Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray is a YA Star Wars novel that focuses on a teenage Princess Leia. It is set between the time after Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Leia is the adopted daughter of Queen Breha and Viceroy Bail Organa of Alderaan. While Breha rules over the planet, Bail does his work in the Imperial Senate. Loved by both parents, she grows up knowing that she will one day become Queen of Alderaan.
This book explores the questions of what makes a leader, what makes a rebel, and if open conflict can truly be avoided.
Leia, Princess of Alderaan Review
In the very beginning of Princess of Alderaan, Leia undergoes her Day of Demand. This is the day where she announces to the planet of Alderaan that she intends to claim the throne as Crown Princess. In order to claim the throne, she must under go challenges of the mind, body, and heart.
She lays out her plan to achieve these goals with single minded determinedness. To Leia, she has already given her life to the good of her people. She now needs to prove her worthiness, which she thinks is going to be straightforward and rather easy.
Leia chooses providing aid to struggling planets for the Challenge of the Heart. For Challenge of the Body, she chooses to climb a mountain on Alderaan. Lastly, she joins the Apprentice Legislators for the Challenge of the Mind.
Through these challenges, Leia begins to learn that nothing is as simple as she once thought. There are now serious ramifications for her actions. This is a lesson that devastates her.
Leia grew up in a home where both parents adored her, and treated her like an equal. Bail now spends all of his time working in the Senate. Breha stays in her study, planning social gatherings. Leia is often alone, and schemes of ways to win back her parent’s affection.
She investigates her parents’ documents, and discovers unusual activity around the planet Crait. It is on Crait that she discovers that not only is there a rebel base, but her father is the leader.
Leia is a very strong character, with an even stronger moral compass. For her, every problem must have a solution. This results in her sometimes not seeing the greater picture.
Leia is also under the impression that right and wrong are as simple as black and white. She gradually learns that morals are more of a grey area. While horrified by the idea that rebelling against the Galactic Empire will bring violence and death, Leia gradually learns that it might not be possible to avoid.
The other lesson that Leia must learn is that she must also make time for herself. This comes up frequently. She struggles with with idea that she is allowed to be happy, even while knowing there is injustice around her.
What I Liked
I have to start by saying that I have such a fan girl crush on Princess Leia.
I grew up in a house full of boys, and my father would have Star Wars on every time it was on cable. Leia was the first female lead that exposed me to the idea that you can be a princess and still keep up with the boys.
Historically, has kept a level head in most situations, even if chaos surrounded her. Eventually she became General Organa, and that made me love her even more.
It always seemed profound that the princess that needed rescuing grew to become the driving force behind the rebellion.
Leia’s portrayal in Princess of Alderaan did not disappoint. She clings to her ideal to “learn more, do more, be more” throughout the entire book. Somewhere along the line, though, she begins to learn that in order to be the person that she hopes to become she is going to fall.
The other principle characters in this book were written extremely well. They were relatable and not two-dimensional. Everyone had their own crisis of conscience.
Bail struggles throughout Princess of Alderaan with the thought that he will eventually not be able to protect his daughter. Leia’s love interest, Kier, hates the Empire vehemently, but fears that rebellion will destroy Alderaan. Breha hates disagreeing with her husband, but knows that violence can no longer be avoided.
There was some foreshadowing; which was fun. The droids C3PO and R2D2 are introduced. Amilyn Holdo becomes Leia’s friend, and future comrade (This is the same Holdo that we meet in The Last Jedi). Leia’s mother also wishes that Leia would date a “scoundrel.”
What I Disliked
If you are a Star Wars novice, this is not the book for you.
In fact, you might want to watch most of the movies to get a clear picture of what is going on. There is almost no world building.
More than a few things are left unexplained. For instance: How the Galactic Empire came to be, what the Clone Wars were, and what the allusions about Leia’s biological parentage implied.
Growing up with Star Wars, and having a husband who is a Star Wars nerd gave me enough knowledge to understand Leia, Princess of Alderaan. Yet it still wasn’t enough. I often found myself Googling locations and characters so that I could better understand what was going on.
If you are a Star Wars fan, this book is right up your alley. It is an excellent bridge between Episodes III and IV. But the book seriously limits the audience that it could reach by assuming everyone reading it is an expert in Star Wars canon.
I still loved this book. It is a great addition to the saga with well written characters, a moral driven plot, and vivid description of a tyrannical society on the brink of war.
Looking for more great reviews?
Check out our review of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.