Thanks to Claire1976 for taking the time to write this up for us!
Ok so I just got Bloodline. For some reason one of the big bookstore chains in the UK was selling it before they should have been, so I managed to grab one :) I've spent hours ploughing through it looking for all the important bits. I'm not totally sure on the overall plot, but I can give you all the nitty gritty concerning where Han and Leia are in their marriage. The book is all about Leia, she seems to be on practically every page and from what I can tell, she's written absolutely spot on. So there's tons of Leia on her own, and a big chunk of the story seems to focus on Leia's heritage being made public. It appears that the Galaxy at large had no idea that Leia is the biological daughter of Darth Vader, until now, when it threatens to ruin her chance to run for First Senator of the New Republic. I'm going to concentrate on what this book tells us about Han and Leia as a couple rather than what we learn about Leia as an individual. Because I'm sure that's what most of us want to know, right? Especially since The Force Awakens was such a gut wrenching experience for all of us.
Thought I'd put this post out there to help ease the minds of anyone who was as scared about this book as I have been over the past few months. Just let me say that in the past week or so we've been trolled by certain people claiming various things about this book, good stuff and bad, and a lot of it was NOT true. It's not 100% ideal, but it's really not so bad either, and it's written by Claudia Gray, a former writer of Han and Leia fan fic (anyone out there know what her pen name was ?)
Let's start by shooting down various claims that have been made by people over the past few weeks. I'm sure most of you have heard some of the following.
1) Han and Leia bickered and argued SO MUCH in their early marriage that they decided to live separate lives, and would meet up and live together "occasionally". This is NOT TRUE folks. That was a little fantasy created by a Rey-Lo shipper.
2) Han and Leia live completely separate lives, and even have their own homes. NOT TRUE.
3) Han and Leia regularly go YEARS and YEARS without seeing each other. Lol, that's absolutely NOT TRUE. This one bothered me the most, and I was thrilled to discover that it's just total lies.
4) They lived on the Falcon for the first year of marriage. Sadly, NOT TRUE, and I was hoping that one would be. How cute would that have been?
5) Ben Solo was conceived OUTDOORS. Um, no, this is NOT TRUE. His conception IS mentioned though. More on that later.
6) Leia got pregnant because they were very careless with birth control. Lol, there's absolutely NO mention of this.
Some points of note about the story in general, and Han and Leia's lives.
1) The book is set only 6 years prior to the events of TFA. And Han and Leia are STILL a couple :)
2) Leia is a Senator based on the planet Hosnian Prime. This was the planet that looks exactly like Coruscant and got destroyed by the third Death Star...er, I mean Star Killer base in TFA ;) She has an apartment that she shares with Han, which is described as "modest". It says she has no other residence.
3) Han has already lost the Falcon, and it's mentioned he's had numerous ships since.
4) Han owns a shipping company. He used to be a successful racing pilot, so successful that he's described as "legendary". When he's not shipping he trains younger pilots to race and nowadays even sponsors big races, some for charitable causes. During this book, Han is getting ready for a big tournament that he's sponsoring called the Five Sabers.
5) Ben is off training with Luke. Leia keeps in contact with them via holocall, but we learn that she has been unable to reach them for some time. She's concerned, but it doesn't go into too much detail.
6) There is no mention of Ben being a bad kid, or Leia and Han having concerns about him "going dark". Also of note is that they decided not to tell Ben of his ancestry. He has no idea that Darth Vader is his grandfather at this point, and he's already in his early twenties. This really surprised me. It says Leia couldn't find the right moment to tell him.
7) Chewbacca has been living with his family on Kashyyyk ever since Han and Leia got married.
Ok, I've scoured the book for goodies and I've written down extracts from ALL of the Han and Leia scenes, and bits that mention their relationship. Most of them are here in their entirety, others have been edited down a bit. But all the important stuff is here for you to enjoy. I know I'm not the only one who would go into a book store and grab the latest SW book and stand their and read all the Han and Leia bits. Well, you don't have to with this one, because I've done all the hard work for you. I've included page numbers for easy reference.
Note - Leia is day dreaming and thinks back to when Ben was first born
"Never imagined this," Han had murmured, sitting up in their bed late at night, Ben's tiny head resting in the crook of his father's arm. "Having a kid. Even wanting a kid. But now he's here, and -"
"And you're a dad." Leia leaned closer, unable to resist the chance to tease her husband. "Just think, hotshot. Someday you might even be a granddad."
Han's chuckle had warmed her. "Speak for yourself, sweetheart. Me, I ain't never getting that old."
Pretty much half of chapter two is a long holo chat between Han and Leia. It's too much for me to type up, but here are some of the most notable bits. Here Leia has just told Han that she's thinking of quitting the Senate.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but -what would you do with yourself?"
It was a fair question. Leia had given so much of her life to the Rebellion and then the New Republic that even she sometimes wondered if she had anything left. But she did. Of course.
"I've been thinking." She pretended to mull the question over. "What if I decided to go flying around the Galaxy with some scoundrel?"
