THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS!
I initially reviewed Leia: Princess of Alderaan (by Claudia Gray) for an Attack of the Fandom late last year, but wanted to flesh that out in a larger review for our new website! This book was released in September 2017 as part of Force Friday and I read this on a cross-country flight— I was instantly hooked and finished the book just before landing back in Seattle. I am already a fan of Gray’s other work within the Star Wars Universe (Lost Stars, Bloodline) and this book is no exception. Leia has always been one of my favorite characters in Star Wars and after reading Bloodline, I was excited to see Gray tackle a younger Leia and learning some more details of her life on Alderaan before we see her in A New Hope.
The novel focuses on 16-year-old Leia Organa, on the cusp of claiming her adoptive birthright as princess of Alderaan and brimming with the overconfidence and naivete of youth, along with a fierce desire to do good in the world. I think Gray does an excellent job of writing a teenage Leia-- she’s the whip-smart, take no bull princess we meet in A New Hope, but still going through the growing pains of transitioning into adulthood and all that it entails-- wanting to be seen as an equal by her parents, finding her first love, as well as stubborn, headstrong, and impatient. I loved getting to explore her relationship with Bail and Breha and their role in the growing Rebellion, as we have seen precious little of it before now. We also get our first glimpse of Amilyn Holdo, another member of the Apprentice Legislature, and while her free spirit is a sharp contrast to Leia, their differences turn them into a good team and help them become fast friends.
Gray sprinkles in callbacks to Bloodline (which comes later chronologically but was written earlier) and I found that those details increased my emotional resonance with this book. There was one scene in particular where we meet a character from the prequels while Leia is a on a mercy mission that provoked an “oh shit!” reaction. All in all, I think this novel is an excellent addition to the current Star Wars canon and I loved getting more of Leia’s formative years, as well as getting more background on Bail and Breha. I would highly recommend that fans of Leia read Bloodline and THEN Leia: Princess of Alderaan if you want the emotional resonance Gray’s callbacks provide, but they could also be read in chronological order as there are definitely bits that connect the two novels. Gray seems to be the go-to writer for Leia right now and I personally hope she tapped again to keep bringing Leia’s story to the page!