia Gray: 9781780892627: Books

Details and Excerpt from Claudia Gray’s Novel Bloodline! | Star Wars News Net

Leia Organa: The Galactic Senate’s Only Hope — Galleys — Medium

Behind the scenes: The Star Wars Underworld: Lucasfilm's Pablo Hidalgo Shares 'Star Wars: Bloodline' Behind the Scenes Details on Twitter


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