Book Club 9: Leia Princess Of Alderaan


Rachel: 00:06 I’m Rachel.

Sarah: 00:06 Hi, I’m Sarah.

Sarah: 00:07 And this is Unassigned Reading.

Rachel: 00:08 Where we discussed the books you’re never going to talk about in English class.

Sarah: 00:12 Right. YA, sci-fi, fantasy, and all the other genres you read for fun.

Rachel: 00:16 Obviously this is not a spoiler free podcast.

Sarah: 00:19 So many spoilers.

Rachel: 00:20 And happy Star Wars-mas.

Sarah: 00:22 Happy what now?

Rachel: 00:24 You know, Star Wars-mas that special time of year when we all set aside our differences to talk about our love of Star Wars and everything wrong with the prequel trilogy.

Sarah: 00:32 Oh right. Obviously I am familiar.

Rachel: 00:35 Except I’m kind of kidding the prequel trilogy thing. We still love it here.

Sarah: 00:39 Despite it’s flaws.

Rachel: 00:40 Of course. And for this very special Star Wars-mas episode we’re going to be discussing Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray.

Sarah: 00:48 All about one of our favorite Star Wars characters.

Rachel: 00:50 Of course, Carrie Fisher.

Sarah: 00:52 Uh, no, I was talking about Princess Leia.

Rachel: 00:55 I mean same difference. But since you seem to be so on top of things, I guess it’ll be no problem that it’s your turn to do our 60 second summary.

Sarah: 01:03 Uhhhhhhhhh.

Rachel: 01:05 It’s fine. You’ve got this and go.

Sarah: 01:08 Okay. Princess Leia. It starts with her day of demand, where she’s going to make all these things she’s going to do to become the queen of Alderaan and she says she’s going to do charity stuff and climb a mountain and join the apprentice legislature and, I’m doing so bad. So for her charity stuff, she’s going around trying to help planets the empire’s hurting and she makes some mistakes, like when she sort of helps some people, but it hurts the rest of the planet. Um, and now she does this, she starts figuring out that like maybe her parents are involved in a rebellion against the empire and in the apprentice Senate she’s finding that she like doesn’t really have any power at all to do anything and like accidentally make choices that hurt people also there. Um, and then also the other guy from Alderaan, his name is Keir and she kind of has a crush on him and they’re in a pathfinder class together, where they learn how to survive on different planets? Also, Holdo’s in the class?

Rachel: 02:08 Stop.

Sarah: 02:10 That was bad. That was a really bad one.

Rachel: 02:14 It wasn’t great. You kind of took a rambling route, which in fairness, this book is kind of rambling in like the way the plot goes.

Sarah: 02:22 There were like three things going on at once and it’s hard to talk about them because you’re sort of jumping between these three different things that are going on throughout the whole thing.

Rachel: 02:32 Yeah, right. Because like you said, she’s doing her day of demand thing where basically, um, it’s traditional on Alderaan that the heir has to declare themselves and then they have to undergo the challenges of body, mind, and heart. And so for the body challenge, she’s going to be climbing the Appenza peak on Alderaan, so she’s doing this pathfinder class, which is where she meets Keir and some of the other people in the apprentice legislature who are also doing this class, including Amilyn Holdo who we will talk about a little bit more because she’s an important character also in The Last Jedi. And then for her challenge of the mind, she’s working in the apprentice legislature where she’s interacting with all the senators, including, well, he’s not a senator, but Grand Moff Tarkin of course. And her challenge of the heart is these humanitarian missions. And through all of this, like you said, she sort of figuring out the seeds of the rebellion are beginning and that her parents are very involved in it and that that’s why they’ve been so distant from her because that’s a very big kind of thread throughout the book is that she has a very, very close relationship with her parents and they’ve been really distant lately and she’s quite upset about it.

Sarah: 03:35 I don’t think we’ve mentioned this yet, but she’s 16 in this book by the way.

Rachel: 03:38 She’s, she’s, she’s very young in this book, although in fairness, I think it’s still only like two years before A New Hope.

Sarah: 03:45 It’s either two or three years.

Rachel: 03:46 She’s quite young in A New Hope too. Two or three, yeah, she’s like 18 or 19 I think in A New Hope. Um, so very young but still not that far before we see her in the, in the movies for the first time.

Sarah: 03:58 Yes.

Rachel: 03:58 So the other important thing to note with this is so she’s, figuring out that her parents are a part of the rebellion, and she’s very much trying to get involved in it, but her parents really don’t want that. Her father in particular, because they, I mean, they love her a lot as well and are very keen to protect her but Leia kind of see something that they aren’t willing to accept yet, which is that of course if her parents are involved in the rebellion, she’s going to be inherently in danger too. And also that the empire is really bad and she wants to fight back against it, so she’s trying to sort of covertly help them find out information and stuff as best she can. Mostly on these humanitarian missions. Like she goes to Naboo at one point. Of course, the emperor’s homeworld and a few other places to try and get information and they’re not really having it. But Mon Mothma is a little more willing to let her help and eventually she winds up finding out some important information and also at one point kind of saving the rebellion when she discovers that Tarkin has figured out where much of their fleet is including her father and she is able to get to them in time and rescue them. But she’s also revealed a little bit of information about her knowledge of the rebellion to a couple of people, most importantly at this point, Keir, who is the guy she has a crush on and uh.

Sarah: 05:11 And by this point, by the time she was revealed that, they’re basically sort of dating, but yeah.

Rachel: 05:16 Unofficially, but like, yeah, basically, and he has very different feelings about it because his loyalty really lies solely with Alderaan and even though he’s, you know, for all intents and purposes, a good guy, he makes a really bad choice, which is basically Alderaan over the whole rest of the galaxy. So he’s planning to give this information to the emperor.

Sarah: 05:39 Which is also funny because he hasn’t kind of thought through that if he does this, Alderaan is going to be in a crazy amount of danger, but.

Rachel: 05:47 Right.

Sarah: 05:47 Sure.

Rachel: 05:47 Yeah. I think he’s thinking it’ll, that he will somehow be able to mitigate that danger. But yeah, so he winds up being killed accidentally in this sort of frantic rush to get the fleet out. There’s an explosion, a timed explosion. He is not aware of everything that’s going on and gets caught in the explosion and dies. And so then that was kind of how the book ends is with Leia having to deal with that. So yeah, that’s probably a pretty good.

Sarah: 06:10 Yeah. I think we’ve covered the basics.

Rachel: 06:11 A summary of things that we need to know.

Sarah: 06:15 So where I wanted to start our discussion is the role this book ends up playing in sort of linking all of the movies together.

Rachel: 06:25 Yeah, it definitely does because it’s so. It was written as a part of the Journey to Star Wars: the Last Jedi series. So we definitely get a lot of obvious connections to that, but it really does sort of have allusions and lines connecting it to really pretty much every movie in the Star Wars Universe with the possible exception of Solo, I would say.

Sarah: 06:45 Yeah, no real connections to Solo probably. I haven’t actually seen that movie. I’m a little embarrassed to admit. So I can’t be 100 percent.

Rachel: 06:53 It really doesn’t have any connections. So I mean Solo came out after the book so that makes sense.

Sarah: 06:57 So it has connections to all of the books that, all the movies that came out before it and the Last Jedi.

Rachel: 07:03 Right.

Sarah: 07:04 So I want to start going through sort of what all of these ties are because I think it’s really interesting and I want to go sort of chronologically within the timeline in universe. So we’ll start with the prequels.

Rachel: 07:16 AKA, the incorrect order, but…

Sarah: 07:18 Not the order the movies came out, but the order that they, people in the universe would have experienced things. So we’ll start with the references of the prequels, then Rogue One, then the original trilogy, and then the sequel trilogy.

Rachel: 07:29 Got it.

Sarah: 07:29 Okay. So for the prequels, it starts when Leia decides to go on a diplomacy mission to the moon of Naboo, and there she meets the queen of Naboo.

Rachel: 07:41 And the Queen has really become like a figurehead, not actual political figure.

Sarah: 07:45 Yes, she has no power at all, but while they’re there they go visit some miners, their clothes get dirty and they’re going to go meet this general or the governor.

Rachel: 07:53 Moff.

Sarah: 07:53 The moff of the region Naboo is in. And they need to change. So Leia borrows one of the Queen’s dresses. The way the dress is described, we can be pretty sure that it’s the dress that was worn at the end of The Phantom Menace. It’s either the actual dress.

Rachel: 08:09 Her white, her white celebration dress.

Sarah: 08:11 It’s either the actual dress that her mother wore, or it’s a replica of the dress.

Rachel: 08:17 Yeah, because it’s like it’s a traditional dress. So even if it’s not the exact same one, it would look exactly the same.

Sarah: 08:22 Yeah. So Leia wears a dress that is something her mother once wore, which is a nice tie in there. And then she goes to meet the moff in this dress her mother once wore, and the moff is Quarsh Panaka. And maybe you’re thinking to yourself, do I know that name? Should I know that name?

Rachel: 08:40 That name sounds oddly familiar.

Sarah: 08:43 And if it doesn’t, that’s okay because Quarsh Panaka only shows up in The Phantom Menace.

Rachel: 08:48 One movie.

Sarah: 08:49 He is Queen Amidala’s security chief, and if you Google Quarsh Panaka and look up his image are going to be like, oh yeah, I remember him.

Rachel: 08:58 You’ll recognize him.

Sarah: 08:58 He had a whole distinctive look. He’s very clearly the security chief and basically what’s happened is he’s loyal to Palpatine, and he’s been loyal to Palpatine since Palpatine was just a senator. He’s not really an emperor guy.

Rachel: 09:13 He’s not loyal to the empire. He’s loyal to the emperor, if that makes sense.

Sarah: 09:18 So they walk in and Quarsh Panaka immediately recognizes Leia is Padme’s daughter.

Rachel: 09:24 Like open mouth shock.

Sarah: 09:25 Yeah, he, he liked. I think he nearly drops his teacup. He definitely spills some tea.

Rachel: 09:31 Spilled the tea, Sarah.

Sarah: 09:34 So yeah, he’s like questioning her about like how old are you? When were you adopted? Who were your birth parents? And Leia’s like…

Rachel: 09:40 Like super inappropriate probing questions.

Sarah: 09:44 Like this is weird because she doesn’t know what’s up. She has no idea that this guy knew her birth mother, and he, it ends with him saying, I am going to tell the emperor what a distinguished daughter the Organas have adopted.

Rachel: 09:58 Yeah, he says, I think he should know that the Organas adopted a daughter of such distinction.

Sarah: 10:02 Yeah. So.

Rachel: 10:04 Dun Dun Dun.

Sarah: 10:05 Immediately like, I’m like, okay, so this guy’s going to die and that doesn’t take long at all. Which brings us into the Rogue One references.

Rachel: 10:14 Yep, we’ve got an immediate explosion.

Sarah: 10:16 Immediate explosion.

Rachel: 10:17 The attack on Naboo.

Sarah: 10:19 Well on a moon of Naboo not on Naboo itself.

Rachel: 10:21 I mean it still the Naboo system.

Sarah: 10:23 Yeah, but Saw Guerrera blows up Panaka’s house and nearly kills Leia.

Rachel: 10:30 Which we know because when Leia goes back to her parents, and her parents are another connection to the prequel trilogy, super upset that she went to Nobu and kind of being like, is there a reason you went there honey? Like does she remember or like know things we don’t know. And her parents are like, no, no, no. That wasn’t us. That wasn’t like are part of the rebellion. That was Saw Guerrera.

Sarah: 10:52 The partisans who are, the more.

Rachel: 10:54 They’re like the violent faction of this kind of burgeoning rebellion.

Sarah: 10:58 Yeah. They’re less worried about collateral damage.

Rachel: 11:02 Right. In fact, arguably more worried about causing damage.

Sarah: 11:06 So there are a couple of other small references to Rogue One. So the first planet Leia visits as her.

Rachel: 11:13 Yeah. Her humanitarian missions

Sarah: 11:15 Humanitarian missions is Wobani, which.

Rachel: 11:18 Right. Which we know from Rogue One as the planet where Jen Urso was in prison.

Sarah: 11:23 And it’s even mentioned that all that’s on Wobani now are Empire prison camps because it’s been wrecked.

Rachel: 11:29 Yeah, it’s like the empire has destroyed it so badly, like economically that there’s nothing else it can sustain basically.

Sarah: 11:37 And then the last reference to Rogue One. So this one is subtle. I thought there might be reference here, but I had to go look it up and double check what other people thought before I shared this one. But at the end when they’re on Pamarthe, there’s a empire official speaking with Senator Lenz who’s wearing a white jacket, and they’re talking about quadanium steel, which is most likely a reference to Krennic from Rogue One.

Rachel: 12:03 Yeah. I saw when I was doing some research before this episode, I saw that there was a reference to Krennic, but I didn’t catch it, but I, I think you’re right. I think that’s probably it.

Sarah: 12:14 Yeah. I had to double check on it. The way they’re describing it makes me feel like I should recognize this guy.

Rachel: 12:19 Yeah. I had the same feeling that scene happened and I was like, who is this dude, why are they’re making such a big deal out of this, but then I would just kinda let it go. I was like, Eh, I don’t know. It’s probably some reference I’m missing or some very like, you know, because people who are writing star wars books, their favorite thing is to make all the tiniest little subtle connections and references to like a character that wasn’t even named in the, you know, like Cantina scene or something, but they’re going to reference it.

Sarah: 12:43 Well, I didn’t even talk about this earlier. The whole thing with Quarsh Panaka. Being a moff is a reference to the old EU.

Rachel: 12:50 Old extended universe. Yeah. That’s been apparently Claudia Gray, like saw somewhere that it was a reference because early on, this is a bit of a tangent, but early on when she was planning this book, she actually was thinking she would make him like an accomplice to the rebellion. That he would be involved in the rebellion because she thought that would be fun. And then she saw that actually in the old extended universe that’s no longer canon, that he was the moff and loyal to the emperor and she was like, oh, I have to make that official, I have to make that canon. So she kept that little detail from the old EU.

Sarah: 13:19 So they love things like that. I could tell it was a reference, but you had to go check. So now let’s talk about the references to the original trilogy because I think most of the references in this book are to the original trilogy, because this book takes place like two or three years.

Rachel: 13:34 Of course because it takes place right before it. Yeah. And obviously it’s about Leia who plays a huge role in the original trilogy.

Sarah: 13:41 Yeah. So one thing is like there’s some brutal foreshadowing about the fate of Alderaan.

Rachel: 13:48 Oh my gosh. The final line of this book is just like a knife to the heart.

Sarah: 13:54 Yeah.

