It’s felt like an age but finally Star Wars fans have a new book to read! Claudia Grey is welcomed back to the canon after her triumphant debut in Lost Stars. Bloodline, in my opinion is not quite as good, though, Grey cements her place as the best writer within the new Star Wars universe.
It’s safe to say politics has always been a major part of Star Wars and with the introduction of the New Republic and The First Order we were given new factions to learn about. Bloodline goes a long way to answer the many questions we all had after watching The Force Awakens.
The New Republic is divided into two main political parties, the Populists and Centrists. The former believe individual planets should retain all authority where as the latter favour a strong galactic government - think an idealistic Empire.
It is to her immense credit that Grey creates a flowing and mostly compelling story within this political mess. The new government is already stagnating and the two parties that are at polar opposites don’t seem to get anything done. As the reader I felt myself saying “DO SOMETHING!” - luckily a certain Princess Leia Organa is the protagonist of this book and as we know she’s pretty great at getting things done.
Lost Stars was incredibly adept at describing the emotions of characters and Leia is no exception within Bloodline. During the first third she brings Leia’s frustrations alive, all these lie alongside the sadness she still yields for her home planet Alderaan.
It is with no surprise that Leia is the greatest strength of this book - she is everything I wanted her to be; headstrong, willing to do what is right and sassy as hell. The writing of her is simply superb and I got the impression that Grey really understood her as a person. I could see the Leia of the Original Trilogy within the words she said and you begin to understand the woman she was in The Force Awakens too. The sheer joy I had in reading this depiction of Leia is a reason to read this book alone.
She alone isn't characterized wonderfully. The supporting cast just adds depth to the story, none more so than Ransolm Casterfo who is a rising star within the Centrist ranks. His relationship with Leia is tumultuous at best but his passion for his cause makes him an exciting character to have around. The chemistry between Casterfo and Leia is electric which leads to some "interesting" situations throughout the book.
Leia's cohorts are also fun, there is the classic cheeky x-wing pilot, some shrewd politicians and in Greer a companion that is rich in background story and one that I would love to be further explored.
My one criticism of the book is this; after reading half of the book I still had no idea where the book was heading. Now don’t get me wrong, a slow burn is sometimes necessary but this wasn't that, the story just didn't seem to be steering towards an obvious concluding arc. I fear that some readers may get lost within the first couple of thirds as a result - I implore you to stick with it.
Why? Well…the “slow burn” becomes a roaring fire. The final few chapters were, simply put, engrossing. The writing was superb and the plot twists literally had me gasping out loud. Claudia Grey weaves a triumphant ending that will be pleasing to many a Star Wars fan - the book is worth it alone so please please please stick with it.
For those of you who may be thinking, "come on Matt, give us the juicy gossip!" - well, this is a spoiler free review but answers to questions we had after Episode VII are revealed, the Story Group truly has a hand in everything we see and read.
Is this the best book in the canon so far? I think that still belongs to Lost Stars but Claudia Grey was given a stern challenge - to make the muddy waters of politics clear and exciting. She delivered.