Author’s Note: This review does contain mild spoiler information.
- OPENING LINE
- PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY
- THE PLOT
- THE AUTHOR
- THE NARRATION
- THE PRODUCTION
- FINAL THOUGHTS
- QUICK FACTS
The Resistance is born.
From the New York Times best-selling author of Star Wars: Lost Stars comes a thrilling novel set in the years before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
©2016 Claudia Gray (P)2016 Random House Audio
When ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ was released in theaters last December, it gave us all a new look at the events happening in a galaxy far, far away. The movie introduced us to a new cast of characters alongside returning favorites and factions such as The First Order and The Resistance. Set more than 30 years after ‘Return of the Jedi’, it sparked a lot of conversation as to what happened in the interim to create the environment we observe in the film. So when it was announced that ‘Bloodline’ by Claudia Gray would be set just 6 years before ‘The Force Awakens’, it became one of the most anticipated releases in Star Wars fiction in quite some time.
It is roughly 26 years after ‘Return of the Jedi’ and The New Republic is falling apart. There are many who have no memory of The Empire or the terror that it brought to the galaxy. There are others who would like nothing more than to see the return of Imperial rule. It seems that The New Republic Senate is plagued by some of the same problems that plagued the Senate of The Old Republic which ultimately led to The Empire’s rise.
‘Bloodline’ is first and foremost a Princess Leia story. Characters such as her brother Luke Skywalker and her son Ben are mentioned in passing. Han Solo does appear, but only briefly and as a supporting player. ‘Bloodline’ chronicles the events that lead to the birth of The Resistance and Princess Leia’s role in its creation.
The most interesting revelation in ‘Bloodline’ for the characters involved is that Leia is the biological daughter of Darth Vader. It is how the galaxy and even more Leia’s closest allies react to this bombshell that provides a lot of the book’s intrigue. The revelation comes at a most inopportune time for Leia and is ultimately the catalyst for the end of her career in Senate politics.
You’re not going to have every question about ‘The Force Awakens’ answered by reading ‘Bloodline’. At the time of the novel, Luke Skywalker has not gone into hiding and Ben has not fallen to the dark side. Supreme Leader Snoke doesn’t even get a mention, although there are hints as to the origin of The First Order.
The story isn’t full of sudden swerves or stunning plot twists. There are a few big developments, and they serve well to prove that sometimes less is more. The few big moments in the novel each have a meaningful impact and drive the story forward. As discussed below, ‘Bloodline’ stands out because of complex and likable characters.
This is Claudia Gray’s second novel in the Star Wars canon after she received rave reviews, including one from me, for ‘Lost Stars’ when it was released last September. The high praise surrounding that book meant that this book would reach another level in terms of anticipation.
Gray’s biggest strength as an author is her ability to create complex characters and have them interact in interesting and, more importantly, believable ways. One of the big reasons there is some clamoring for a sequel to ‘Lost Stars’ is because Gray created characters that people liked and want to see come back.
The plot of this novel isn’t the most action packed Star Wars story that you are going to read. However, because of the strength of the characters, readers still want to see what will happen next, mostly because they want to know how these characters will respond to each new development, what kind of emotions will be conveyed and how relationships will be changed.
If you are going to have a Star Wars novel that is heavy on the politics as this one is, then you need to have compelling characters who don’t need big action sequences in which to thrive. This is ultimately why Claudia Gray was such a great choice to write this kind of novel.
The choice of January LaVoy as narrator is only natural, as this is a Leia story and thus a female narrator seems appropriate. LaVoy is a veteran of a few Star Wars Audiobooks and is becoming quite popular among listeners. Listening to this audiobook, it is not hard to understand why.
LaVoy does a good job with conveying drama and emotion throughout her reading. She always seems to hit dramatic note. There is a fine line between getting the emotion right and taking it too far over the top, and while she gets close to that line at times, she never truly crosses it. Some of my favorite parts of the performances is when she is arguing with herself in the voices of two characters.
As is usually the case, this Star Wars audiobook comes with both music and background sound effects. Because this book doesn’t contain any major battle sequences, the use of effects isn’t as aggressive as it has been with other Star Wars releases, and the music is only used when it would carry some weight.
The track sounds great. The narration comes through loud and clear and is never overpowered by the background noise. There are no defects to be found on the track. The Audible version contains 31 chapter stops which sync up with the book’s 31 chapters.
‘Bloodline’ is about the political struggle taking place in the New Republic that would eventually lead to the environment we see in ‘The Force Awakens’. The fact that it is a political book might in and of itself turn off some potential readers. I would advise anyone with those misgivings to put them aside and read the book anyway.
Does ‘Bloodline’ answer every question that you might have after seeing ‘The Force Awakens’? It certainly does not, but it does answer more questions than you might think at first glance. It is also a very strong Princess Leia story. If you count Leia as your favorite character, this book is likely to only enhance those feelings.
|Title||Author||Narrator||Publisher||Genre||Release Date||Running Time||Stars|
|Star Wars: Bloodline – New Republic||Claudia Gray||January LaVoy||Random House Audio||Science Fiction||05/03/2016||12 hours, 14 minutes||4.5/5|