Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Leia, Princess of Alderaan
Written by Claudia Gray
Published by Disney Lucasfilm Press
Released September 1, 2017 / $17.99
The passing of Carrie Fisher last December caused a great disturbance in The Force.
The world lost a great performer who portrayed one of the most iconic characters in the history of pop culture: Princess Leia.
The loss of Fisher naturally prompted questions regarding the direction of the sequel trilogy.
While movie magic can make all sorts of things happen on the silver screen, The Last Jedi will reportedly be the last time we see Leia.
Claudia Gray marvelously provides another avenue for fans to not only enjoy Leia once more, but to learn even more about her days before A New Hope and up to Rogue One.
Leia: Princess of Alderaan follows a 16-year-old Princess Leia Organa as she learned how to maneuver through the galaxy’s political turmoil while discovering the spark of Rebellion within her family. A hallmark of Leia’s character is that she has no problem telling you what is on her mind and it’s ingrained in her to do the right thing and help those in need. Even in her younger years, Leia possessed these traits.
The tension rises throughout the book as Leia yearns to cut through the bureaucratic red tape of the Imperial Senate. Those with an abundance of political capital often have egos, which need to be massaged in order to get something out of them. Leia understands how and why the game needs to be played; however, it draws her ire when these permissible machinations occur at the expense of life and liberty.
Keeping it real is Leia’s strong suit, but learning when not to keep it real is the struggle of the norm.
Leia is not only a champion for good, she is also not afraid to roll up her sleeves and is very aware that she comes from privilege. The optics of her upbringing interferes with her objectives at times. Still she appreciates, but never forgets, that she has more than most, which strengthens her resolve.
This is a young adult novel so there are some romantic entanglements in the book. Please, please, don’t let those two factors turn you away. Romance has always been a part of a galaxy far, far away. The political tone is not diluted either. In many ways, it’s the centerpiece of the narrative. There is not a lot of fighting or space battles in a book carrying the Star Wars name. Politics earns its place to such a degree that it makes me wish that Claudia Gray had a hand in writing those films.
Speaking of the prequels, there is a character we haven’t seen or heard from since The Phantom Menace. This individual’s introduction to the Princess brought about all sorts of questions that increased the tension with each word printed on the page.
Bail Organa is a poignant figure not only in the Rebellion but because he’s Leia’s adopted father, however, we never knew anything about Leia’s mother, until now. Queen Breha Organa is examined at length and Gray does a great job of creating the connective thread of sort. Breha is a considerate and strong-minded leader with years of experience, something Leia never truly had in the original trilogy due to the breakout of the galactic civil war. Breha deserves a lot of credit for Leia’s natural acumen for leadership and I hope we get more of her in future novels.
Claudia Gray’s previous work with Lost Stars, Bloodlines and now Leia: Princess of Alderaan makes three for three when it comes to the new canon novels.
The writing in all three books consists of masterful storytelling that makes the adventure easy to visualize. All three also show the reverence that Gray has for Princess Leia, even in Lost Stars when her appearance was brief, but elegantly memorable. Leia’s perspective of that moment is expressed here and the same goes for Bloodlines.
Princess of Alderaan’s character study of its titular protagonist is one of the best pieces of new canon that has been produced. The esteem that people have for Leia will certainly be elevated in general and especially going into The Last Jedi, making Claudia Gray the best Star Wars writer since Timothy Zahn.