Buzzed Books #42 by Chuck Cannini

Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Bloodline


When Death Star II exploded over the skies of Endor and those cannibal teddy bears sang and danced in triumph, Return of the Jedi’s ending brought a sense of finality to the Star Wars saga. The Empire had lost. A rebel alliance seemed unnecessary.

“Unfortunately, that’s not the galaxy we live in,” thought Princess Leia in Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Bloodline.

No more chases through asteroid fields.

No more being chained to a giant space slug as a sexual slave.

Leia now attends formal ceremonies memorializing her sacrifices and victories that younger generations care little about. She’s a front-line soldier, but in a battle on the Senate floor. Both political parties, Centrists and Populists, refuse to cooperate or compromise with each other’s conflicting ideologies in the New Republic. When a growing cartel threatens a distant planet, Leia would rather risk a blaster bolt to the face from a criminal than endure more pointless bickering between stubborn bureaucrats.

After all, as Leia pointed out, “How long had it been since somebody in the Senate had stood up and actually offered to do something useful?”

Star Wars: Bloodline has action-driven plot featuring underworld kingpins, dangerous politicians, and Imperial loyalists, but the real and far more memorable story Claudia Gray tells is about Princess Leia herself. Every action, every thought, reminds her of the past, and the ghosts who haunt it: a crime boss who resembles Grand Moff Tarkin, a Twi’lek who also toughed Hoth’s frigid snow, and an unlikely ally who recalls traumatic memories of Darth Vader, who is Leia’s greatest secret of all.

As implied on the novel’s cover, Vader’s potential influence looms behind Leia as though the cover is exposing her private thoughts. She’s got some daddy issues. I don’t know why. Darth Vader is everyone’s idealized parent.

In Bloodline, Leia reflects on all these family memories, adding new layers to her character that more literary-minded Star Wars fans will crave. All those hours of running and gunning for the Rebel Alliance in the forests of Endor left little time to process Luke Skywalker’s revelations. Well now Leia’s had twenty-four years to think about her bloodline. Her therapists are narrowed down to her weird monk-like brother who she made out with and Han Solo.

In chapter thirteen, Leia is asked why she chose to not become a Jedi like her brother.

“Surely I’ve known few people who would make a finer Jedi Knight than you.”

Leia inclined her head in gratitude for the compliment, but she could not answer right away, because she could not tell the full truth. The Force was too important a subject to be shared lightly, even with Tai-Lin, her ally and friend. Her safe, sensible, and, as far as it went, honest reply: “My duty has always been here, in the work of creating a new and better government.”

Leia fights for the unthinkable with a plan to unite the two-party system. There’s also this little inconvenience called the First Order threatening this fledgling democracy. Readers can understand why Leia refuses to mention the whole “my daddy is Darth Vader” thing.

The 332 page-long question Bloodline asks is what happens if the entire galaxy–and Leia’s unaware son–learns the truth?

Claudia Gray has written not just a memorable Star Wars novel; she has written a memorable novel.


 Chuck Cannini

Chuck Cannini loves Star Wars. He loves Star Wars so much that he graduated with salutatorian honors and a B.F.A. in Creative Writing for Entertainment just so he could sound smart while he talked about Star Wars. He would love to talk about Star Wars with you.