Han raised his eyebrows and pointed toward his own chest.
Leia laughed. "Unless you had another scoundrel in mind."
"Hey, hey. I'm the only scoundrel up for the job." He shook his head in surprise? Disbelief? Leia wasn't sure. What mattered was the warmth in his smile.
They'd been apart too often in their marriage. Too long. Han's restlessness had been a large part of that, but he couldn't take all the blame. Leia had remained here, mired in political muck. Now she could finally do her part to change things for them.
Han studied her for a few moments, then began to grin. "You do realise that after three months on the same ship, we're gonna kill each other."
Leia leaned closer to the terminal so he would see the wickedness in her smile. "But won't those three months be fun?"
She was thinking of a sublight run they'd undertaken together early in their marriage, which had begun with a great deal of bickering. However, all that time alone, with no one to interrupt them, had eventually led to much more enjoyable pursuits. Given the timing, she was fairly sure those enjoyable pursuits had led directly, some months later, to Ben's birth.
"Oh we'll have fun." Han brushed his fingers near the holocam, as if he could touch her face. "You better believe it."
"Han, I'm sorry about the campaign. I really wanted something different for us." She thought of her day dreams of the two of them flying across the galaxy together, carefree at last. Already those dreams were fading into shadows. "But nothing ever changes."
"Hey." Han looked up from his work......"Don't apologise to me for taking this seriously, okay? You put duty first. Drives me crazy sometimes, but that's who you are. It's also probably why the Republic is still in one piece."
Leia couldn't quite smile. "Someday." The words sounded like a promise. But Leia couldn't make herself believe that day would ever really come...and she knew Han couldn't, either. Someday was the sun disappearing behind a cloud, a morning lost to darkness before night should have come.
"I'm not dropping out....,but before all this I had been seriously considering retiring. I've wanted to spend more time with my family."
"I imagined living with my husband again. It's been a while since we were together, more than half the year."
She seemed to have a case of paranoia this morning, but she understood why an outsider might believe she was "available", which was proof that Han had definitely been gone too long.
Note- Leia has been injured in a bombing. She leaves Han a voice message to let him know she's ok, and tells him not to rush home. It's not long before a concerned Han sends her a holo message back.
The first image that flickered into being was Han's face, he looked more stricken than she had seen him in years. "Leia, sweetheart, Greer tells me you're sleeping the bacta off...but when I heard somebody had bombed the Senate and saw those pictures...." He shook his head, as if trying to cast the images out of his mind. "If I hadn't gotten your message, I would've gone out of my head. I'm just glad you're all right. Contact me when you're up and around again and if you change your mind about me coming to Hosnian Prime, just say the word." Han gave her that smile that never failed to stop her heart. "I love you."
"You have a lovely home, Princess Leia."
Leia chuckled. "You say that now. Come back when my husband has been home for a few weeks. Socks everywhere." Although she made a joke of it, Ransolm recognised in that moment that she missed her husband greatly.
Note - Han sends another holo message, which Leia views later on.
Leia felt a pang of loneliness..... "Make sure you're taking care of yourself, all right? It's gonna be a while before I can get back and take care of you and I know how good you are at getting into trouble." Han's lopsided grin made him look, just for a moment, like the dashing young smuggler she'd first met. "That's what I like best about you, you know."
Note - Leia sends Han a recorded holo message....
"Han, it's me. By the time you receive this I will have left Hosnian Prime for what the rest of the world thinks is my hiding away to contemplate my disgrace." (Her disgrace is being Vader's daughter)
Leia could be wry about it now. She'd poured her heart out to Han in a more heartfelt message yesterday, one so grief stricken she had hesitated before sending it, even to her husband. But if she couldn't have Han with her to help her through, at least she could tell him how she felt. Over and over Leia spoke into the void....she knew why it had to be this way, but never before had her separations from Han, Ben and Luke been more difficult to bear.....Leia smiled into the holocam, trying to envision Han's face. If her mission went wrong, her next words might be the last thing Han would hear her say. The first time she'd had to ask herself what to do in this situation had been on Cloud City, and she said the same thing now as she had said then. "I love you."
Leia's feet slammed to the floor as she let the heavy tow drop. She ran for the cockpit, where the pilot was so hard at work he didn't even turn around.
"Sorry I'm late, sweetheart," said Han.
She slipped into the empty copilot seat beside him. "Honey, you're right on time."
Her husband had not only received her message, but dropped everything he was doing to rush here to help her....Leia let go of all the frustration she felt at Han's long absences, all the bickering they'd never grown out of. In the end, she knew, he would always come through.
Han snuggled her closer against his chest as they lay together in their bed on Hosnian Prime. Moonlight slanted through the window.....Leia rested her head on his shoulder and shut her eyes, taking comfort in the tenderness in which he kissed her forehead.
.......Han stroked her hair, which spread across her pillow, off the far edge of the bed. ".....once your term's up, you're free. You can spend time flying around with an old scoundrel for a change."
