Book Review: “Leia: Princess of Alderaan”

Even though she’s no longer physically with us, Carrie Fisher is one of my heroes. It’s her portrayal and stewardship for Leia Organa that has kept me in love with the world’s beloved Space Princess since the first time I watched A New Hope as a wee female nerd. There’s nothing I don’t love about Leia. She’s stubborn, witty, brilliant under pressure, and one of my favorite female characters ever written.

Leia: Princess of Alderaan takes everything I love about Leia and expands on it.{WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD}

Leia: Princess of Alderaan, written by Claudia Gray, is the story of how Leia Organa, hopeful heir of Alderaan, gets introduced to the rebellion she becomes the poster child for in Star Wars: A New Hope. In the novel, there’s family drama, budding friendships with beloved characters, political intrigue, and a love story that hurts in all the ways one would expect from the #1 space opera series.

Before I started reading the novel, I didn’t know I needed a teenage Leia. I thought perhaps I wouldn’t enjoying reading about her lonely childhood, her first love, or how she got interested in the politics of Palpatine’s Empire, but everything that happens in this book built upon–and explained– why Leia does what she does in the movies. What we don’t get to see in the films about Leia’s backstory on Alderaan, we get to read about in Leia: Princess of Alderaan.

Bail and Breda Organa were characters I liked to see in the prequels (and now Rogue One as well) but I never understood their backstory. Gray’s Leia story gives us the reasoning behind their need to adopt a child (Breha’s injury), why they chose to start the rebellion (because Palpatine is sith-scum) and just how far they were willing to go to protect their daughter from her dark ancestry.

Gray does an amazing job of depicting Leia’s love for her parents, while also skirting around the fact that we all know they will both die–along with all of Adleraan–about two years after this book ends. It’s bittersweet to read about how Breha and Bail tried to prepare their daughter for the fight to come, only to die themselves because of how strong Leia became.

In between the scheming and plotting, we also get an introduction to a beloved character from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Amilyn Holdo (beautifully portrayed by Laura Dern in the film). I had to set the book down as soon as I read Holdo’s name on page 53. I know what her future holds and to find out she was one of Leia’s first true friends breaks my heart. I was sort of confused by her characterization in the novel at first, she is very ‘spacey’ in a way only a teen girl can be and having to read through that was one of the least pleasant parts of the book, but it made sense once she started playing an actual role in the story.

That’s what this book does best. It gives us a background for Leia’s life pre-rebellion, as well as set up characters and story lines for the future movies so seamlessly that your heart breaks with each peek we get.

Leia: Princess of Alderaan makes me hopeful for the future of Star Wars canon books. Normally, such backstories for important characters or settings might annoy me. But each nod we get towards other worlds (Naboo, Craig, etc) just made me smile like a mad-woman.

Speaking of Naboo, I appreciated that Leia didn’t learn about her parentage in this book. It would have made sense for her to possibly learn about Padmé, but I feel it would have derailed some of the main story line for the original Star Wars trilogy if she knew who her mother was.

As is confirmed in this novel, Leia is not stupid. She is willing to do whatever’s necessary to uncover the truth. I feel if she had known Padmé Amidala was her mother, she would have found the connection to Anakin Skywalker, then Vader. Though, the wink we get towards Padmé might feel forced to those who don’t love the pre-quels like I do, it made me proud of Leia when Moff Panaka (you might recognize that name as one of the Captains who used to protect a certain senator of Naboo) saw the resemblance between Padmé and Leia.

It made me ridiculously happy to even have an inkling of Padmé’s legacy hinted to in the Star Wars Universe. She is one of my favorite characters and because of a bunch of butt-hurt fanboys, she is always pushed to the back when she should be immortalized in blazing colors in every movie–just like Vader, because without Padmé there would be no Luke or Leia.

The only part of the book that I found I didn’t enjoy was the erratic pacing. From the start of the book we know where the end will take us (to the summit of Appenza Peak), but I wasn’t sure how we were going to get there–or if we ever were because the rebellion is such a more interesting plot point–and that took me out of the story. The endings to every other major story line felt clean and worthy of the journey (the first love, apprentice legislator, and the start of the rebellion). It was just that last bit, where she becomes heir, that felt rushed.

I was surprised to find myself enjoying the romance subplot–especially how it ended. More often than not in YA, romance feels like a fate-has-brought-us-together situation, and while we get parts of that with the Alderaanian hair custom that comes out of nowhere, the relationship between Leia and Kier was otherwise fine. I knew it wouldn’t last so it didn’t bother me. It felt true to Leia that she would have had relationships before Han, because of her confidence and overall charisma, but to actually see how it unfolded on the page gave further insight into why she fought her affections towards Han for so long.

My absolute favorite part of this book was that we got sparks of Leia’s force sensitive nature during her pathfinding class, and in her humanitarian efforts throughout the galaxy. I have always been a firm believer that someone needed to give Leia a lightsaber in the original trilogy (and in the sequels) and while we don’t get anything like that, the small instances of Leia being able to do things others couldn’t or handle extreme situations because of a ‘calming presence’ was enough. Just to see that she too could have been the Jedi savior was enough for me.

I can’t stop gushing about this book. While it isn’t perfect, Gray wrote Leia so well that any faults I found didn’t matter. What I really appreciated about the story, was that Leia was allowed to be both a burgeoning leader, and a teenager sobered by her ascent into adulthood. Leia’s loneliness and brief spats of insecurity really resonated with me. Fingers crossed we get to see more of this Leia, or any Leia; basically, Leia Organa forever.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Recommendation: if you love Princess Leia and don’t mind a bit of teenage angst, then this book is perfect for you.

Hey there, Internet friends and strangers. Remember how I used to write book reviews? Yeah, me neither.

Have you read Leia: Princess of Alderaan? What did you think? Did Gray nail Leia Organa? Let me know you thoughts below!

Also, if you have any recommendations for books I should read and review next please let me know (either here or on Twitter or Instagram).

I’ve really been wanting to jump back into writing about my other favorite things (besides my travels) on this blog. Hopefully, you enjoyed this review as much as a post on Irish castles. If you didn’t, don’t worry, there will be another travel post next week! A girls gotta expand her portfolio.

Thanks For Reading!

2 Comments on “Book Review: “Leia: Princess of Alderaan”

  1. I didn’t know there was any Star Wars books! I can’t say I’d be interested in them all, but I LOVE Princess Leia; she’s a fucking icon and Carrie Fisher was a blessing we didn’t deserve tbh. This books sounds great 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh gosh, there are TONS of Star Wars books. Most of them are classified as “Legends” now, but Disney has contracted some authors to write new books that go with the timeline of all the movies and this is the only I’ve read. I’m not sure I’ll read any others. Leia was about the only character I cared to learn more about her backstory. Carrie Fisher was a blessing. If you haven’t read any of her books (fiction or memoirs) you should do so ASAP. Thanks for commenting!! 😊😍


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: