I have gained a renewed interest in Star Wars printed materials (books, comics, graphic novels) in recent months. One such entry into this is a series of novels by a well-known writer in the nerdom of SF/space-opera fans, Claudia Gray. Her 2016 title, Bloodline, is a really strong addition to the LucasFilm lineup of novels.
Sometime in June or July I recalled a cool program that the Lucasfilm Story Group had announced in the late winter (Writers Roundtable for the High Republic series). It had to do with, “a multi-platform publishing initiative that will take Star Wars to brand-new ground.”1 It was described as a program to energize the creative talent that fuels the printed content driving the expanded universe of the Star Wars franchise. They held a cool summit at Skywalker ranch to bring together a who’s/who of, hand-chosen, top writers that would be penning a bunch of new books, comics and graphic novels in the years to come. Claudia Gray is actually part of this. This got me re-interested in Star Wars publications (aka Lucasfilm Story Group), an area of this fanboy-dom that I’d sort of left behind in my teenage years.
I took to my online bookstore and setup some searches for some of these authors. I also wanted to get on some lists to know about upcoming titles. To re-immerse myself, I read Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron. It was good, but not that good. It made me think this is why I moved on from these books when I was about 15 years-old. However, Bloodline, hooked me back in.
Gray writes Star Wars expanded universe with a lot more nuance and character development than others I’ve read. Perhaps its because she has a bit of an outsider’s perspective. Apparently she’s a lawyer by profession. Whatever the case may be, I find the way she builds this plot to be quite impressive in its complexities.
Unlike some of the other series of books coming out of Lucasfilm, this one goes back to original trilogy characters to drive the story. Maybe that’s why I like it. It is essentially a Leah Organa Solo story. It takes place a few years into the New Republic era. Not too long after the end of Return of the Jedi. Senator Organa is one of the top leaders of the New Republic senate, and there’s a push to name a First Senator, in effect a new Chancellor. This brings about a whole storyline of, “it’s a slippery slope from Chancellor to Emperor, etc.” Ooh, and you can probably put two and two together now. The title of the book, “Bloodline”, combined with the plot I just described (hint-hint: Leah is Vader’s biological daughter…).
Ms. Gray’s character development is, as noted, really strong. I was a particular fan of the Casterfo, Sandine, Seastriker, and Greer personalities and interplay. I’m finding the creation of these new characters layered into the familiar original trilogy stalwarts Leah, Han, Ackbar, etc. to be the right approach for readers over 35.