I recently read Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray. I had read novels in this franchise off and on, and became enamored with the story lines post-Empire, so I decided to give this one a try. The story occurs at a moment when Leia Organa has been on the New Republic Senate for some time now, and any hope she ever had for true and democratic governance has turned into gridlock and partisan bickering. When she learns of new threats to the New Republic from within and from without, she springs into action, only to have a massive surprise throw the grandest of wrenches into her plans, and her ability to see her mission through to its end.
In a nutshell, this is an excellent read for a number of reasons:
First is writing style. Gray’s prose is clear and articulate, and scenes/situations are well laid out. SF/F novels occasionally have difficulty knitting scenes and sub-plots together, but I had no trouble moving from one to the other in this book. And that’s a plus considering the depth of situations presented.
That leads to the author’s handling of the story. This is political intrigue in addition to science fiction. As a Senator, Leia finds herself in any number of situations that she must weave through, and not one of them is simple by a far stretch. Anyone who creates such a web of intrigues for their characters runs the risk of losing control of them, and thus losing the reader. Not this author—Gray moves adeptly from one to the next, and to the next, making sure that as the story progresses through them, everything makes sense and nothing is left out. I never found myself questioning the scenes or the characters’ motives.
I also found myself wonderfully surprised in many places in this novel. Unexpected turns are nothing new to fiction, but it’s how the author presents and arranges them that help make for a good read, and there is no shortage of that here.
And because the story’s arrangement and the writing style are so expertly done, and so well melded with action, I found that I could not put this book down! Any plans to read 5 or 10 pages easily led to 30+ before having to force myself to stop reading. I was disappointed to finish the book because I wanted to go on. This is a wonderful departure from the opposite problem of stopping a book mid-way through out of boredom, which I’ve done with many other novels.
Lastly, though this franchise in general has elements of military science fiction, it is light on the military side and heavier on character and situational development. It is easy to discern personalities and backgrounds, and Gray continues this tradition. Leia is as recognizable and relatable here as she is elsewhere in the Star Wars universe, with no sense of her character having been diminished or diluted in any way. The result is that any level of SF/F reader from the most hard core to those marginally interested in the genre can enjoy this particular novel.
I definitely look forward to reading more work from this author.