Having grown up watching my brother’s VHS tapes of the original Star Wars films, George Lucas’s expansive and exciting world and stories have always been a part of my life. And, like many others, Princess Leia has always been my favorite—in part, because she’s a blaster-wielding princess, but also because she was a bit of an outsider. Someone who didn’t fit the stereotypical mold and who fought her way to the top.
So, after seeing The Last Jedi and loving Leia’s character arc, I wanted to know more about the princess and general I thought I knew. And this is where Claudia Gray’s Leia, Princess of Alderaan comes in. I have loved every book I’ve read by Claudia and Leia is no exception. Here, readers see Leia as a teenager, an eager young woman who wants nothing more than to join the fight and keep her family and planet safe. Through a set of challenges meant to prove she’s worthy of becoming the heir to the throne, Leia learns that not everything is as it seems and sometimes the most effective way to rebel is through careful and discreet methods.
In Leia, Claudia continues to demonstrate how great of a storyteller she is through her clear, concise descriptions, witty dialogue, and vivid characterizations. While some characters are more familiar than others, each and every one of them is clearly defined and given a role to play, no matter how small or large. One of my favorite characters from The Last Jedi is Admiral Holdo, and I was so excited to see how she and Leia became friends in this book. Characters aside, the worldbuilding is deftly handled and so are the various political machinations, both of which Claudia executes clearly and efficiently.
While the pacing is a little off at times, my main complaint is the wisdom and lessons Leia learns are almost entirely told to her by her peers and family, and she rarely comes to these enlightenments on her own. Some of this can be chalked up to her being a teenager, but for the most part, it discredits her as a smart and savvy young woman, and makes her feel more like a puppet.
Overall, though, Leia, Princess of Alderaan is a fun and vivid story that is both familiar and new all at once. There are subtle hints and introductions to many elements seen in The Last Jedi, so if you’re looking for a bit more context for the film, definitely pick up this book! I look forward to reading Claudia’s other Star Wars novels, and may the Force be with Leia, always.