Ascent and Acceptance: Family Dynamics in Leia: Princess of Alderaan

Claudia Gray’s newest Star Wars offering: Leia: Princess of Alderaan opens on Leia Organa’s sixteenth Name Day. With the Rhindon Sword in her hand, she approaches the throne and declares her intention to assume the throne. This is the ceremony that has been performed by Alderaan’s monarchs for millennia. She pledges to take on challenges of the body, mind, and heart to prove her fitness as a ruler to the sitting sovereign.

But for teenage Leia Organa, fitness to rule is hardly a concern. For Leia, the ceremony and its attendant challenges are a chance to grow closer to her parents—from whom she never meant to become distant. Her humanitarian work, first term in the Apprentice Legislature, and plans for the ascent of Appenza Peak are much more in the service of her personal agenda than any royal one. Continue reading

Review: Leia: Princess of Alderaan

Rebellions are built on lies.

These are words that ring opposite what Cassian told Jyn in Rogue One but are no less true. Rebellions are built on hope and on lies but perhaps not in the way that you might expect.

Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray takes us back to the princess’s earlier years on Alderaan before there was ever a Death Star in its orbit, poised to destroy the lives of millions of people. At age sixteen, Leia Organa must, by Alderaan custom, have her Day of Demand and then complete her Challenges of Body, Mind, and Heart before she is officially recognized as heir to the crown of Alderaan. While the challenges are worthy ones, they lead Leia down a path she didn’t entirely expect as she discovers the truth about her parents. (No, not that truth.) Continue reading

Princess Leia: Royal Rebel

royal_rebel_coverToday I spent my morning with Princess Leia: Royal Rebel, part of the Scholastic Star Wars Backstories series. Aimed at fans in grades 3-7, it was a quick read: only 128 pages including a glossary and index, and many of those filled with captioned illustrations. Although imperfect in some aspects, it was a cute book and worth the little time it took to devour it.

The book is presented as an in-universe biography of the famous Princess and General and includes an illustrated section on her most famous “friends, family, and foes.” The in-universe timeline for the book is interesting, in that it mentions the events of The Force Awakens, therefore presuming that the key events of the film (the destruction of Hosnian Prime, the death of Han Solo, the discovery of Rey and her Force-sensitive nature) have already occurred. Knowing what we do about Episode VIII following so quickly on the heels of The Force Awakens, it took a little fudging in the suspension of disbelief department for me to get past that.

The introduction is done in first-person by General Leia Organa herself and dovetails nicely onto events in Moving Target–wherein an archival droid is pestering her for a memoir. “I’d much rather be doing things than talking about things I’ve already done,” Leia bemoans in the opening paragraph. And the General’s reticence on matters of her life comes in handy later in the volume.

The body of the book itself is basically a Leia-centric retelling of everything we know about Star Wars. With an at-a-glance chronology that begins with Padme and Anakin meeting, we get a summary walk through the saga focusing on where Leia was and what she was up to at any given time (including her appearances in Moving Target, the Princess Leia comic books, and Star Wars Rebels). There are notable gaps in information available about the years between events of Return of The Jedi and The Force Awakens. “These records,” the imaginary biographer posits, “may have been lost when the First Order destroyed the system of Hosnian Prime.” It is also alluded to that perhaps little is known because after the war the Princess kept her private life…well…private. It’s a useful device for allowing this book to bridge the gap in the saga without giving anything away.

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Just a Legacy to Protect

general leia organaWarning: This column involves spoilers for Star Wars: Bloodline

While aptly named, Star Wars: Bloodline could have just as easily been titled Star Wars: Legacy because when it comes to both of those, Leia Organa has more than enough on her shoulders. One she embraces and one she tries to ignore. After all, if your father was Darth Vader, wouldn’t you try and forget that too? Unfortunately, nothing stays buried. As Leia and Ransolm team up to get to the bottom of the ever-deepening mystery of Rinnrivin’s cartel, Leia is forced to confront the legacies of her fathers whether she wants to or not. Continue reading

Review: Star Wars: Bloodline

SW_Bloodline_coverIt’s difficult and I mean reeeeeally difficult to impartially review a book that feels like it was written specifically for you. It’s hardly a secret that I’m the token politics nerd and Alderaan die hard around here. There are only two things that this book could have possibly done to make me love it even more. The first would have been bringing Winter back into canon and the other gets us into spoiler territory. (The third would be bringing Padmé Amidala back from the dead but that seems highly unlikely in any scenario. This is Star Wars, not comics.) All this is to say that Bloodline by Claudia Gray felt tailor made for me and the two and a half hours I spent reading it were one hell of an emotional roller coaster.

