Monday, May 9, 2016

Star Wars Bloodline Book Review (No Spoilers): Political Intrigue

One of the biggest complaints from the Star Wars prequels is the political aspects the movies focus on. People think the Senate scenes are boring, and I agree for the most part. This doesn’t mean political films are bad. Lucas just wasn’t able to draw us in with the story he tried to tell. If they were to make a movie out of Claudia Gray’s Star Wars Bloodline it would be the political thriller the prequel films should have been. It has compelling characters, even ones we don’t know, and an enthralling twisting story.
The events of Bloodline take place six years before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The First Order is still lurking in the shadows, and has not made its presence known. The New Republic Senate is ineffective and fractured into two parties, the Centrist and Populist. The Centrist believe in a strong central government and control.  The populist believe a strong central government is what lead to the Empire and should be avoided at all cost. Leia is a Populist and an influential one, but who is getting tired of the political struggle and ready to retire. She however finds one more reason to stick around after an emissary from Ryloth pleads to the Senate to look into organized crime activity happening in his area. This spurs Leia into action, but she is forced to accept the help of a popular Centrist Senator, Ransolm Casterfo, so the mission can proceed.
Claudia Gray did a fantastic job in Lost Stars of portraying the mindset of Imperials. She showed how normal people with certain mindsets could believe in the Empire and keep working for it. Ransolm Casterfo is another example of Gray introducing us to an extremely nuanced character. We at first view him from Leia’s eyes. As an Empire loving arrogant fool. By the end of the novel you want him to succeed just as much, if not more than, Leia. At the end he wasn’t really a fan of the Empire with Palpatine and Vader ruling, but more of the control and order it provided. Misguided in my opinion, but Gray paints in him in a way where his views are plausible and you can at least see his side of the argument. One thing is for certain, something has to change with the Senate or the New Republic could collapse. It is hard not to do draw some parallels between the situation Gray paints in the book and our current political climate. I won’t get bogged down here, but I think she made some good points about real life politics in a galaxy far far away.
Along with the functional political story in the book the main mystery plot is well done. I enjoyed trying to figure out how all the parts fit together and who was on what side. There are some big reveals that have impact on The Force Awakens. If you want a good entry point into the Star Wars books this would be a great place to start because it introduces many interesting facts that play into Episode 7. While reading I didn’t necessarily like the reaction to a big reveal in the book. I didn’t think characters in the universe would react the way they did when they found out a truth, but after thinking about it more I ended up liking the choice. I think the choice plays a big part for where Leia is during the Force Awakens. Without events in this book it would make sense for Leia to still be a Senator in the New Republic, and this helps explains why she is not.
The only other issue I had was how Han came swooping in at one point of the book. It was too convenient and I thought they could have used him in another way, or had him be introduced a little earlier to make it seem more plausible. It is a small gripe for a long novel. I do think some will take issue with the reaction to the big reveal in the novel.  I don’t think this book may be for everyone. If you are looking for an action packed adventure, this isn’t it. It is more of a slow burn, but the action in it was perfect for Star Wars. I enjoyed this book and can see myself listening to it again on audiobook, which is something I reserve for only some of my favorite books.
Claudia Gray has written two great novels for the Star Wars universe and I hope we get more books from her. If they decide to write a book about the fall of Ben Solo, she is the author I want to write it. She writes characters so well, if someone could show Ben’s decent into darkness I think it would be her. She can show his perspective, and while I know many don’t think he can be redeemed, I think Claudia could add good depth to him as a character.
Have you read Bloodlines yet, if so what did you think? Did you like the how the story progressed or did you think characters in the universe would have reacted to certain news differently? If you haven’t read it yet will you give it a try? Comment and let me know. 

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