I have traveled from a galaxy far, far, away to give you my review on one of the most interesting political thriller novels, that isn’t Game of Thrones or House of Cards. But rather about two factions of politics at war with each other and Senator Leia is stuck in the middle of this amazingly told story, written masterfully by Claudia Gray.
Set six years prior to The Force Awakens, the New Republic is fractured by two opposing political factions. The Populist, who believe that individual planets should be able to govern themselves, while the opposing Centrist believe in a strong central government with an equally strong military. Leia is now a senator as has grown weary from her time, with all the endless debate and shouting that goes nowhere, but she can’t retire just yet, because she’s sent on a mission to uncover this criminal empire that threaten to undo everything the New Republic has worked so hard to achieve. On this mission however she isn’t accompanied alone…
Ransolm Casterfo is a new character introduced in this novel and he is a shining star. Casterfo is young, ambitious man who is a rising star in the Centrist and in the Senate. When you first see him, you see him dressed very elegantly, his demeanor is very arrogant and when he and Leia first meet, things get heated. (Mild Spoiler) Casterfo collects old Imperial memorabilia and this drives Leia insane, but you come to realize that Casterfo isn’t like many of the centrist who want the Empire to return, but rather a politician who puts principle over allegiance. He gets a great arc throughout the novel and you completely understand where he comes from in terms of his ideology.
The chemistry between Casterfo and Leia is rich and plays around our very own politics. The Galactic Senate are in endless debates, which get nothing done and they practically hate each other. What’s great about the two characters are where you see that although, they have opposing views in politics, they both see the flaws and advantages in each others factions, which not only form an alliance, but a friendship. But the book is about Leia and her struggle; how she’s never really been free and has mostly put duty in front of herself and you get to see that take a toll on her, she just wants to fly away with Han and have quality time with her son Ben, and just be at peace, but she can never have it. There’s a scandal that happens and although you know it happens, it still affects you when you read it as you just see tragedy befall onto Leia. I would also like to add that Leia has never been written better and reading her is just like watching her in the original trilogy.
What I find amazing about the story is how well and easily accessible it is to read. There have been several Star Wars books in the past that at times may seem daunting to read, but Claudia Gray manages to make it approachable to read and be sucked into the world of Star Wars. The novel sets up what the galaxy is like in the Force Awakens era. You get to find out how the First Order came to power and how the Resistance started. Many questions you may have had from the film can be answered in this film. You get to know what the criminal underbelly is like and how they operate. This novel certainly helps tie the 30 year gap between Return of the Jedi and Force Awakens and actually adds some needed flavor to the film itself.
If I really needed to put anything negative about the novel, it was that I thought the other supporting characters like Joph or Greer, but that’s only a few of other great characters like Rinnrivin Di, a criminal mobster and Carise Sindian, a power hungry Centrist, with strong ties towards a looming evil.
In short, Claudia Gray creates a suspenseful, yet touching political thriller, with a twist of Star Wars and a heavy dose of Leia leading the charge and being the natural born leader she’s always been. For any Star Wars fan, I implore you to read this book to not only read a great story in general, but to also enhance your experience with the Star Wars saga.