Rachel: 13:55 It is so brutal. Claudia Gray apparently thought of this line very early on. I was like, oh, this has to be the last line, but just just listen to this and tell me your heart does not shatter into a million pieces. The last line of this book is, “My parents, Leia thought, my friends, my world, these are the things the empire can never take away.”

Sarah: 14:12 Man.

Rachel: 14:13 Oh my gosh.

Sarah: 14:14 Oh, it’s bad. And there’s a lot of things about like references to stuff that’s happening to other planets. Why like people are worried about her parents being involved in the rebellion, like what might happen to Alderaan.

Rachel: 14:25 Well and it really does. I mean not that we need a reason that Tarkin and Vader and everybody else would just blow up Alderaan because it’s also kind of just characterizing what the empire is like in A New Hope, but it also does explain her parents’ involvement in the rebellion, the degree to which they’re involved. Now that we see that, it makes it even more obvious why they would do that. And we also see other instances in this book of them doing similar to other planets, punishing whole cities and whole planets. And of course we see that in Rogue One too, but punishing, you know, just whole groups of people for the misdoings of small groups.

Sarah: 15:02 And we also learned how aware the empire is of her parents’ involvement in the rebellion.

Rachel: 15:09 Oh My Gosh, very aware. They just don’t have the proof.

Sarah: 15:12 And we learned that through Grand Moff Tarkin who makes a number of appearances in this book as Leia’s antagonist.

Rachel: 15:20 Which is really great because we know from A New Hope in their very first interactions that they know each other and clearly from their past experiences and interactions, they’ve really grown to loath each other already at this point. And so we don’t. I mean we can kind of assume why just based on their personalities and their allegiances and stuff, but we really see why in this book because it’s kind of a journey from them very much playing each other at the beginning and Tarkin assuming Leia is this, you know, stupid innocent little girl who might be able to be manipulated and then Leia manipulating him right back and doing it way better. So that to the end, basically they’ve both realized what side the other is really on and both realized that they’re being manipulated by the other and they hate each other.

Sarah: 16:04 Yeah. And it also explains a lot of like behavior of Grand Moff Tarkin in the book. He’s not going to believe anything Leia says. He knows how good Leia can look him in the eyes and lie because he knows.

Rachel: 16:15 She, she really is an excellent liar. An excellent manipulator.

Sarah: 16:19 Yeah. She’s going to do what she has to keep her friends and family safe.

Rachel: 16:23 There is a reason she is so invaluable to the rebellion.

Sarah: 16:24 Yeah, she, she knows what she’s doing for sure.

Rachel: 16:28 Yeah. I mean she was raised to be a politician. Let’s be real.

Sarah: 16:30 Yeah. So there are a number of sort of little cameos. We get to see Mon Mothma. We get to see

Rachel: 16:38 the beginning of the rebellion and all the leaders involved.

Sarah: 16:42 We see the Tantive IV with Captain Antilles and C-3PO and R2-D2.

Rachel: 16:47 Right. Which is so cute.

Sarah: 16:49 Yeah. And then this is another one of those, like you might miss it. I missed it. I had no idea this was a reference until I saw someone mention it online, but there’s, when she’s looking for a ship at one point there’s a mention of her seeing a YT model freighter. Uh, I did not know what that was, but apparently the Millennium Falcon is a YT model freighter. So it was probably a reference to the Millennium Falcon and based on timeline probably a reference to Han Solo.

Rachel: 17:17 Oh yeah. Almost certainly. Yeah. You can’t reference the Millennium Falcon without referencing Han Solo.

Sarah: 17:22 Yeah, like a missed connection kind of thing. They so close but they didn’t actually meet, meet then.

Rachel: 17:28 So close, but not quite. Um, I mean we also just got a lot of really great backstory and characterizations of Leia. I really loved how much we got to see her relationship with her parents and also got to know a lot more about Breha and Bail and who they were as people and how much they adored Leia and kind of see their conflict too in their love for Leia versus their desire to make a safer galaxy for her and knowing that that was putting her in danger. That was really, really cool. And I think it helped us really see how Leia, I became the person she became in the original trilogy and we also got to see her use the force for the first time, which was super cool.

Sarah: 18:05 And that leads us into the references to the sequel trilogy because the first time we see her on camera using the force is in The Last Jedi.

Rachel: 18:14 Well that’s debatable. We see her using it sometimes in the original trilogy. It’s just more subtle like influences of the force and syncing others through the force which is still force use.

Sarah: 18:27 Yeah.

Rachel: 18:27 It’s just not the flashy stuff.

Sarah: 18:29 Yeah. Well in the book she gets to do the flashy stuff.

Rachel: 18:32 Yes.

Sarah: 18:34 She makes like an impossible leap to save her boyfriend, Keir, from falling to his death.

Rachel: 18:41 Yeah. They’re like on a cliff face and she basically flips over it or something. It’s, it’s ridiculous. It also, by the way, this is total tangent, but it made me think of that story from A Certain Point of View. Do you know what I’m talking about? The, uh, I think it was called. “There Is Another” [by Gardy D. Schmidt] where Yoda and Obi-Wan are having that conversation about who they’re going to train as a jedi and you know, clearly everyone who’s reading this thinking, oh yeah, of course, you know, Yoda’s about to start training Luke and that’s what Obi-Wan is thinking. And then Yoda is like, excuse me. No, Leia is the one who needs to be trained. She has the skill, she has the talent, she has the temperament, which is maybe debatable, but

Sarah: 19:18 I don’t know that either of them has the temperament.

Rachel: 19:20 It definitely made me well, Leia takes a little more after her father in some ways I think. Yeah, and not in, you know, she’s going to the dark side kind of a way, but she’s a little more fiery I think than Luke.

Sarah: 19:36 I see that. Yeah. So the other biggest reference to the sequel trilogy is that we’re introduced for the first time to Amilyn Holdo.

Rachel: 19:46 Right. This is, she’s obviously for everyone who’s seen The Last Jedi, I, she’s a pretty major character in that movie and this is the very first time she appears in the Star Wars Universe is in this book. And we see her as one of the classmates in Leia’s pathfinding class and she’s an interesting character.

Sarah: 20:06 Yes.

Rachel: 20:06 Kind of Luna like.

Sarah: 20:08 Very luna, like.

Rachel: 20:10 Yeah, just very airy and she says all sorts of weird stuff. At one point she’s like, if you don’t let the gases in a new planet’s air sink into your skin organically, it can cause disturbances in your dreams. And she’s like very into astrology. It even gets them out of one almost major incident with the empire at one point.

Sarah: 20:27 Yeah. It’s, it’s great. She, she’s clearly very smart and sort of uses these things to make other, let other people make assumptions.

Rachel: 20:36 Right. And I think this book also really helps us see how she got involved. I mean first off with the rebellion, but later on how her involvement in that and her relationship with Leia and their early friendship would lead her getting involved in the resistance that we’ve seen in the sequel trilogy as well. And I think it also helps us to understand some of her actions in the movie as well and why she’s maybe not the best communicator and a little bit difficult to understand sometimes because in the book we see that she kind of has a way of telling the end of her point instead of telling what the point actually is. Like she just says things in a very roundabout way that she thinks is like, oh obviously I just told you what I meant, but everyone else is like, you just said that in metaphor.

Sarah: 21:16 So the other reference to the sequel trilogy is Leia finds the rebel base on Crait.

Rachel: 21:22 Right. Which I felt like, I don’t know about you. I felt like such an idiot when this was happening because they kept talking about Crait and I was like, Crait, Crait, Crait. I was like, I know Crait. Crait is one of the major planets. Why do I know Crait? And I just kept trying to figure out and I was like, was it the prequel? I was like, no, no, it wasn’t the prequel trilogy. It was. I was like maybe the original. What was it, one of the planets in the original? No, was it in Rogue One? I was like maybe it was in Rogue One. And then finally when they got there and they were talking about the salt, I was like, oh my gosh off course it was a planet from The Last Jedi.

Sarah: 21:49 I think that was a nice tie in and like actually getting to see the base that was once there and like why Leia would think of that place.

Rachel: 21:56 Why they would go back there because the base had already been established during the rebellion. So yeah. That was another good tie in.

Sarah: 22:03 I think it really of explains a lot why when Leia is in trouble, she would think of that planet because I imagine like how many bases do they have? Does she really know where every single base is? Maybe. But like this one is clearly important to her because it’s sorta the first one she found.

Rachel: 22:16 Yeah. So one other kind of overall connection to the movies that I want to make really fast is align that we see in every Star Wars movie. So this is a great nod to Star Wars and no, this is not “may the force be with you”, which is probably the more obvious one, but the line “I have a good feeling about this,” is said in the book, which is great.

Sarah: 22:37 Well, normally the line…

Rachel: 22:39 Well that’s I’m getting. There’s so they’re variations on this line. It’s most often said as “I have a bad feeling about this” or “I have a very bad feeling about this”, but it’s also occasionally “I have a good feeling about this” and some variation of that is that in every single movie in the Star Wars Universe, every single one. And some people may be saying, ah, but Rachel, it’s not said in The Last Jedi. I know because nobody ever says it like it’s not in any of the scenes or anything. Well you would be wrong because it isn’t said in basic, which is what we here would think of as English. It’s like the main language. Whatever translation you’re seeing of Star Wars, the main language they’re speaking is basic, but it’s said in binary by BB-8 when they’re evacuating D’Qar because it’s when maybe you remember when Poe replies, “Happy beeps, buddy, happy beeps.” And Leia is like, just for the record commander, I’m with the droid on this one. It’s because BB-8 says I have a bad feeling about this in binary, which I think is so good.

Sarah: 23:36 I had no idea. That’s so good. That’s so.

Rachel: 23:38 I know, I loved that. So anyway, I thought it was a really great nod to Star Wars nerds everywhere that they had the, the variation of that line that we see in every Star Wars movie, and and many Star Wars books as well by the way.

Sarah: 23:52 There are a couple of references also to the other books Claudia Gray has written in Star Wars extended universe, so Bloodlines is the first book she wrote about Leia and it takes place after the original trilogy, so when they’re sort of establishing like how government’s gonna work without the empire and there’s a big thing about a keepsake box that she has, and there’s a bunch there, number of things in it, but there’s some hair and we never know who’s hair it is. Well we learned in this one, that the hair is Keir’s hair, that’s the hair in her keepsake box and sort of just a little reference to Oh, here’s the keepsake box. I’m giving it over to my dad Bail because I’m an adult now. And he is like, he sort of has a weird look on his face and he’s like, oh, I’m going to keep this safe. And since we didn’t read Bloodlines, I’m not going to spoil it, but Bail puts something in that keepsake box and it’s a, it sort of drives much of the plot of Bloodlines. There are also references to Pamarthe and Gatalenta into and to Tormenay wine, all of which come up in Bloodlines as well. So just fun little nods. Okay. So I think that’s all the references. So I want to talk more about Kier now who is Leia’s first love.

Rachel: 25:04 Right and the big crush of this book.

Sarah: 25:08 And not just crush like they, they, they’re in a relationship before the end and I really want to talk about sort of Keir’s role is almost a foil to Han because they’re super opposite. And like having Keir in the book as being so different from Han sort of makes you think of Han through the whole book, even though obviously he’s not a part of Leia’s life yet. Yeah. So you know, Keir is very respectable. He doesn’t want to fight. He wants to be, you know, a historian. Although he can fight, but he wants to be a historian.

Rachel: 25:41 But he tends to be very peaceful.

Sarah: 25:43 He is, you know, very respectful. He understands like what it means that she’s a princess and how he has to behave around her even though he sometimes says things are a little off because he sort of is very straightforward, but you know, he’s from a good family. He understands what it means that she’s a princess. he’s in the apprentice senate with her. They make a lot of sense. They make more sense in a lot of ways than Han and Leia do. But I think what it really stands out is that what they do at the end, in Keir’s case at the end of the book and Han’s case at the end of A New Hope. So Keir hates the empire all through the book, but he also doesn’t want Alderaan to get mixed up in the rebellion and in the end Keir tries to collect information to send to the empire and he dies doing it and Leia, destroys the information, but he was going to turn in the Orgonas to the empire to try and save Alderaan. That was his final action. A New Hope, Han the whole time, he’s really indifferent to the empire. He doesn’t really care. He’s doing his own thing and he’s surviving just fine. The empire’s not his problem, but then at the very end he swoops in and saves the day and fights the empire. He takes a stand against the empire.

Rachel: 27:04 Yeah. To me a lot of ways. I kind of see it as them being similar in some ways, but like so opposite ends of the spectrum because Keir is kind of. I see him as like the unwilling rebel versus Han being the reluctant rebel because it’s kind of like you said, they both brought into the rebellion without much choice in the matter because you know, obviously Leia kind of tells Keir without him getting to say, Oh yeah, this is something I actually want to be a part of, and Han is just like thrust into it with a paycheck, you know? And so yeah, you’ve got Kier who’s like you said, seeing it as a danger to his people. So he’s unwilling to be a rebel. Whereas Han, you know, he doesn’t really want to be a rebel, but he’s like, I mean, I want to save my friends. So in some ways it’s kind of you’re seeing Kier is the one who is willing to betray the people he loves to do what he thinks is right, which is noble in some ways, but also still terrible. And we know as readers and what we know of the empire and everything’s still really makes the wrong choice.

Sarah: 27:59 It probably would have turned out with Alderaan being destroyed. The same as it was.

Rachel: 28:01 Oh almost certainly. And then you’ve got Han who’s willing to go against his beliefs, which is more kind of ambivalence toward the universe as a whole, at least at first. So he’s willing to go against his beliefs to protect the people he loves.

Sarah: 28:14 He’s willing to sort of take a stand, which he’s sort of overall opposed to.

Rachel: 28:17 And you’ve got, and you’ve got kind of the play by the rules versus make your own rules. Yeah. So they’re, they’re definitely very different characters. Claudia Gray even actually talked a little bit about this in an interview I found where she said that Kier was the anti-Han and she said, you know, Kier’s basically the anti-Han, he’s totally suitable for her. Smart and stable, totally dedicated to Alderaan and a pacifist. That said he has one thing in common with Han, their belief that Leia ought to get to have a personal life instead of living her duty every hour of the day. So like they have some similarities, but they really are total opposites.

Sarah: 28:50 Yeah. Yeah.

Rachel: 28:50 And ultimately, even though Kier seems like he would be the perfect match for Leia, Han winds up being the one who actually kind of fits with her life choices.

Sarah: 29:00 Yeah, I agree.

Rachel: 29:02 And there is also a great line from Breha by the way, which I love. “Whereas she said sometimes it does a girl good to fall for a bit of a scoundrel now and then.” Which was so great.

Sarah: 29:12 Yeah.

