Retro Reviews: ‘Bloodline’ by Claudia Gray

September 22, 2020 at 5:35 am | Posted in Books, Random House, Regular Feature, Retro Reviews, Reviews, Star Wars, Star Wars Books | 1 Comment

Bloodline by Claudia Gray, is an adult canon novel set roughly six years before the events of The Force Awakens. It was released in May of 2016.

I remember loving this book when it first came out. I was still inexperienced in reading books and so it took me a while to get into it. But when you combine Claudia Gray, politics, and Star Wars, you are sure to have a great book.

The first thing I’d like to point out is that Claudia Gray absolutely nails the character of Leia. All of her lines, her actions, her motivations, and her feelings felt completely in tune with what we see in the movies, and Claudia just makes me feel so bad for all the bad things in her life. Despite all of the good in her life, Leia has one of the most tragic stories in Star Wars, and this book shows how difficult public service can be.

That leads into another good point. Claudia Gray is fantastic at politics. For a while, politics and Star Wars was a touchy subject with the fandom, and few authors attempted to approach the subject. In fact most authors simply let James Luceno handle all the politics stuff, that is, until Claudia Gray came in. Claudia’s politics feels like it both matches today’s and also feels a little foreign, making it the perfect blend for fiction. The Populists and Centrists, while having similar analogues in modern American politics, feel like they are very different political factions. I agreed with the populists on some issues, but could completely see where the Centrists were coming from. If more authors write politics in Star Wars like Claudia does, it’ll become a staple of the galaxy far, far away.

Another thing that I appreciate was all the references, both to Claudia Gray books and to other Star Wars novels. I was very happy to see Yendor of Ryloth again, after his brief appearance in Lost Stars. I also appreciated that Claudia seemed to set the stage with certain easter eggs about how the government and military of the New Republic and First Order worked. I think that Bloodline, while not exactly being a “Journey to the Force Awakens/Last Jedi”, serves that purpose better than any other “Journey To” books. I appreciate both films a lot more because of this.

I also loved the character of Ransolm Casterfo. He had a very complex and unique character history that I found fascinating and that kept me on my toes. He shows that people who disagree with you can still be noble. I will be interested to see if he is a major part of any future books.

One thing that I had forgotten about this book is it’s plot and villain. While Rinnrivin Di is the main villain of the book, he actually has surprisingly little page time. However, Gray was effective at weaving him into and out of the story that his presence felt like it was all over the book. Likewise, this is such a fun and tropey plot that I was just racing to get to the next chapter throughout, even though I had already read it once. I kept wishing certain things would turn out differently, knowing that they wouldn’t, and still enjoying myself.

The side characters were written really well. Claudia Gray didn’t have a ton of time, but she did a pretty good job with Greer Sonnel, Joph Seastriker, and Korr Sella. I thought they were very much characters that Claudia Gray would write, and they all played off each other well. I hope we get future books and stories with Greer and Joph.

This leads into a small gripe I have with this book. Claudia Gray and the editors tried to fit too much into this book. It tries to answer questions about the galaxy leading up to the sequel trilogy, attempts to tell a fun action story, and attempts to tell this big political event that is happening, all at the same time. I think that this should have had more books to really expand the story, or the editors should have cut down on all the objectives that this book was meant to meet. I still loved it, but there is room for improvement.

Also, as with most books, my continued gripe is that Del Rey seems to have this view that they need to keep their books between 300-400 pages. I do not believe this is good and believe they should feel free to expand books to really make them all more epic. But I digress.

As a whole, I loved this book. Claudia Gray is fast becoming one of my favorite authors and this book is a great example of how to mix plot, character, and worldbuilding together. I hope Claudia Gray and other authors get more books like this, because it was so much fun to read. 5 out of 5.

Next book is Aftermath: Life Debt. I honestly don’t remember much from this book, so it should be a fun reread!

Written by Jonathan Koan

1 Comment »

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  1. Bloodline was the first new Star Wars canon novel I read. I absolutely loved it, and felt that if all the new SW books were this good, I’m in for a great time. Claudia Gray is fantastic, and I’ve read her other Star Wars books, except Lost Stars (that’s next!). Gray really got to the heart of Leia’s character here, which I never knew I needed until I read it. I give it 5 out of 5, too. Thanks for the review!

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