Set in the years before The Force Awakens, Bloodline tells the story of Leia before the galaxy comes crashing down around her a second time. The New Republic is well established at this point and two distinct political parties have formed in the Senate. Senator Leia Organa, however, is kind of over all of it. The time is starting to feel right for her to retire and go spend more time with her family but first… one last mission shouldn’t cause too much trouble, right?  Continue reading

Baltimore Comic Con 2015: Interview with Mark Waid

Leia_Dodson1Given what a fan I am of Mark Waid’s Marvel work, briefly chatting with him about his work on the Princess Leia series was one of the highlights of my Baltimore Comic Con this year. I loved the heck out of those five issues and was excited to have the chance to ask him all the questions the book left me with and to talk Star Wars in general.  And hey!  It’s not every day that you get to interview someone who just won the Harvey for Best Writer the night before.

Bria: The first question we always ask everyone is how did you become a Star Wars fan?

Mark Waid: I’m old enough to say I was there on opening day. I was there… all right, I have a story. This is a horrible, horrible story that makes me look like an idiot. So… it’s not true. I was not there on opening day. My friends and I got together that weekend and there were six or seven of us and we were having the same argument that you always have when you get six or seven people together on a Saturday night in a car with no direction. They go “Okay, we need to see a movie.” Okay, well there’s a couple of movies opening up this weekend. What do we see? Everyone wanted to see this one movie and I fought really hard to see this other movie because I said, “Look, this is going to be amazing. It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to change your life.” So because I fought for it, we went to see… You Light Up My Life. And I never lived it down. The next weekend, we all saw Star Wars and they were all like, “You idiot! What is wrong with you?” Then that was it. Like everyone else, I saw it a dozen times that summer and it was amazing.

Which is your favorite film?

The second one by far. It just… to manage to take all the stuff that made the first one cool and then add some gravitas was really awesome.

Favorite character? (I know that’s a hard one.)

It is a hard one! I really do think it is Leia.

Mine too! So did you pitch Marvel to do Star Wars? From what I hear, everyone and their mother were calling the editors and saying “I really want to write it!” or did they come to you?

They actually came to me and they said, “We want a Princess Leia series. Are you interested?” While I love the character, I didn’t have a story. I didn’t know where we wanted to go with it and I was on the verge of saying, “Look I appreciate this but this is not for me.” And then I started thinking about… if you let me do it the day after A New Hope ends; if you let me do it the day after and you get a chance to really delve into what it’s like for her to have lost everything? Then I’m in and they totally bought that. That’s really where it stood; the idea that in first movie, there’s no time for it to sink in for her. Continue reading

Review: Moving Target

There’s very little I love more in this world than a well-written Leia Organa story and Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry have definitely delivered with their contribution to the Journey to the Force Awakens: Moving Targets. It’s a middle grade book which means the writing style is a bit more simplistic but that certainly doesn’t take away from the impact of the story nor from how much I enjoyed reading it.

Worrying reports have reached the Rebel Alliance of the construction of a second Death Star… something that absolutely no one wants to see in the hands of the Emperor. The Rebel Alliance must strike back but they’ll need time. Princess Leia volunteers to lead a decoy mission and serve as a distraction… a moving target if you will.

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Tsar Wars: Return of the Alderaanians

Welcome to the final part of our royal team up with Eleven Thirty-Eight.  Jay and I have already discussed monarchy as a whole, Naboo, Hapes, and now it’s time for Alderaan.

Bria: I’d like to start by blaming YOU AND YOUR EMPIRE FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF A PEACEFUL PLANET, YOU JERK.

Jay: it’s not my fault! It’s not my fault. It was all Tarkin’s doing. Seriously, if you don’t believe me, check out the old Radio Drama — Vader told Tarkin not to destroy Alderaan and basically said the Emperor wouldn’t approve, and Tarkin did it anyway. I’m super curious to see if Alex Bracken will use that part of the audio drama in The Princess, the Smuggler, and the Farm Boy because I *NEED* it to still be canon, otherwise I will hate myself.

