Princess Leia’s journey from being a sheltered royal on Alderaan to leading the Rebellion and the Resistance is a long one, and its humble beginnings were recently charted in a new novel.
Leia, Princess of Alderaan shows the character’s early years as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, chronicling her first encounters with Grand Moff Tarkin and other important characters in the galaxy.
Writer Claudia Gray spoke with StarWars.com about some spoilers from the book, revealing why these characters were important to Leia’s formation as a leader.
“This is such an interesting period in Leia’s life for me because it’s literally the only time she will ever — ever — not be contending with the fate of the entire galaxy,” said Gray. “She’s someone whose entire life is about duty, responsibility, and the bigger fight. It was fascinating to ask what Leia was like before she ever went to war, back when she was still somewhat sheltered and figuring herself out.”
Gray’s writing never forgets that the character is destined for greater things, which is apparent in her adopted father Bail Organa’s secretive role as a Rebel leader.
But the Senator has plans for his daughter that don’t involve her in the Rebellion, and the only person who gives her the chance is the visionary leader who would help guide them after eventually toppling the Empire.
“Mon Mothma’s always fun — at least, I think so,” said Gray. “To me, it seems clear that anybody who could put together and (maybe more significantly) hold together a Rebel Alliance would have the ability to size people up clearly, to connect with a lot of different attitudes and personalities, and a fundamentally pragmatic approach to most things.
“So when Leia begins showing interest in the Rebellion, Mon Mothma doesn’t dismiss her out of hand as ‘too young’ or ‘too sheltered.’ She assesses Leia neither as a princess nor a daughter, just as herself alone — and she’s probably the first person to ever do so.”
Mon Mothma’s even-keeled attitude in the face of adversity has made her the perfect person to aid the Rebel Alliance.
“Panaka! Originally I thought of having him be a part of the Rebellion,” said Gray, “but then [Story Group executive] Pablo Hidalgo reminded me that in Legends, Quarsh Panaka became a moff loyal to Emperor Palpatine. That was too great a detail not to bring into canon, too.”
That detail is another example that the Extended Universe canon isn’t quite going away – but it is being mined and cherrypicked for the best contributions.
“Plus once I really started thinking about that, and the potential inherent in having someone from Padmé’s life show up in Leia’s too…well, it offered one of my favorite turns in the entire story.
“Of course, Leia has no idea why anyone from Naboo would be connected to her, but her parents are all too aware.”
Another moff from the Empire makes an appearance in the story as well, one familiar to every Star Wars fan.
“[Grand Moff] Tarkin had to be a part of this one!” said Gray. “When we see Leia and Tarkin interact in Episode IV, it’s clear that they already know — and strongly dislike and distrust — each other. Where better to set that up than in Leia’s ‘origin story’ as a rebel?”
Tarkin is foreshadowed as the eventual destroyer of Alderaan, a specter surveying the field before he drops the bomb.
“At first his presence in the book is very slight, only on the periphery. However, as Leia gets closer to the burgeoning Rebellion and begins acting more independently, Tarkin becomes a more immediate, menacing figure.”
The book is loaded with many more references to Star Wars lore that most fans would be able to spot.
Check out Leia, Princess of Alderaan in stores now.