Rachel: 29:13 So another kind of big overarching storyline in this book is obviously the rebellion and all of these political movements going on and also just how complicated these movements are and the ethics behind them and the morality behind them and how the choices you make can affect all of that. And so you’ve got these really un-unified forces, you know, Breha’s feelings that the rebellion will be forced to violence on the one hand and Bail and some of the others resistance to that versus you know, Saw Guererra’s insistence on violent action. So you’ve got kind of all of these different factions of the rebellion and Leia really struggles a lot kind of with those different competing ideas with like do you have to do bad things sometimes for the greater good and is it okay to act violently if it means preventing future violence? And a lot of really great lines kind of related to that. Like “there comes a time when refusing to stop violence can no longer be called nonviolence. We ceased to be objectors and become bystanders.” So there’s kind of this idea of, you know, at one, at what point does standing on the side and saying, no, I won’t take up arms. I don’t want to become part of the problem or to cause casualties or anything like that. At what point does that become kind of complicit to the empire’s crimes? And Leia really struggles with that a lot. I think it’s one of her big struggles in the book is figuring out how does she feel about her parents’ involvement because she sees a lot of the things that the rebellion is doing and sometimes she’s not sure which side of the rebellion it is. Like the explosion on the moon of Naboo.

Sarah: 30:46 Yeah.

Rachel: 30:46 And she’s kind of thinking, you know, I thought if my parents were involved in this, when she first finds out that Bail is leading the rebellion, she’s like, oh, well if my father’s involved then “I know that it’s good at it’s core”, but then later on she kind of starts to question that because she sees some of the more dangerous things and she also is hearing from Kier’s point of view, the dangerous it’s putting Alderaan in, and even though she eventually kind of comes to see that, you know, sometimes you have to act more courageously and maybe that even sometimes mean putting the people you care about in danger if it means acting for the greater good, but it’s really, it’s a difficult thing for her because she’s very, very kindhearted and very empathetic. That’s one of the things we really see in this book. She feels so terrible for her actions on Wobani at the beginning, the misstep she makes there that actually kind of wind up interfering with some of the things that both politically and with the rebellion Breha and Bail were hoping to do there. Yeah. And like at one point she says you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, you know, thinking about the rebellion. But this wasn’t dirt, this was blood and yeah. So I think obviously those, those things play a big role in the book. But I also thought it was interesting because I do think you can definitely make connections to the president and our political landscape and everything and I think there’s some definite mirroring their, you know, this came out in 2017, so I don’t think it would be reading too much into things to see that as a possibility. Especially since star wars has always had so many connections to politics of the time when it was coming out and to, you know, it’s never been an apolitical series. It just hasn’t. It’s always been involved in that. And so I, I just thought that idea of, you know, not being a bystander and sometimes you need to stand up even if it’s scary or even if you’re not really sure what that means, you have to stand up and you can’t just be complicit in the bad things that you see going on around you, you know, herd mentality. You can’t just stand by and let it happen. And there were just a few lines that particularly stood out to me in that way, like how they fight an entire government, a way of thinking, a skewed lens for viewing the world, which of course made me think of the idea of fake news and you know, dismissing any facts that don’t align with your worldview. We see a lot of that in the book with propaganda and just even though people aren’t necessarily just believing what the empire says or what the emperor says, you know, they’re still kind of this feeling that maybe people don’t know everything that’s actually going on.

Sarah: 33:02 Yeah. And that all of that kind of leads in to what I think one of the big themes of the book was. And that is what does it mean to actually do good?

Rachel: 33:11 Oh yeah, definitely.

Sarah: 33:13 Uh, because, and I think the sort of biggest part that really drives home that this is going to be the question, the book, is this the first humanitarian mission to Wobani which, you referenced a number of times, but just so w’ere thorough, Leia goes there, she sees how bad things are. She gives out all the supply she brought and she’s just like this isn’t enough. I need to get people off this planet. So she finds a way to get 100 people off the planet and take them to Alderaan.

Rachel: 33:38 Which is incredible.

Sarah: 33:39 Yeah. So she saves 100 people.

Rachel: 33:42 It takes a lot of ingenuity and cunning on her part to do by the way, because the empire is not for it.

Sarah: 33:47 Yes. And then she finds out that her father and other senators, we’re working to get everyone off Wobani. And what she has just done probably means that won’t happen anymore.

Rachel: 34:02 Right?

Sarah: 34:03 So she saved a 100 people who really needed to get off that planet as quickly as possible. She got 100 people who weren’t like, she got kids, the sick, the elderly. She got people who needed off the planet soon, off the planet immediately. But she, it meant everyone else got stuck there. Whereas, you know what’s interesting, they could have gotten everyone off in months, but maybe the people she saved wouldn’t have made it months.

Rachel: 34:29 Yeah.

Sarah: 34:30 So that becomes like a big thing for her the whole time. Like how would you actually help people in a way that actually helps them and doesn’t just, you know, you’re not just patting yourself on the back and feeling like you did good. How do you actually do something that is good?