Bria: She probably won’t just to spite you.  Yes, specifically you.

Jay: Considering how many people enjoy specifically spiting me, it wouldn’t surprise me. But I have hope yet, she’s a nice person. :p If not, well, um…. are you guys taking defectors or do I have to wait for the fall session?

Bria: We’ll look into seeing if we can arranging you non-explosive transportation.  Before it was so rudely and cruelly blown up, Alderaan actually seems to have had one of the more traditional monarchies in the Star Wars universe; at least in Earth terms.

Jay: Traditional, if confusing as heck. Under the EU, the Organas were the royal family of Alderaan. Bail Organa was the viceroy (which… doesn’t make any sense, as a viceroy is a monarch’s representative but words don’t mean anything in space I guess) and so his adopted daughter Leia was the Princess of Alderaan. Breha, who wasn’t Breha yet, was the Minister of Education. Until ROTS, when it turned out that *she* was the Queen of Alderaan and Bail was prince consort. Luckily for us, the EU already had the “Alderaanian Ascendency Contention” from the Zahn books and… Bria, this is getting complicated, isn’t it? Continue reading

Review: Princess Leia #3

Leia and Evaan have found some Alderaanians and are now off to Sullust in search of more, unaware of the traitor in their midst. Princess Leia #3 by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson is out today in comic stores and continues to live up to the high standards of the previous issues. Naboo may not have gone completely according to plan but Sullust… Sullust is really not what Leia expected. The Alderaanian Enclave there is lead by a woman who calls herself Preserver Jora Astane and she is really not a fan of the Princess.

There are some mild spoilers in this review.

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Why Alderaan Needs To Be In Rebels

Or to title this piece more accurately: Why Alderaan, Queen Breha, Leia Organa, and Winter Need To Be In Rebels Too And Bail Organa Needs To Be In It More

Bail Organa in Star Wars Rebels

Bail Organa in Star Wars Rebels

As the fandom well knows by now, the second episode of Star Wars Rebels ended with a cameo from the one and only Bail Organa, Senator and Prince Consort of Alderaan. This was definitely a great sign for both fans who want to see existing film characters make it into the new show and for fans who want to see other parts of the fledgling rebellion. But hey! Why stop there? We need tons more of Alderaan and the characters who hail from that beautiful planet. Why? I’m so glad you asked.

It gives viewers and fans a sense of familiarity
While we’ve only actually had the chance to visit Alderaan on the screen very briefly, it’s been one of the Star Wars planets that we’ve known the longest. Likewise, Princess Leia was one of the first characters that we met back in 1977 and she’s one of those characters that fans still love passionately to this day. Visiting Alderaan and seeing a young teenage Princess Leia would be an easy way for Rebels to make the show feel even more familiar to fans. After all, what sort of character could be more Star Wars than a Skywalker?

It’s a chance to recanonize some aspects of the Expanded Universe
As of the now, the Queen of Alderaan doesn’t actually have a canon name.* She wasn’t named in either the film or novelization of Revenge of the Sith and didn’t appear in the Clone Wars. If she were to appear in Rebels and be officially named Queen Breha, that would be fantastic. After all, it’s hard to run a planet and probably secretly fund a rebellion when you don’t have a name.

*This was discussed amongst the blogosphere on Twitter several months ago. If we missed something, please let me know.

More than just names could be recanonized though. Having a young white-haired girl standing by Leia’s side in Rebels would go a long way towards making Expanded Universe fans hopeful about seeing some of their favorite characters again. Winter’s backstory was already retconned to fit with the prequels and most of her story comes from beyond the Original Trilogy which means writers wouldn’t have much trouble making it work. Quite frankly, she’s a pretty useful person to have around. Most people wouldn’t give a 14 year old girl a second look much less suspect her of silently remembering everything that she says and hears. Basically she’s the perfect person to have involved in a rebellion. Also she’s one of my favorite characters so pleeeeeeease bring her back.

Finally, there are opportunities outside of the Royal family for recanonizing aspects of the Expanded Universe. I suspect that no one would loudly object if there were a sly mention of Novacom… And if the showrunners want to make Sabé going to Alderaan and tutoring Leia more than just a Legend, I certainly won’t object. Continue reading