Page Count: Paperback, 394
Author: Claudia Gray
Timeline: Follows Return of the Jedi and precedes The Force Awakens
Main Characters: Leia Organa and Ransolm Casterfo
Brief Synopsis: It is the age of the New Republic, but a silent threat is slowly growing in power that is strongly sympathetic to the old Empire.
Claudia Gray has yet to miss with one of her Star Wars books. Her writing and storytelling have been so good that I’m wanting to branch out and read her non-Star Wars novels. Bloodline was another great book set within the Star Wars universe. It had a conceptual feel to it, much like Queen’s Shadow and Catalyst. With these types of books, the storytelling must be high quality because the action is often times lacking and the writing is detailed. Gray was certainly up to the challenge. This was her most detailed Star Wars work yet, but it did not lose any readability due to the details. It is both a great standalone book and a great introduction to the world of the Sequel Trilogy. Gray has yet to strike out with any of her books so far and I will be highly anticipating her future work.
Characters (19/20 pts)
Star Wars novels that focus on prominent characters within the universe have an upperhand on novels that do not. This is because the reader already has an understanding and emotional attachment to the character. Because Bloodline was focused on Leia, Gray did not have to develop her main character from scratch. So, I look for what else I can learn about the character. Leia did have further development in Bloodline that helped to explain how she changed between episodes 6 and 7. It may not have been as significant development as we got in Leia, Princess of Alderaan, but it was still good.
But I don’t think the strength for this section comes just from Leia. Gray also created several other characters that had significant depth to them. Senator Ransolm Casterfo had to be my favorite. His character is fairly unique and one that we haven’t exactly seen in Star Wars. He also has a pretty interesting relationship with Leia, just adding to the complexity of each character. Casterfo actually changes more as a character within his arch in this book than Leia does. Throughout his story, I developed an emotional attachment to him and was invested in what was happening to him.
However, Casterfo wasn’t the only good new character that Bloodlines introduced. Characters such as Lady Carise Sindian, Greer Sonnel, Korr Sella, Joph Seastriker, and Rinnrivin Di were also solid with their own complexities, depth, and character arcs. I just won’t spend more time discussing the details of their characters, just now that they were strong. Gray did well with developing her characters and it earns her a score of 19 points.
Writing Style (19/20 pts)
Well, another Claudia Gray novel means that we have another strong score for the writing quality. As I mentioned previously, the writing style in Bloodline felt a little different from Gray’s other novels. It was much more detailed. This caused the reading to not be quite as smooth as her other books, but this style was needed as the content in the book had a lot of depth to it. It was heavily focused on politics, so the writing had to have many details to completely describe the ideas. It felt less like a typical Claudia Gray novel, but there were still sections where I recognized her style. I credit this to Gray’s skill and adaptability as a writer. She was able to write with a slightly different style and still have a writing quality that was above average for Star Wars novels (this is saying a lot because all Star Wars novels are well written). So, Bloodline is receiving a strong score of 19 points for its writing style.
Plot (19.5/20 pts)
The two biggest problems I have with books for their plot is the pacing of the novel and how it ends. I had absolutely no problems with the pacing or closure regarding the plot of Bloodline. From very early on in the book, I had a good idea of where the plot was heading. This did not make the book predictable, but it was enough to keep me turning pages throughout. It also had enough peaks and valleys early on that successfully built up to a climactic and satisfying finish. Writing closure into a story, and for characters, is no easy task for an author. Gray was able to do so with multiple characters, and that is something that I definitely don’t take for granted. I hate it when I feel the story is incomplete after I finish the last page. I certainly did not have this feeling after finishing Bloodline. My only complaint with the plot is that some of the action scenes seemed to be a little bit forced. They just seemed a bit out of place within the overall story. But this won’t stop Bloodline from receiving another good score, this time of 19.5 points.
Intrigue (18.5/20 pts)
For being very detailed and having a prominent focus on politics, Bloodline was still an intriguing read. There may be some personal bias here because I am very interested in galactic politics within Star Wars (ironically enough because I could care less about real-world politics), but I still believe the interest level should transfer to most readers. I think the strength in the intrigue largely comes from the high-quality plot. Early on in the book, I knew where it was headed and wanted to find out what would happen. This caused me to be motivated to keep reading and not want to put it down. The only thing hurting the intrigue is the detailed nature and complexity of the book. This just caused me to need some breaks while reading the book because it was sometimes a lot to take in. But that doesn’t significantly hurt the intrigue of Bloodline, it gets another strong score of 18.5 points.
What Does It Add? (17/20 pts)
We’ve had four very strong scores for Bloodline so far, but we now get to the book’s only real weakness. Here is what it adds to Star Wars: an explanation of politics within the new republic era, an explanation to how the First Order came to power, and how the Resistance started to rise against it. While this new content was needed within this time period, it was the sole purpose of the book. So, this content was expected and serves as the minimum for what I was expecting from Bloodline. That being said, this content was very good. It exceeded my expectations for its detail. I was very interested in it. That being said, I still wish Bloodline added more to Star Wars that was significant outside of this book’s timeline. It does tie into the Sequel Trilogy a bit, but for the most part it felt self-contained (this is because much has changed between the time period of Bloodline and that of the Sequel Trilogy). This is also a problem I have with books such as Most Wanted and Resistance Reborn. These books are written for the purpose of supplying background for a movie, but they don’t tell us much more than that. Leia, Princess of Alderaan, written for The Last Jedi, probably did the best job, of the books I’ve read so far, of supplying information to Star Wars outside of the book’s intended purpose. But because Bloodline did not add much outside of its purpose, itis getting a slightly below average score of 17 points.
Logic (0 pts)
I looked very hard for the meme that went something like this: “Claudia Gray watching The Rise of Skywalker finding out that Leia had gone through training to be a Jedi.” Of course, this was followed by a humorous picture exaggerating the face Gray would have been making. Alas, I did not save the meme when I found it and my research proved to be unsuccessful. I was really hoping to show the meme directly below this section. My point is that Leia was supposedly training to be a Jedi around the same timeline as Bloodline and Gray obviously was unaware of that when she wrote the book. So, one could argue that logically some of what happens in this book did not make sense because Leia should have Jedi powers, but I would be pretty insane to take points away from Bloodline because of that. It would be more practical to take points away from TROS. So, I will neither add to nor take away points from Bloodline for its logic.
So, my final score for Bloodline is a 93, or a low A. It comes in tied for my 4th best book that I have reviewed so far (keep in mind this only my 12th review). However, it is the favorite book that I have read so far that wasn’t focused on action. Bloodline was more driven on being conceptual, and it did a very good job at that. I’m glad that Gray was trusted with Leia’s character because both books that she wrote focused on Leia were very good. For anyone wanting more Leia content or more information on the gap between the Original and Sequel Trilogies, then Bloodline is a definite must read.
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).