Rachel: 34:47 Right. Well, it’s kind of a driving force for her really digging deeper into the rebellion too. Because she even says to her parents when they’re really upset and frustrated that she’s done this and messed up this plan that they had. She says, well, I didn’t know. How could I have possibly known when you’re keeping secrets from me, when you’re not telling me. And I think it’s part of the reason that she’s so determined to get to the truth of everything.

Sarah: 35:07 Yeah.

Rachel: 35:07 Because she realizes that when she doesn’t know the full story, because Leia’s never going to stop acting. She is not a person of inaction. You know? She’s always going to be making those dangerous plays, doing wild moves to try and help people, but if she doesn’t know the full story, Wobani could happen again.

Sarah: 35:22 Yeah.

Rachel: 35:23 And she might help a few people but doom a lot more. And so I think it becomes really important to her to know the truth so that she could do good in the best way possible.

Sarah: 35:31 Yeah, and I think it’s just like a thing a lot of people think about is how do you help people in a way that’s sustainable in a way that’s actually positive for them and not just for them, but for as many people as you can because the people who she helped, they’re thrilled. They’re so grateful because they don’t know that everyone else might have been saved if this, if they hadn’t been saved, you know, they don’t know that.

Rachel: 35:55 Well, and then there is also the question, this isn’t exactly raised in the book, but that was an if.

Sarah: 36:01 Yeah.

Rachel: 36:01 That wasn’t a sure thing yet. Leia a saved 100 people. She did that and the possibility of saving everyone definitely hangs over her and everyone else who knows that it was a possibility, but she still actually saved 100 people, you know. And had she known that it was possible to save everyone, she probably wouldn’t have done that and maybe everyone would have gotten saved and that would be amazing, but if they hadn’t and as you said, those 100 people were the most at risk might they still have died and everyone else still would been there too.

Sarah: 36:28 And I think that’s another question like people think about a lot is is it better to do some good right now or more good later?

Rachel: 36:37 Like the possibility of more good later.

Sarah: 36:39 Yeah, it’s always possible to do more good later. It’s uh, you see this thing a lot where it’s talking about like what charities do with money and like if they have $100 today, it could spend $100 buying food for someone or they can invest it and then in a year they’ll have more than $100.

Rachel: 36:57 Right. But then do they keep investing and keep investing in it?

Sarah: 37:00 Yeah, but you’ll always just always a possibility that you could do more and at some point you have to take action now and I think that’s something Leia has to learn.

Rachel: 37:07 That really goes back to the idea of inaction versus action, you know, and the idea, again, there’s some really great lines in this book driving this home and a lot of, a lot of it is in between conversations in Leia and Amilyn Holdo too. They have some really great kind of philosophical discussions about basically being a pacifist versus really taking action and doing good when necessary. And so they talk about things like goodness has proved through action rather than ideas and good intentions aren’t enough. They’re not meaningless, but that’s where we have to start, not where we end. So I think that underlying idea of, again, you can’t just be a bystander, you can’t just have good intentions and say recognize that the empire is being terrible but not do anything about it because that’s just good intentions. That’s just saying, oh yeah, I know it’s bad, but what can we do? You have to do something behind those good intentions.

Sarah: 37:56 Yes.

Rachel: 37:56 So I think, yeah, I think in a lot of ways ultimately the question of what, what does it mean to do good? I think it is to do.

Sarah: 38:04 Uhuh.

Rachel: 38:04 To actually do something and maybe it’s not always the perfect something. And again, I do think that’s a big issue in the book is trying to figure out how to actually do the perfect something rather than do the imperfect something, but still the idea ultimately that it’s better to do something toward good than to do nothing.

Sarah: 38:19 Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And I think that about does it for this episode.

Rachel: 38:25 Yeah, thanks to Sahara Sky for the use of our theme song, Never Long Time Goes By from the album Escapism.

Sarah: 38:30 And thanks for listening. You can get in touch with us by tweeting at unassignedpod over on twitter or emailing us at unassignedreadingpod at gmail dot com. We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions. Tweet about the show. Leave us a positive review over on iTunes and let all your favorite jedi know how fun it is.

Rachel: 38:46 Yeah, because we all know how much the jedi love fun. You can also find transcripts and links to all our social media at unassignedreadingpod dot com.

Sarah: 38:54 We’ll be back for our first episode of the New Year on January 11th. With our next episode of book talk.

Rachel: 39:01 We’re going to be talking about our first reads of 2019 and bookish New Year’s resolutions. It should be really fun and our first book club pick of the New Year is going to be Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Sarah: 39:12 We fell in love with this incredible fantasy series.

Rachel: 39:16 Yeah, it’s dark and magical and amazing and might even remind you of your favorite airbender, so be sure to tune in for our discussion of that on the 25th and we want to wish everyone a very happy holidays and a happy early New Year.

Sarah: 39:28 And a happy Star Wars-mas.

Rachel: 39:31 That’s right. May the force be with you.

Sarah: 39:33 In the meantime, we leave you with these words of wisdom.

Rachel: 39:36 Apparently every once in awhile leadership meant abandoning decorum and yelling as loud as you could.

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