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Bloodline (Star Wars) by Claudia Gray
Review by Jon Guenther
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345511362
Date: 03 May 2016 List Price $28.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

If you're looking for a novel with plenty of intergalactic politics and alien subterfuge, you're going to enjoy Star Wars: Bloodlines. If you're looking for a Star Wars novel, you're probably going to want to look elsewhere.

That statement may seem a bit harsh but before I get into my reasons behind it, here's the basics. It's about twenty-five years (best guess) after the defeat of the Galactic Empire. Princess Leia is a senator in the New Republic, a politic body that is apparently very much a predecessor of the senate of the Old Republic: mired by bureaucracy and red tape and pretty ineffective at managing the affairs of the government. The government is split into two key factions: the Populists who believe in a democratic form of government where all parties have an equal say, and the Centrists who believe in centralized power within the New Republic government "guiding" the affairs of all.

The book is well-written from the point of storytelling and craft; unfortunately, I just didn't get the Star Wars vibe. It almost seemed as if maybe the official story group didn't give Ms. Gray a whole lot to work with. My expectations for a story involving Leia would also have a good dose of Han Solo and Chewbacca, comic relief between the droids, and plenty of action to set up the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I'm just not sure what happened here. In this book, it takes forty pages before Leia and new character Ransolm Casterfo, a young and ambitious Centrist senator, actually get to the planet of Bastatha on a secret mission for the New Republic and then another twenty pages before we get our first taste of action.

Subsequently, the plot then goes in a completely different direction with a whole lot of coincidental events and very little substance. There are also pages on pages of meaningless dialog that rehashes events from Return of the Jedi that contribute nothing to the story or narrative.

Beside a plodding pace, all the elements of a Star Wars novel are there but they're derivative and not really taken advantage of in fresh ways. I saw no strong mythical archetypes, no authentic romance, no spectacular space battles, no accessible humor. Worse, the Force seemed utterly absent. I did see a lot of events that were derivative like a feeble cantina sequence (can't have Star Wars without an alien bar scene) and space races eerily reminiscent of pod-racing.

As it stands on its own merits, Star Wars: Bloodlines might have a place as a straightforward political SF tale. It could have worked as a novella, even. But I would have trouble recommending this as an enjoyable tale for strong Star Wars fans. It lacked on a number of levels, which makes it more difficult since I had no trouble with the book or story, I just didn't see its place in the Star Wars canon, particularly not its necessity as a tale preceding the events of Episode VII. Unfortunately, Star Wars: Bloodlines could have been so much more and instead it just ended up disappointing me.

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