Star Wars: The Force Awakens left us with a lot of burning questions. Who is Snoke? Is Rey related to the Skywalkers? And how did Princess Leia become a general? We might have to wait a while to get answers to those first two questions, but a new Star Wars book coming this summer intends to answer the last one.
Before Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, the world of Star Wars had been fleshed out by dozens of Expanded Universe (EU) books, comics, and video games. This material had its inconsistencies, however, and Lucasfilm's new handlers made the decision to throw out the EU as non-canonical. It wasn't an outright ban, because new "[c]reators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe," but they weren't shackled to the EU, anymore.
Fans have already noted many of the differences between the pre-Disney, post-Return of the Jedi story and The Force Awakens. In the EU, Han and Leia's eldest son, Jacen, turns to the Dark Side after being trained by Luke, who has a son named Ben. No, I'm not kidding.
In those same books, Leia was a senator, just like her adoptive parents and birth mother before her. She had some Jedi training, built her own lightsaber, and even hunted down Jacen after he turned to the Sith. That's at least part of the reason why everyone is wondering how Princess Leia became a general: because she wasn't one before.
Today, only the seven Star Wars films, two most recent animated series, and any books, comics, and video games published after April 2014 are considered part of the canon. So far, we haven't seen any Jedi powers from Leia, aside from her legendary Force empathy, and we may never see Leia pick up a lightsaber in the new canon.
Given Leia's history with the Rebellion, it's entirely possible that her followers would view her as a stronger and more credible leader if she remained in the thick of the military. As CINEMABLEND observes, "it’s unlikely Leia would have been able to work with the Resistance and train [as a Jedi] at the same time. ... It’s hard to see her leaving [the fight against the Empire] to others."
When IGN asked J.J. Abrams why Leia didn't become a Jedi, he said: "it was simply a choice that she made, that her decision to run the Rebellion, and ultimately this Resistance, and consider herself a General, as opposed to a Jedi. It was simply a choice that she took."
And, you know what? That's OK with me. If Leia would rather be a General than a Jedi, I'm OK with that. Feminism is all about having the choice to do what you want with your life, after all. And there's no denying that General Leia has been successful in her career as a Rebellion leader.
Star Wars: Bloodline is author Claudia Gray's follow-up to Chuck Wendig's September 2015 bestseller, Star Wars: Aftermath. When the novel opens, Leia is a senator in the New Republic. Vader has fallen, and the former Empire is no longer at war. But a new generation raised in this peaceful utopia haven't learned well enough to prevent history from repeating itself, and Leia must return to her Resistance roots as the New Republic faces its first real threats, one of which is a junior senator who romanticizes the Empire's reign and policies.
According to USA Today, Bloodline focuses heavily on Leia's family. Quoting author Gray, the newspaper reports:
[family] plays a key role in one of the book's most significant events, "one that has pretty far-reaching repercussions for several characters," Gray says. "However, this novel isn't fundamentally about Leia as a wife, sister or mom; this is about the role she's created for herself since the fall of the Empire, and the one she takes up by the time of (The Force Awakens)."
Does this mean we'll see Leia trying to find a work-life balance and have it all? I don't know about you, but I'd pay to read a novel where one of my icons deals with the same struggles I face, IN SPACE.
You can preorder Star Wars: Bloodline from your favorite retailer today. Find out how Princess Leia became a general on May 3, 2016.
Images: Lucasfilm; Giphy (3)