Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray answers many (but not all) of the questions I had after watching The Force Awakens. You would think that things would have improved in the galaxy after the death of Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi–and they did. For a while. A generation grew up under Imperial rule, and the following one had no idea what it was like. Some people didn’t learn from history, while others took all the wrong lessons.
Since Mon Mothma stepped away from politics, nothing seems to be getting done in the senate. A proposition is made to create the position of “First Senator,” in the hopes that things will change. Some see this as a bad thing, since the last person who had that sort of “ultimate power” turned out to be a Sith Lord.
Princess Leia’s name is bought forth as the candidate representing the Populist party, while the Centrist party is too busy infighting to come up with someone to oppose her. Unlike the prequels, Bloodline is Star Wars politics done right. But that is only part of the story.
Bloodline is set six years prior to The Force Awakens, and it takes place at the intersection of “The Law of Unintended Consequences” and “Nature Abhors a Vacuum.” An emisary from Ryloth asks the Republic Senate to investigate the Nikto crime syndicate. Many cartels tried to fill the void left after the death of Jabba the Hutt, and the Niktos, led by Rinnrivin Di, came out on top. This organization is has a farther reach and is more well funded than the Hutt’s–and their plans are far more sinister.
The breakout star of Bloodline is Senator Ransolm Casterfo. He volunteers on behalf of the Centrist party to join Leia in a bipartisan investigation of the claims made by the emisary. Casterfo is filled with contradictions, and it’s those contradictions that make him so interesting. I will not say what they are, but Leia’s first impression of the senator leads her to take an instant dislike to him.
If you like The Force Awakens and want to learn a bit of the backstory as to what the latest war is about, then Bloodline is essential reading. Trust me, there is far more to the novel than a bunch of people sitting in a semicircle and having lengthy conversations. There are action sequences that are thrilling, and enough political intrigue for a slew of 1970s movies. Imagine if the Star Wars prequels had been a bit more like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and you have a bit of an idea what Bloodline is like. If you read Bloodline and enjoy it, pick up Lost Stars, also by Claudia Gray. These are my two favorite Star Wars novels thus far.