"Han, that sounds like paradise." But she couldn't set aside all her worries so easily. "Has it been bad for you? When the sunlight relays ended, and you came to realise they knew my secret... (She's talking about Vader being her father)
"Everyone assumed I must've had no idea who I'd married. I made that clear that I'd known (about Vader) from the start, that I don't give a damn, and nobody with any sense wouldn't care either."
One of the best things about Han was that he boiled everything down to the essentials and disregarded the rest. Sometimes he simplified things too much, but mostly he helped her focus on what really mattered. He'd calmed her down about Ben, more or less but even Han could only take her so far.
....."Hey, just for tonight, let it go. Not even you can save the galaxy before breakfast." Han smiled gently. "You take too much on yourself. Always have. And you've been through too much lately. So let someone else take care of you for a while."
She felt some of the tension drain away from her. "Do you have any idea how much I love you?"
"Yeah, I'd say I have a pretty good idea." Leia mock punched him in the arm, and Han chuckled. "C'mon, you know I love you, too."
"Yes," she said as she titled her mouth up for a kiss. "I know."
"See? I told you things would turn around," Han said that evening, as they dined at home.
Han had brought back Bilbringi food, cheesy meat pies with peppers ; Leia liked Bilbringi, though not quite as much as he did. Tonight though, it hit the spot.
....Han, who could eat these things in the cockpit while flying, deftly rewrapped his own pie. "well, don't worry. You don't have to deal with this alone, all right?" I'm willing to be here as long as you need me."
Willing. That one word said do much. Leia never doubted Han's love for her, but she also knew that he would always be a wanderer at heart. He would stay with her on Hosnian Prime for a year or more if she asked him to, but she would feel as if she'd clipped a bird's wings.
She set down her food. "Han. It's all right. We both know you want to get back to the Sabers."
"It's just a race, sweetheart."
"Yes, but this mess I'm in...it shouldn't wreck your life too. Besides, I think the Galaxy would forgive me for being Vader's daughter faster than they'd forgive me for postponing the hyperspace championship round of the Five Sabers."
Han shook his head in wonder. "You can still surprise me."
"The worst is over, I'll be fine."
Simply knowing he'd soon be back in his ship, flying free, had brightened Han's mood. "I Gotta admit, I wouldn't have known what to do with all the political mumbo jumbo anyway. Fighting blasters is fairer, and if you ask me it probably causes a whole lot less damage."
She sighed in fond exasperation. "Some things never change."
His expression grew more serious and he ra he'd across the table to take her hand. "That's right, somethings will always be the same."
"Is that a promise?"
"You better believe it."
Later that evening Leia changed out of her senatorial robes into an overall and one of Han's leather jackets. It hung big on her, but smelled comfortingly of him, even so long after he'd gone.
So there you have it. I'll conclude with some of my own thoughts and a few concerns. Firstly the bad stuff. Even though Han and Leia don't decide to live separate lives, it's very clear that they spend an awful lot of time apart, and that Han isn't really content to sit around in a domestic set up. To be fair, in all honesty, I don't think Han would be content to sit at home the whole time. He would need to do something just for him, so I can see him pursuing these things. Being a racing pilot, and training others seems like the perfect post war job for our fav scoundrel, and the shipping business is also something I can see him doing. It's like smuggling, only legal ;) So I think he would have SOME time away from Leia, as long as it's not TOO long. I really hate the idea that he might be away more often than he's with her, because it definitely shouldn't be like that. As we don't really get any time frame for his absences, let's assume it's not that bad. Unfortunately the fact he is away from home a lot will undoubtedly give the twisted Rey-lo shippers plenty of ammo to fire back at us, about Han never being there for poor ickle Benny and how he's such a dead beat dad. So there's that. I'd like to think though that Han WAS there for Ben. He certainly seemed thrilled to be a father in that adorable little flash back. Maybe Han only started being away a lot after Ben had gone to train with Luke? We don't have enough info to know at this point. Also the Rey-lo's are sure to comment on the "bickering", but as any Han and Leia fan knows, bickering is what makes them. It's like foreplay. And it doesn't have to be bad, it can be sweet and tender too.
On the plus side, I think it's very clear that they do have a strong marriage. They are still deeply in love and you do wonder how they could have become estranged not long after when they seem in such a good place after 23 years of marriage. Despite comments made by JJ Abrams about them being ill suited, and that they would have a bad marriage, there certainly isn't evidence of this. Leia missing Han so much and wanting to give up the only life she has ever known to be with him, is more than enough to tell us that they had a good marriage, and that Leia wants to give herself entirely to Han so they can grow old together. If their marriage sucked she wouldn't want to do that. It just makes me so sad that this never happened :(
So mostly, this is a book that heals a fair amount of the hurt caused by TFA. It shows us our fav couple haven't been apart for years and years as some led us to believe and their estrangement has only been a fairly recent thing. They were happily married for at least 23 years, even if they were apart for some it. But is it any worse than the Bantam era, when Leia often lamented that she never saw Han? And Luke was amazed that they had managed to have three kids as they were never in the same place at the same time? Not really, and for that, at least, I am grateful.
Now, I can go read the book properly :)