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Claudia Gray‘s newest Star Wars book is finally here and boy, is it a big one. This book centers around Leia Organa six years prior to The Force Awakens. Although it precedes Episode VII, it still shines a light on many of the mysteries we fans theorize about and shows how the political climate of the New Republic begins to pave the way for both the First Order and the Resistance. If any of those things interest you then you definitely don’t want to miss this book.
The book largely centers on the political stagnation brought about by the peace of the last generation. The senate is mostly divided into two groups much like our real-life political parties. I suppose if you thought certain episodes of Star Wars featured too much politics this may not be for you but I found it fascinating. Gray’s description of the machinations, power struggles, and redundancy of the system was very engrossing. I kinda wish I knew more about my own nation’s politics the way she described these things, but alas…
The characterization of Leia is spectacular, a wonderful blend of all the Leias we know from A New Hope to The Force Awakens. From her wit, determination, and undaunted strength of will she comes off the page. Her dialogue is so easy to hear in her voice. I listened to the audiobook, and while January LaVoy’s reading was great, I still would repeat the lines in my head in Leia’s voice, often using Lavoy’s delivery. It’s great to see Leia so wonderfully represented in this book and I feel it is a strikingly honest Leia that should feel familiar to all of us.
There are quite a few new characters in this book and they are all interesting.
Han Solo of course is just as well written as Leia, although he’s used sporadically.
Rinnrivin Di is a Nikto cartel leader whose cunning is compared to none other than Wilhuff Tarkin himself.
Ransolm Casterfo is a Centrist (the political party which believes in a powerful central government with military to back it up) who idolizes the Empire. His reverence of the Empire, once understood more clearly, is a respect for what it was able to accomplish while still having a distinct and personal distaste for its methods and leadership. He’s a wonderful character who as Leia learns more about, is clearly more than he seems at first glance.
Joph Seastriker, a young adventure hungry pilot who reminds me a bit of many of the young Rebel pilots of the last generation.
Greer Sonnel, Leia’s personal assistant who came from the starship racing life.
Korr Sella, a young intern who has just begun to work with Leia.
There’s also a lot of pieces of information here that tell us bits of the larger story.
SPOILERS FOR REAL
Here we see the origins and secrecy around the formation of the First Order. I find it very interesting that the Amaxine Warriors here are named after a legend of a group who, unwilling to follow the Republic, went into the Unknown Regions to build their own empire, hidden away. The dedication ceremony of Bail Organa’s statue is quite surprising to see that after all these years his influence is still felt and respected. The truth of Leia’s parentage being revealed to the galaxy is quite shocking and comes with major repurcussions, both politically and personally.
What will probably make most rethink their ideas about the mysteries of The Force Awakens is the fact that Luke Skywalker and Ben have been together journeying throughout the galaxy searching for lost Jedi knowledge. It seems that Luke had already been searching for the first Jedi temple before his order was destroyed (with Ben at his side, no less). It’s also very interesting to note that at this point Ben is unaware of his lineage because Leia has not yet told him. When the information goes public it’s assumed that he will find out on some news broadcast which may well be something which contributes to his inner conflict. We never see the repercussions but we are left to imagine what they may be. It’s also interesting to see that at this point Luke has been journeying throughout the galaxy for so long he’s almost become a legend even before he went into the “hiding” we suspect he is doing on Ahch-To. I think this is very interesting in showing that his motives and missions are his own and convinces me that his presence on Ahch-To is not just Luke running away.
The machinations of the New Republic are very similar to the actions of the Republic during the Clone Wars and goes to show that the stagnation brought upon by peace is always a ripe place for fear to sow the seeds of war. Although we are seeing the senate before war begins its seems many of the same problems lead to what will become the war between the Resistance and the First Order. It’s also clear that the First Order has its own spies and pawns inside the senate during this time, which is why a Resistance is needed.
Personally I enjoyed a lot of the ties to other canon material which is probably small but still really cool for me. Jelucani Fogstone and Yendor come straight out of Lost Stars. Leia mentions Vrogas Vas, which was the location of the Rebel base in the comic series Vader Down. Ello Asty, Korr Sella, Dr. Kalonia, and Snap Wexley are straight out of The Force Awakens (and Snap is in Aftermath too!) I suspect Rinnriven Di could be related to another Nikto we met during the Clone Wars named Ima-Gun Di. Brendel Hux from the Servants of the Empire series is also mentioned which is interesting as that is a great tie between Star Wars Rebels and what will become the First Order. Another mention of Saw Gerrera’s partisans which again refers to them being very brutal and violent so I’m interested to see them again as they seem to have quite a reputation in the Galactic Civil War. There are a few others who are mentioned such as Mon Mothma and Lando, who I’m just happy to hear that they’re still around at this time.
Leia’s ability and foresight are what lead her to form the Resistance to protect the galaxy from the threat no one else will do anything about.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s a great look at Leia, and aside from the Princess Leia comic and Moving Target, it’s a more in-depth look at Leia closer to the time of The Force Awakens. It’s great to see the New Republic and what will eventually lead to the Resistance and the First Order. Lots of details and revelation for not only the characters themselves but the reader as well. It’s a political story that’s a bit more intriguing and thrilling than one might assume going in, but is definitely not boring by any means. This book definitely treats Leia Organa with the respect she deserves.