Happy Saturday, all!
Today, we're also reviewing Leia: Princess of Alderaan, by the always-blog favorite, Claudia Gray.
Claudia introduces us to Leia at a pivotal movement in her life - she's just turned sixteen, and is working on her claim to the crown. However, she quickly learns that her parents are involved in something that may pit them against the empire...
Published September 1st 2017 by Disney Lucasfilm Press
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
But Leia has worries beyond her claim to the crown. Her parents, Breha and Bail, aren’t acting like themselves lately; they are distant and preoccupied, seemingly more concerned with throwing dinner parties for their allies in the Senate than they are with their own daughter. Determined to uncover her parents’ secrets, Leia starts down an increasingly dangerous path that puts her right under the watchful eye of the Empire.
And when Leia discovers what her parents and their allies are planning behind closed doors, she finds herself facing what seems like an impossible choice: dedicate herself to the people of Alderaan–including the man she loves–or to the galaxy at large, which is in desperate need of a rebel hero…
And that's how Princess Lei and I became acquainted. My dad popped in his VHS of Return of the Jedi, and a lifelong love of Princess Lei and Star Wars was born.
(It would be a few years before I learned that there were actually two more movies in the trilogy, but that's a story for another time.)
So when I realized that Claudia Grey would be writing young Leia's story, I was overjoyed. Luckily for me, Disney sent me a copy to review.
Claudia introduces us to sixteen-year-old Princess Leia; she's clever, ambitious and determined to prove herself worthy to inherit the Alderaan throne. But Leia also has more worries than she lets on - her parents have been acting strange for months now, and she's concerned this is a reflection on how they feel about her. However, Leia quickly learns that their worries involve the fate of the entire empire...
It's evident from the very first page, that Grey innately understands Leia. She's taken the Leia we've met in the films and in Bloodline, and gone back in time to find the roots of what eventually blossoms into the character most of us are familiar with, and does an exceptional job of it.
Leia at sixteen, already shows some of the tenacity and fierceness that we recognize from the films, but she's also more uncertain, more hesitant and more inexperienced. Her tendency to jump headfirst into situations is less the strategies of a battle-proven princess, and more the impetuous tendencies of a young girl who is unsure of what she's doing, and can sometimes cause catastrophic mistakes - as she learns early on.
But because this is Leia, and because she's surrounded by parents who've taught her how to use her royalty as both weapon and a shield, Gray does a solid job of showing how Leia learns quickly on her feet. Through trial and error, and the occasional explosive encounter, she learns there is a bigger world than her own, but with a part for her to play in this new normal. Gray's dialogue and writing for Leia's developing thought process is spot on, and she often delivers lines that I could have easily seen Carrie Fisher delivering..
Outside of Leia's core journey, Gray adds in secondary characters that are not only delightful - Amilyn Holdo makes several appearances, which will have Last Jedi fans excited - but also formative. Leia develops a romantic interest in a fellow Alderaan Kier - a gentle reminder that there is still love and goodness, even in this chaotic world.
Without giving too many spoilers away, I have to say: this book is a must-read for all Star Wars fans, but particularly if you're planning on watching The Last Jedi.
Highly recommend, full stop.
About the author:
Claudia Gray is the author of Star Wars: Bloodline and Defy the Stars, as well as the Firebird series, the Evernight series and the Spellcaster series. She has worked as a lawyer, a journalist, a disc jockery, and a particularly ineffective waitress. Her lifelong interests include old houses, classic movies, vintage style, and history. She lives in New Orleans. Find her at claudiagray.com, facebook.com/authorclaudiagray, and @claudiagray.