Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudi Gray

 

Claudia Gray has quickly become one of the best authors of the Star Wars universe, new or old canon. Lost Stars was excellent, Bloodline is nearly as good. Gray wraps the story in action scenes, political intrigue, and exploration of new worlds and relationships. Gray has a real knack for making relationships in her stories stand out. As well written as Bloodline is, January LaVoy narrates it perhaps even better.

Princess Leia, now in her late 40’s, and a senator of the New Republic faces threats from within and from external threats as well. The book takes place six years prior to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  A large part of the story is composed of the political battle that Leia engages in to stop the Senate from electing a First Senator who may become the next Darth Vader. While this may seem boring to some but Gray manages to keep it interesting with the varying relationships involved.

Like every Star Wars story there is no lack of adventure and traveling the galaxy. We are introduced to new worlds and races of aliens that we don’t see too often. Gray also captures the essence of Leia very well in this book.  The time frame of the book fills in some information that will be interesting to those who read Lost Stars and seen Star Wars: Force Awakens.

As great as this book was, it’s not as good as Lost Stars. Bloodlines suffers a bit from predictability, relationships go the direction you think they will. There is a stereotypical “Deathstar” moment and there really wasn’t any point in the story where I was in doubt of the outcome. This is more than made up for by the excellent exploration of Leia’s bloodline and the new characters, particularly Ransolm Casterfo, were very good. I would love to Casterfo in a movie.

January LaVoy isn’t a narrator that I was familiar with before listening to this book but I am very impressed with her performance in Bloodline. One of the most important parts of a narrator’s job is to make distinct voices so you can follow the story easier and give the characters an added sense of realism. LaVoy’s voices were all excellent and distinct. LaVoy’s theatrical talents come out in Bloodlines, this book was more of a high-quality audio drama than just someone with a nice voice reading a book. I find it hard to believe she did the voice for Rinnrivin Di (excellent character), but if she did it was an amazing performance. LaVoy did male and female characters equally well and believable. The only character I didn’t care for was Joph Seastriker, he seemed like a little too much of a “dude bro” for my liking but this may be more to do with how the character was written. Overall, LaVoy will be considered an additional reason to listen to any audiobook she is on.

The production value of the book was also very high quality, very clear sound quality. There were some strange transitions between chapters but I think that may have to do with how the chapters were ended and started. I’m not a fan of random sound effects , in general, in audio books and Bloodlines has many, many of them. There were blasters sounds, ship sounds, music, ambient noise of various locations, crowds…ect. While I typically would consider sound effects an unwelcome addition in the amount that was present in Bloodlines because it is Star Wars it felt right and added to the story.

Overall, Bloodline continues the great quality of the new canon Star Wars books and is a must listen for those who enjoy Star Wars novels.

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