I love reading. There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book. Especially if said book is set in the Star Wars universe. For Christmas, I got a couple of new Star Wars books to add to my ever growing collection. I’m a big fan of all the new novels so when I heard about a new novel focusing on everyone’s favourite Princess of Alderaan, I was stoked. Written by the fantastic Claudia Gray who also wrote the brilliant ‘Bloodline‘, this story focuses on Leia during the early days of the Rebellion. So how does it compare to all the other stories in the ever expanding Star Wars timeline? Here’s my review of ‘Leia – Princess of Alderaan’ but be warned, there be spoilers.
A quick plot summary. Leia is sixteen years old and about to face the biggest challenge of her life so far. To be named heir to the throne of Alderaan, Leia must prove herself in mind, body and heart. But her parents, Bail and Breha are acting strangely and Leia is determined to uncover their secrets.
Now that I’ve had a few days to digest the story, it is probably one of my favourite stories in the Star Wars novel timeline. The story itself is quite small and ultimately has little to no bearing on the overall Star Wars-verse but I actually liked that. I liked that this was a smaller story, it’s own little world. There were times where I wasn’t sure where the story was going; that some chapters felt like the story hadn’t really progressed. But it was more than made up for within the overall arc of the book.
Much of the story focuses on Leia’s relationship with her parents as well as her friends in the Apprentice Legislature. Gray does a fantastic job of creating a teenage Leia that feels authentic. She is still the feisty, resourceful princess that we know and love but there is naivety and doubt to her. There are lessons to be learned which ultimately help shape Leia into the princess that we know her to be and I liked seeing this side of Leia depicted in this story.
Of these relationships, it was the one between Leia and Kier Domadi that I enjoyed the most. Everybody loves a bit of romance and I enjoyed watching their relationship go from an almost mistrust of each other to a genuine love and respect. He had genuine affection not just for Leia but also for their home world. And eventually he has to make a choice – Leia or Alderaan. And even though I didn’t always agree with the decisions he makes throughout the story, I can understand why and how he came to making them. People can make poor choices from good intentions. It was some really fantastic storytelling as I continually kept waiting for Kier to turn on Leia and her parents to the Empire. It was interesting hearing Kier’s arguments against forming a Rebellion. His fear of the Empire destroying Alderaan knowing full well that this does indeed come to pass. It all felt quite tragic knowing that his fears are legitimate. Even more tragic knowing that it is the capture of Leia, his lover, that is the catalyst to the destruction of the planet he loves. Edward Cullen and Bella Swan wishes they could be this dramatic!
It was also really good to finally be introduced to Leia’s mother ‘Breha’. And she is exactly how I expected her to be. A strong leader who is incredibly kind with even greater convictions. She understands that forming a Rebellion means war and that with war means live lost. But she knows that this is a price worth paying if it means freedom for the galaxy.
Then there is Bail Organa, Leia’s father, who we have seen before in previous movies. This is a different Bail Organa however. Depicted as a calm and wise leader in the movies, this is a Bail fraught with fear for his family and his people. He’s distant and at times cold towards Leia throughout the story, preoccupied with building the Rebel Alliance. But he finds his way back to his family in the end, realising that he cannot do what he needs to without the full support from his family.
With this book being part of the ‘Journey to The Last Jedi’ collection, there are references in this book that connect up with the latest movie. The biggest of these is the inclusion of Amilyn Holdo. The best way to describe Holdo is the ‘Luna Lovegood’ of Star Wars. Her hair colour changes constantly and her clothes are designed to match. She often speaks in a way that the others don’t understand. But she’s incredibly likeable just like Luna Lovegood. That being said, she is nothing like the Admiral Holdo we see in The Last Jedi. I know there is roughly 40 years between them but they feel like two completely different characters. Gray was probably given free reign on how to bring Holdo to life. I just hope there will be more stories to flesh her out even more. Finally, there is a chapter that involves Leia travelling to the planet Crait, the incredible planet seen in The Last Jedi. While I did enjoy this chapter, it did feel a little shoehorned in just so they could tie this book to The Last Jedi promotions.
Probably my favourite part of the story was Leia’s relief mission to Naboo. In this chapter Leia travels to Omoan, a moon of Naboo, to provide mining equipment. Upon arrival, she discovers that Imperial Officers are selling it off for profit. The Queen of Naboo and Leia team up, meeting with Moff Panaka to discuss this but he seems more interested in Leia and her adoption. When I first read this chapter, I found it really strange that Moff Panaka was asking all of these quqestions regarding Leia’s birth parents. How on earth would he suspect that Leia was the daughter of Padmé Amidala, former Queen of Naboo? It wasn’t until I had finished the story that Moff Panaka has appeared in Star Wars before – he was formerly Captain Panaka, head of security during Queen Amidala’s rule. This was a nice little touch as I always wondered what happened to him.
‘Leia – Princess of Alderaan’ is a brilliantly written, well told story that builds new dimensions to not only Leia but a host of new and existing characters in the Star Wars verse. While it did feel a little slow at times in terms of the story progressing, I was always gripped and connected with these characters. It was great seeing Leia’s life before the storm and also spending time on Alderaan knowing it’s grim fate in the years to come. If you’re a Star Wars fan then you’ll love this. If you’re not, I’m sure you’d enjoy it too.
Leia – Princess of Alderaan is available to order now on Amazon.
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