Star Wars: Leia by Claudia Gray – A Book Review

Claudia Gray completely won me over with Lost Stars, so I’ll read anything written by her now if it pertains to Star Wars.  I initially felt a little strange as a forty-year-old man reading a book about a sixteen-year-old princess, but because it’s Leia, I forged ahead.  I mean, after all, she is one of the best characters in the Star Wars mythology.

Gray sets this book slightly before Rogue One.  Leia must go through a rite of passage in order to proclaim her readiness to one day be queen, and so she declares three challenges to overcome.  She’s also serving as a junior member of the Senate.  Finally, she’s got a bit of a love story too involving another junior senator.

But, none of that is what this book is really about.  This book is all about establishing Leia as one of the galaxy’s greatest freedom fighters.  You’ll witness her slowly discover her parents’ role with the upstart Rebels, and you’ll finally get to know Bail and Breha Organa as the heroes they are.  This is the first time I ever really cared about Bail, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Breha, her adopted mother, depicted before.  Furthermore, you’ll realize Alderaan was not quite the random target we all believed.

There are some truly tense moments, like when one person in particular seems to recognize Leia’s genetics.  We have appearances by Mon Mothma, Grand Moff Tarkin, the planet Naboo, Wedge Antilles, C3PO, R2D2, and even a reference to Obi Wan Kenobi himself.  The Emperor is a constant presence, and that presence is stifling as his grip tightens across the galaxy.

Ever wonder why a princess is able to handle a blaster so well?  How she can adapt to any environment?  Why she’s just so damn tough!  This book answers all of that.

We even learn specifically why the Organa’s adopted to begin with.

But this book does not function as a plot check-list.  Gray has a fluid, logical story with this book.  She weaves in some great treats for fans, but they never deter or detract from the overall plot.

Leia’s love story in this book didn’t especially compel me, but even it lays the groundwork for why Han Solo would be so appealing to Leia.  Everything in this work serves a purpose.

By far, though, the book flourishes most when it addresses the birth of the Rebellion.  It does not shy away from the complexities of rebelling against authority, and it’s especially strong as the characters themselves realize no rebellion can remain bloodless.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, I think seeing the Organas, in this new light will prove fascinating.

 

Image result for star wars leia book cover

(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

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Lost Stars by Claudia Gray – A Book Review

I’ve read the majority of the new books and graphic novels promoted as “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and this one is, by far, my favorite.

Lost Stars accomplished something that doesn’t happen very often – I could not wait to read it.  I looked forward to getting in bed at the end of the day and diving into this one.  I love to read, don’t misunderstand, but I do so more out of habit than a daily burning passion.  Believe me, I felt authentic excitement for Lost Stars.

The story follows a man named Thane Kyrell and a woman called Ciena Ree.  Though from very different cultures upon the same planet, they befriend one another as children due to their shared passion for star ships.  In fact, after the Empire annexes their world, they cannot wait to join the Imperial Academy in order to navigate the stars.  They both believe in the law and order the Empire provides to the galaxy and want to be a part of the greatness.

Once old enough, they attend and graduate from the Imperial Academy.  Both are standouts and on the fast track to success within the Imperial Fleet.  Before long, they begin to realize their friendship may not be as simple as they thought, and each also realizes their impression of the Empire may have been incorrect.

What happens, though, when one of them decides to leave and the other wants to enact change from within?  What happens when one is a traitor and the other is an Imperial Officer?  What happens when these bitter enemies want nothing more than to save each other’s life, even when it puts them at odds with their respective affiliations?

I loved this book first and foremost because the pacing is masterful.  It starts off a little slow as we get to know the characters as youngsters, but as they age, their situations become far more complex, and by the end of the book I couldn’t read fast enough as their story reached a crescendo.  The various levels of conflict between Thane and Ciena is absolutely riveting.

Furthermore, it proved unique because it provided a previously unrealized perspective in that we see the destruction of the Death Star, the battle at Hoth, and even the conflict of Endor primarily from the Empire’s point of view.  Before this book, it never dawned on me that Luke Skywalker killed thousands of people on the Death Star when he blew it up.  I never even considered the loss of Imperial life.  Our two characters make us care about those loss upon the space station, those who they considered friends.  They make me think of the average Imperial as a person rather than a faceless, evil monster.

And that’s really the magic of Lost Stars.  It made me think about familiar things in a new light.  It made me consider duty versus loyalty.  It forced me to reflect upon the murky middle ground between good and evil.

At 551 pages, this is not a short read, but it pulls you in so fast and so deep that you won’t even mind the length.  In fact, if you’re like me, you won’t want it to end.  Thane and Ciana are now two of my favorite Star Wars characters forevermore.

… I’ll say it: I hope they adapt this book to film.  I’ll be the first in line.