What makes a good leader? What qualities does a leader possess, and how do they get them? Leia Princess of Alderaan is more than a story, it is a background of how a princess became a leader.
Leia Princess of Alderaan is much more than a young Leia story. This novel lays the background, the foundation for what the galaxy’s most beloved princess was to become. Is the book good? Yes. Entertaining? Yes. And more. Let’s deep dive into how author Claudia Gray expertly makes Princess Leia Organa the bad ass leader of the Rebellion.
Leia Princess of Alderaan
by Claudia Gray
The main storyline of Leia Princess of Alderaan focuses on Leia facing three challenges to become the rightful heir to the throne of Alderaan. She must face challenges of the Heart, Mind, and Body. Through each of these challenges she faces tests of endurance, will, and emotion. Three main subjects are apparent in what will transform Leia from whining teenager to strong, smart leader: her parents, the Empire, and her friends.
Leia Princess of Alderaan is the book for any Leia fans. Claudia Gray details Leia’s past in an exciting story with both new and familiar characters. This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in Alderaan, the Organa family, or how Leia developed into the strong fighter she eventually became.
Narrative and Style
Leia Princess of Alderaan is told from Leia’s point of view. Readers get to experience her actions and thoughts. The reader feels as if the action is taking place around them, Gray is highly descriptive and uses Leia’s feelings to describe scenes with great emotion. The book is told from a “present” tense, as if the actions are happening to Leia right then and there. For example, when Leia meets Grand Moff Tarkin face to face, the energy and fright Leia feels is palpable to the reader.
Because of the depth of and full descriptions of Leia’s emotions and thoughts throughout the book, the reader is almost brought into the story, as if they are Leia themselves. This style of writing relays the experiences, difficulties, and duties set upon a young woman, and how she overcame and learned from them to grow into the commander of the Rebellion.
Bail and Breha
Sixteen year old Leia Organa is preparing to face her Day of Demand, when she will announce her plans for her Challenges of Body, Mind, and Heart. As a princess she hasn’t had to face the tough realities facing many worlds during the start of the Empire. But that is about to change.
As any sixteen year old usually does, Leia starts to feel a divide between herself and her parents, Bail and Breha Organa. Leia complains (to herself mostly) about how they don’t spend as much time with her as they used to, they are too busy with dinner parties and politics. Low and behold, with some digging Leia finds they are not merely royal dinner parties, and her father’s absences are not all for Senate issues. From sheer curiosity Leia discovers her parents are actually deeply involved in a fledgling rebellion against Emperor Palpatine.
Here is where Leia begins to build her basis on who, and when, to trust anyone, especially when it comes to the Rebellion. Leia takes on her own humanitarian missions, not only to help those in need, but also to find what her parents are involved in. As a teenager would, Leia feels her parents do not trust her with the details of their collaboration in forming a rebellion against the Empire. She takes it upon herself, not trusting her parents, to get herself involved, to show them what she can do. But after an attack on Naboo’s moon, Leia realizes she may be in over her head. After the scare of almost losing Leia, Breha and Bail bring her into the fold; they slowly inform her about their ultimate mission, and who to trust. Here Leia begins to understand why it is important to filter truths, and how to determine who is trustworthy. Because of Saw Gerrara’s agent, Leia was almost killed. And because of the dangerous tactics of his faction, who were not trusted by Bail and Breha, the Rebellion was almost stopped before it began.
With trust comes responsibility. Leia learns this lesson the hard way (through the attack on the moon, through her humanitarian effort on Wobani, and through her disastrous trip to Crait, where she stumbled upon a Rebel base). Had Leia stopped and trusted her parents, she would not have felt guilty for the outcomes of her travels. Leia takes this lesson to heart. As an eventual leader of the Rebellion, Leia does not make battle plans lightly. She fully considers her options (such as in Episode IV, where she lists remote Dantoonie as the Rebel base in order to save the more populated Alderaan). She takes personal responsibility for getting Han back from Jabba the Hutt. She fights on the side with the native Ewoks on Endor. When Leia ultimately trusts in a cause, or person, she takes responsibly for any actions that create harm or danger to that cause. This is what makes her a great leader.
