Page count: Hardcover 409
Author: Claudia Gray
Timeline: Precedes A New Hope
Main characters: Leia Organa, Amilyn Holdo, and Kier Domadi
Brief synopsis: While challenging herself to be validated as the future Queen of Alderaan, a Rebellion that her parents are helping orchestrate takes Leia by surprise.
I have some odd mixed feelings over this book. It took me longer to read than expected because around halfway through it was unclear the direction that the book was headed. Because of this, I wasn’t as motivated to keep picking it up to read. But then holy cow, about the last quarter of the book was incredible the ending was simply masterful. So, for a decent amount of the book I was a bit indifferent towards it, and at the end I was SO psyched! Pretty odd mix of feelings. What I will say is it reminded me of Queen’s Shadow (a book about Padme) quite a bit. Both of them involved female leads getting heavily involved in politics that relied heavily on conceptual content over action. While Queen’s Shadow did not do this great in my opinion, Leia: Princess of Alderaan accomplished it well. The ending had my psyched to watch both A New Hope and The Last Jedi, and whenever I have reactions like that, I know I enjoyed the book! It may not be my favorite book by Claudia Gray, but it is still a high-quality Star Wars novel.
Characters (19/20 pts)
Unsurprisingly, the main character in this novel was Leia so that is where my focus will be for this section. Gray did a great job developing Leia and made her a lot more relatable than I was expecting. In A New Hope, I never thought of Leia as a super relatable character because she didn’t seem to struggle much. In Leia: Princess of Alderaan, in many ways Leia seemed like an average 16-year old. She faced many similar challenges that the rest of us have faced at that age and this gave her character some additional depth and an emotional attachment. In some ways, we find ourselves living vicariously through her. So overall, Leai’s character development in this book was awesome and I found myself both attached to and rooting for her at the end of the book. As this appears to be a common theme with good books I’ve reviewed, this is a good sign for Leia: Princess of Alderaan!
While Leia was the focus, Amilyn Holdo (Admiral Holdo) was also a major character in this novel. As Holdo has a major role in The Last Jedi, I believe her introduction was an important one. Now, I am really not a big fan of Holdo’s character in The Last Jedi as she is a pretty horrible leader and her actions are pretty chaotic. She has been one of my most hated characters in Star Wars. That being said, I really liked the Holdo that I was introduced to by Claudia Gray. She came off as a bit of an oddball, but her character was likeable, relatable, and genuine. If I had read this book before watching The Last Jedi, I would have been less upset about the actions of Holdo and more upset at the writers of the movie for doing this character wrong. So, by reading this book I don’t have a new perspective on what Holdo does in the movie, but I do have a larger appreciation for Holdo’s character holistically. Because of Gray’s strong character development and depth, I am giving 19 points for characters.
Writing Style (19/20 pts)
I know I’m not alone in saying that Claudia Gray is my favorite Star Wars author. Her writing style adds much depth while being fairly easy to read. Her way of developing characters makes them very relatable as she touches on unconscious thoughts and emotions that cause the reader to become more in touch with the character. However, this book didn’t feel quite as well written as her others that I’ve read: Master and Apprentice & Lost Stars. But it was still an above average written Star Wars book. Because of that, I am giving 19 points for the book’s writing style.
Plot (17.5/20 pts)
As I stated in my gut reaction, for a decent part of the book it was hard to say what exactly the story was moving towards. This took away from some of my motivation to read the book because I wasn’t dying to know what was going to happen next. But as I’ve mentioned before, how a book ends have a lot to do with the overall quality of the book. And this book’s ending was pretty incredible! I tore through the last pages of the book as I couldn’t put it down, and I was not disappointed! I won’t give anything away, but the ending was everything that I felt it should have been. It provided excellent closure for the story and was a good interlude into A New Hope. Although, I can’t ignore that for most of the book the plot seemed unclear, so I am rewarding a slightly lower, but still good, score of 17.5 points.
Intrigue (17/20 pts)
I don’t want to get too repetitive in this section, but many of it is pretty similar to what was said for the plot. For most of the book, my intrigue wasn’t as high as I expected. At the end though, my intrigue was through the roof! So, there was quite a bit of disparity regarding the intrigue throughout the book. What this section adds is the writing style, it significantly adds to the intrigue. Because it reads so easily, I could read and not put it down when I wanted to. But even though the writing style was so good, I was not as intrigued by most of the book as I expected. That is why I’m giving 17 points for intrigue.
What does it add? (18/20 pts)
In terms of the story, this book added a much-needed background for one of Star Wars’ most iconic female characters. When Leia and Luke got separated from birth, we learned a great deal about Luke’s upbringing, but we don’t see what Leia had to deal with growing up. Through Leia: Princess of Alderaan, we get this background to her story that I was needing. It gives her character more relatability than we see in the Original Trilogy making her character much stronger. It also gives much more meaning behind the destruction of Alderaan as we learn more about the significance of that loss to not just Leia, but also to the galaxy. So along with containing some clues about The Last Jedi (as this was much of the book’s purpose), it added background information on A New Hope as well.
Along with adding to the story, Leia: Princess of Alderaan also gave an interesting perspective on using the force. Although the moment was brief, it gave the reader a glimpse of what it is like for a being to tap into and use the force. This was a pretty cool little addition that I geeked out over. Although the moment was brief, what it added was still significant.
Overall, what this book added was fairly expected for this novel. It provided background on the movies that I expected and also had the little addition that added to the Star Wars universe as a whole. Because of that, I am giving it the about average score of 18 points.
Logic (0 pts)
There’s nothing in Leia: Princess of Alderaan that significantly adds to or takes away from the logic in the Star Wars universe. But it had an opportunity I think to help explain why Holdo made such interesting leadership decisions in The Last Jedi. Gray likes to take things that seem confusing to Star Wars fans in movies and helps give reason behind them in her books. She did this notably in Lost Stars. I think if this book was written after The Last Jedi that Gray would have done something similar with Holdo, but because it was written before the release of the movie she did not. So, I am neither giving nor taking away points for the logic.
So, my final score for Leia: Princess of Alderaan is a 90.5/100, or an A minus. This is less than I expected for a book by Claudia Gray, but as the plot seemed a bit confusing throughout much of the book, I think the rating is fair. But the end of the book is what made it so good and will be a big reason why I will be recommending this book to others. All fans of Leia MUST read this book as it adds to her character in a way that the movies were unable to do. Also, because it was written by Gray, you know you are going to get a high quality read. Leia: Princess of Alderaan may not have been Gray’s best Star Wars work, but it is still one of the higher quality Star Wars novels out there.
I hope you enjoyed this book review and if there is a book that you want me to read or review, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. As for now, I will only be doing Canon books (but in the future that might change).
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