Disney has done an outstanding job making money off of the Star Wars franchise over the last few years. Everyone knows about the sequel trilogy, featuring new exciting characters like Rey and Kylo Ren, but there is so much more, including Star Wars Rebels, a cartoon TV series that follows the early formation of the Rebellion in the years leading up to Star Wars: A New Hope. Marvel has also created several canonical comic series that fill in story gaps, too.
And, of course, there are the novels – all of which are canon, and many of which are truly excellent. That’s absolutely the case for the recent novel following Princess Leia’s life as a 16-year-old finding her place in the galaxy, just a handful of years before she’d find herself a prisoner aboard the Death Star. We took a dive into several interesting Star Wars tidbits that we learned from Claudia Gray’s recent canonical novel, Leia: Princess of Alderaan.
A Rogue One planet makes a cameo
We’re first introduced to Wobani early in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Jyn Erso is being held captive by the Empire, and is being moved to an Imperial labor camp. But just a handful of years prior, Wobani was a different place. It was a once-thriving planet, now crushed underneath the tyrannical regulations of Emperor Palpatine. The people of the planet were starving, and Leia’s first humanitarian mission was to bring food and supplies to their people.
On that mission, Leia finds that things are worse than she knew. Stormtroopers and Imperial officers are present, and many of the people are sick and without hope. Wanting to help the people of Wobani in any way she can, Leia devises a plan to get many of them off the planet and back to Alderaan. She had strict orders from the Empire that only crew of her ship, Tantive IV, would be allowed to land and take off. The way around it? Hiring people as crew.
In the end, Leia gets in some serious trouble with her parents for tricking an Imperial officer and violating an order. And for her effort, she actually wrecks work that her father, Bail Organa, was doing in the Imperial Senate to bring the people of Wobani relief.
Several clues about Alderaan’s fate
A large portion of the novel is 16-year-old Leia gradually coming to the realization that her parents, Bail and Queen Breha, are involved in a serious rebellion against Emperor Palpatine. At first, her parents try to keep her from the truth. They even shun her from discussions about what they’re planning when she finds out on her own. And that comes with good reason; should the Empire find out what they’re doing, the entire family would be put to death, including Leia.
On several occasions, Leia wonders what sort of risk Alderaan would face for her parents’ treason. In one specific conversation, Breha tells her daughter of her concerns about the minute the Empire learns of Alderaan’s role in the rebellion. This is all foreshadowing of A New Hope, when Leia is taken prisoner aboard the Death Star and is forced to watch as Grand Moff Tarkin uses the battle station to blow up her home planet, killing her parents and millions of others.
Leia gets to know a brand new character from The Last Jedi
As part of Leia’s promise to do three challenges to seize her place among the royal family — an Alderaan tradition — she joins a pathfinding class. It’s here that she meets several new young friends, including a fellow Alderaanian named Kier, who would become her very first boyfriend. But another character of note is Amilyn Holdo, an odd girl with weird hair colors from a planet named Gatalenta.
Although that name my not be too familiar with Star Wars fans just yet, Holdo will be played in Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Laura Dern of Jurassic Park fame. We don’t know a ton of information about Leia and Holdo in the movie, other than rumors that they represent two factions of the Resistance. They originally split when Holdo learned of Leia’s relation to Darth Vader and cast doubt on her ability to lead.
But in the novel, the two eventually develop a friendship. Although Leia does still find her quirky personality to rub her the wrong way, she appreciates Holdo’s honesty and the two end up on a handful of adventures together, all while learning more about the pending rebellion against the Empire.
Leia’s first meeting with Grand Moff Tarkin
As part of the Apprentice Legislature, a group of teens that were being groomed to one day serve in the Imperial Senate, Leia was privileged to meet several high-ranking people within the Empire. That includes Grand Moff Tarkin. We were lucky enough to get an explanation of their very first meeting, plus several other times that the two crossed paths.
During their first face-to-face meeting, Tarkin brought up Leia’s trickery on Wobani, and uttered a phrase that would again foreshadow the events of A New Hope.
You have a talent for finding weaknesses, Your Highness. And for exploiting them. That talent can work for you or against you. You’ll have to decide which.
The reference which Tarkin unknowingly makes is how Leia plays an integral role in the demolition of the Death Star, resulting in Tarkin’s death. She helped ensure safe arrival of the Death Star plans at the rebel base on Yavin IV, where they found the weakness that Galen Erso left for them.
Leia makes a trip to her mother’s home planet, and meets an old friend from the prequels
After the poorly executed plans on Wobani, Leia received a mandate from her father to make her future humanitarian missions to planets under less of a critical Imperial eye. So her choice? A small mining moon of the planet Naboo. Fans of the prequel films will remember Naboo as the home planet of two major characters in the franchise: Emperor Palpatine and Padme Amidala, the latter of whom is Leia’s birth mother (although, she doesn’t know that).
