The Making of a Leader: Leia, Princess of Alderaan

I have fallen down hard into the expanded Star Wars universe, clearly. It started with the book of short stories From a Certain Point of View, which I previously reviewed, and has honestly just devolved from there. I’ve never been one for media tie-ins, the end of 2017 has been a weird one for me.

But hey, this book was awesome.

leiaLeia, Princess of Alderaan (2017)
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 416 pages (Hoopla)
Series: Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press

Why I Chose It: Claudia Gray had one of my favorite stories in the short story collection, “Master and Apprentice,” so I knew that Leia was in good hands. I’m also really curious about well-written backstory for these characters, as Disney threw out all the old canon backstory. I heard this one was essential reading before the new movie comes out, and I have to say, now that I’ve finished it and seen the new movie twice, I quite agree.

Premise:

Sixteen-year-old Princess Leia Organa faces the most challenging task of her life so far: proving herself in the areas of body, mind, and heart to be formally named heir to the throne of Alderaan. She’s taking rigorous survival courses, practicing politics, and spearheading relief missions to worlds under Imperial control. But Leia has worries beyond her claim to the crown. Her parents, Breha and Bail, aren’t acting like themselves lately; they are distant and preoccupied, seemingly more concerned with throwing dinner parties for their allies in the Senate than they are with their own daughter. Determined to uncover her parents’ secrets, Leia starts down an increasingly dangerous path that puts her right under the watchful eye of the Empire. And when Leia discovers what her parents and their allies are planning behind closed doors, she finds herself facing what seems like an impossible choice: dedicate herself to the people of Alderaan including the man she loves or to the galaxy at large, which is in desperate need of a rebel hero…

No plot spoilers for either the book or the movie ahead.


Discussion: I read this on hoopla and didn’t have the opportunity to highlight my favorite parts, so I’m almost at a loss for where to start this review except to say that I really, really enjoyed this book. It’s the classic coming of age for a woman we’ve already seen in her later stages of life. It’s also a little bit of a love story and not just the romantic kind, but also the familial kind, and the kind a true leader has to have for her people, and a rebel leader has for an ideal and a cause.

When we first meet Leia in Episode IV: A New Hope, she’s already part of the Rebellion. Sure she’s been captured by Darth Vader and watches as her home planet is destroyed, but she’s also sassy and capable, completely willing to make her own escape when given half the chance. She’s already come into her own.

When we meet Leia in this novel, she’s a somewhat impatient, impetuous, and at times sulky girl of sixteen. She doesn’t understand why her parents are pulling away from her, and she often acts rashly and makes snap decisions without contemplating consequences. Hardly ever for truly selfish reasons, but there’s definitely a sense of “well, I’ll show my parents” early on. Alderaan has a coming of age ceremony for new rulers where they have to undertake certain tasks of Heart, Mind, and Body. It’s through these tasks that she sees the true cruelty of the Empire and learns of her parents’ involvement in the Rebellion.

It’s where she meets her first love, but I’ll let the book tell you about that. And it’s also where she meets Amilyn Holdo, who will one day be the purple-haired admiral who knocks Poe Dameron down a few pegs.

Seeing Leia’s transformation from self-absorbed teenager to rebel leader was pretty awesome, but getting backstory for Holdo’s character was probably my favorite part of this book, especially since she plays such a big role in the new movie. It was nice to see who she had been to Leia, and how they’d influenced each other as young girls.

In conclusion: This is actually essential reading for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, especially if you like getting cool backstory for really cool ladies. Also I’d like to go ahead and hang on to General Princess Leia Organa for as long as humanly possible.

2 Comments

  • Shara White January 2, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    I also really, really enjoyed this one. Teenaged Leia is someone I would love reading more about, and there’s so much here that’s kind of heartbreaking, because we know what happens to Alderaan in a few years. I wish more books/movies had focused on Alderaan itself, so getting this book was more than welcome.

    Reply
    • Merrin January 2, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      I mean we scarcely knew Alderaan before it was sacrificed for the Rebellion, I’m really happy to get to know more about it, even though I know it ends in tragedy.

      Reply

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