Now that The Force Awakens is out there in the world, the newly canonical Expanded Universe can get down to the business of filling in the 30-year gab between Episode VII and the Battle of Endor. Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Bloodline may not be the first book set during this period, but it provides the best instance of scene-setting et.
Taking place five years before The Force Awakens, Leia is a respected senator in the Galactic Republic during a period of relative peace – although she can’t feel any of the security that the current generation, far removed from the turmoil she grew up in, currently feels. With the New Republic suffering from the same malaise that dogged its predecessor before it became the Empire, and different factions forming before her eyes, the stage is set for another galactic meltdown.
Leia is the main focus of the story here, and we get an invaluable insight into her mindset: old before her time, tormented by shroud of Darth Vader left hanging over her, and unable to really feel comfortable. Han Solo and C-3PO pop up for extended cameos, but really this is her story, and those who feel that she was underserved screentime-wise in The Force Awakens should be satisfied.
Without giving much away, Bloodline leaves plenty of ground left uncovered. While there isn’t much disclosed about the future Kylo Ren apart from the brief aside, the prospect of the First Order being a larger and more shadowy entity than we previously thought is teased, as is the relatively carefree existence of Han and co during this time (in great contract to the sad state of affairs he’s experiencing in The Force Awakens). It’s very much the calm before the storm, although the clouds are definitely lurking on the horizon.
While we know that no harm will come to the major characters, it’s nice to see the story connect the dots between now and the prequel universe (there are nice references to the likes of Padme, Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi) as well as a look at how certain characters get to where they are by the time of The Force Awakens.
There’s still plenty left to explore, but this is a good start.