Tarkin and the Empire
“Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader’s leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.” – Princess Leia, A New Hope
Never was this statement made more true than in Leia Princess of Alderaan. During one of Leia’s Apprentice Legislature sessions, she comes face to face with Tarkin’s supreme powers of manipulation. He, and the Empire, manage to make sure the teenage apprentice senators choose a specific world (Arreyel) to start a new school on. Leia helped direct the apprentice students to select the world, which in her mind and in the student arguments would help the world financially and economically. But behind the scenes Tarkin and Palpatine made is so Arreyel was the only logical choice for the students. The Empire only wanted the world for it’s natural resources. Leia discovered this and was crushed. Her good deed was not as it seemed; she and the other students were fully manipulated by the Empire.
When Tarkin surprises her family during one of the rebellion planning secret dinner parties, Leia gets first hand experience on how clever Tarkin really is. Tarkin easily dominates the conversation, and steers it to his advantage. He knows the questions to ask, and can pry much from very little. Leia begins to see the manipulation the man can wield, how he can strike fear into even the strongest among the Rebellion leaders. Here is where Leia gains a sense of caution when it comes to the Empire. There is always more than it seems to their plans.
During the final meeting of Leia and Tarkin, when she is called into his office, Leia fully understands how powerful the man, and the Empire, are. Leia could see how Tarkin read her voice, facial features, and reactions. The man is evil, and Leia can see it.
Leia takes these experiences and learns from them. She knows to use caution when dealing with the Empire, but to also use her knowledge of how they work to her advantage. For example, Leia gets a mere glimpse of the way the Empire manipulates people, worlds, and governments in this book. She will use her insights well in the future as a leader of the Rebellion, and as the founder of the Resistance against the First Order.
Through her challenges, Leia learns to be a teenager, not just a princess. She makes friends with her pathfinding group, and finally learns to have fun. She also learns how to trust her instincts when making friends. She becomes friends with a whimsical girl named Amilyn Holdo (who really is the Luna Lovegood of the Star Wars universe now). At first Leia really feels this girl is air-headed and a bit odd. But this judgement will prove incorrect, and Leia is wise to learn a lesson not to judge others too harshly. As the friendship between Leia and Amilyn developes, Leia learns Amilyn is wise and thoughtful in her own way, a way that teaches Leia to listen–that sometimes more can be gained from words than what is on the surface. This will prove to be a lifetime friendship–Laura Dern is set to play Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Leia also finds her first love, Kier Domadi. She slowly trusts him with bits of information on the rebellion, and her parents’ involvement. This relationship will solidify Leia’s hate of the Empire. As Leia finds out the Empire knows of the Rebellion’s secret fleet, she rushes there to warn the fleet and her father. Kier, concerned for her safety, follows her. As the last of the fleet escapes, Kier arrives. Then the space docking stations blow up, and Kier is caught in the aftermath. He does not survive. Kier’s life is forfeit because of the Empire, because they were set to squash the Rebellion.
Throughout the pathfinding missions, Leia constantly puts the well-being of her fellow students ahead of herself. She helps get medical attention for Harp Allor, she rescues Kier from falling on a climb, and she pushes Harp to Chassellon to get her out of the way of a mudslide. In making friends, and relying on others as well, Leia forms a sense of compassion, a deeper connection to others that perhaps she had been missing. This trait, this compassion for others, becomes a calling card for Princess Leia. She led the evacuation of the Rebel base on Hoth after the Empire arrived, making sure everyone escaped. She planned a rescue mission to save Han, her friend and love. Her ultimate mission throughout the Star Wars universe has always been to see the galaxy free from the Empire’s might. Leia will stop at nothing to gain justice for those under the Empire’s thumb.
Leia Princess of Alderaan really outlines and shapes the Princess Leia Organa all fans have come to know and love. Trust, love, compassion, resistance and resilience are built in Leia Princess of Alderaan. Leia’s journey starts as a princess, but continues to develop, to forge Leia into the strong leader she becomes.