There is an interesting moment as Leia nears the planet on her ship and receives what she describes as an “unexpected pang.” While there, she ends up meeting the Queen of Naboo, and even putting on an old dress that likely was once worn by her own mother. She meets with Quarsh Panaka, the current governor of the Naboo system, and an old friend of Padme’s. The moment where he first sees Leia is enough to give you goosebumps.
Panaka’s gaze finally turned to Leia. He stopped short, eyes wide with shock. Although he managed to hold on to his cup, some of his tea splashed on the floor.
Panaka clearly recognized the resemblance between Leia and Padme, and was taken aback by it. The rest of their time spent together was marked by awkward conversation where Panaka pressed Leia for details of her parentage, clearly suspecting she was the child of his former friend.
The early Rebellion’s issues with Saw Gerrera
While Leia was on Naboo meeting with Panaka, she narrowly escapes danger. Panaka is assassinated shortly after she left his office, and she’s left to ponder whether her parents and the rebellion are to blame. After returning home and receiving the third-degree from her parents about what had happened, her mother let her in a bit more on their issues within the rebellion.
The bombing was the work of a group that calls themselves the partisans, led by a man named Saw Gerrera. He’s a brave man, an intelligent fighter … but his methods are becoming more violent, more extreme. Saw’s alienating some of the people your father and I most need on our side. I don’t know how we’re ever going to resolve it.
Saw was first seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, trained in guerilla combat by Anakin Skywalker of all people. He later appears in both Rebels and Rogue One, and Breha’s description of him is spot on. He causes the rebellion a myriad of issues due to his militant style, and it nearly gets Leia killed.
Sly references to Leia’s future with Han Solo
Although the novel focuses on Leia’s love, a dark-eyed teen named Kier, it wasn’t completely devoid of references to her future beau, Han Solo. When finally opening up to her mother about her feelings for Kier, she was astonished to find that her mother approved of her feelings — after all, she had been mostly locked up in the palace for the majority of her life to that point. However, Breha did share one little concern.
I suppose a tiny bit of me hoped that my daughter’s first romance wouldn’t be so … suitable. Sometimes it does a girl good to fall for a bit of a scoundrel, now and then.
Of course, the word scoundrel in relation to Star Wars is almost always a reference to the franchise’s most famous scoundrel, and Leia’s future baby-daddy.
Leia’s first time using the Force
During one of her pathfinding expeditions, Leia encounters problems with her partner and boyfriend, Kier. Coming upon a reasonably sized canyon, Kier’s protective forcefield was damaged on an unexpected fall. Attempting to climb up himself would almost certainly lead to another fall, and certain death. Leia, who had a working forcefield, swung down to rescue Kier but found that they were both in a difficult situation: How do they swing back across?
It was at this point that Leia experienced her first feelings through the Force, although she wasn’t aware of it afterward. She made an extremely long jump, causing Kier to ask her how she accomplished such a thing.
“That was one hell of a jump,” he finally said. “How did you do that?”
“I don’t know.” Already that odd spell that had fallen over her was broken. The strange vital energy that had so briefly sung to her had gone quiet again.
A very cool moment.
Leia encounters Rogue One villain, Director Orson Krennic
During yet another one of her pathfinding missions, Leia and Amilyn Holdo come across Senator Wimbrey Lenz speaking to an Imperial officer in secret. This is of particular interest to Leia, because she knows that Senator Lenz has some level of involvement in the rebellion with her parents. The fact that he was having a private meeting with an Imperial officer, well, it could not possibly be good news.
The officer that is described is wearing a white jacket, and Leia overhears them discussing Quadanium steel. It’s not specifically stated, but this lends to the notion that Lenz was meeting with Director Krennic from Rogue One, and that they were discussing steel that would be used on the construction of the Death Star. Just another little wink to the fans that are paying close attention.
The Millennium Falcon has a surprising cameo
Near the end of the novel, Leia is desperately seeking a transport to get her to her father to deliver an urgent message, one that could be life or death. She describes the problems that she hadn’t anticipated, mainly that most transports are weary of taking just a 16-year-old girl with no real cargo. At one moment, she even mentions attempting to chase down a YT-model freighter. We can’t possible know for sure, but this is almost certainly another Easter egg and a reference to the Millennium Falcon and her future flame, Han Solo.
Can you imagine if she had chased down the Falcon, meeting Solo just three years prior with his tall, furry companion inside their trademark ship? As it stands, it’s just one of many little cameos in the book. In fact, if there is a problem with Gray’s novel, it’s probably that it’s just a bit heavy on such items. Are we really to believe the galaxy is small enough that Leia would run into Krennic, the Falcon, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Quarsh Panaka within the manner of a few weeks? At any rate, the novel is still very good and gave us a great insight into Leia’s life on Alderaan and within the rebellion.
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