If you’ve been a long time fan of Princess Leia, and looking to jump into the newest books after the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy or Kenobi, I’ve put together the ultimate guide for you.
All these books detail Princess Leia Organa’s journey from her childhood, and up to a few years before The Force Awakens. The beauty of these Star Wars novels is that they give insight into Leia’s character and her motivations behind decisions of the Star War Sequel Trilogy.
Each of these books highlight Leia’s complicated nature, showing us a woman that is not just a simple do-gooder. In fact, between Luke and Leia, the latter takes after her biological father far more.
All of the books I’ve selected are from after Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, meaning they are all canon.
These books also offer insight into Leia’s relationship to the Force, and her sense of ambivalence towards of it, and the life it can represent. This is important, as it informs her choices and decisions in the final film of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker.
Leia, Princess of Alderaan — The Start of Her Journey
As part of the lead up to The Last Jedi, the middle film of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, Claudia Gray wrote the junior novel, Star Wars: Leia, Princess of Alderaan.
Claudia Gray has been one of the best writers of Leia thus far. In this novel, a 14 year old Princess Leia is becoming aware that her parents, Bail and Breha Organa have activities outside their regular political work.
We see Leia use the Force a few times, though she doesn’t truly understand what she does. Her long time friendship with Amilyn Holdo is introduced, and a brief boyfriend, Kier Domadi.
It’s this book where we see Leia take after her mother Padme Amidala. She’s relentlessly curious as her mother was, and negotiates and cleverly persuades her way into situations.
And while Leia is momentarily alarmed about her parents seemingly becoming more distant, this is resolved. It’s worth noting that Bail and Breha Organa place a great deal of trust in their clever daughter. They’ve influenced her a great deal, and instilled the Alderaanian concepts of sacrifice to public service.
While Leia learns to lean on new friends like Amilyn Holdo, her trust in Kier Domadi leads to unfortunate consequences.
This will lead to Leia being far more reserved about giving out information in the future–to both people that work for her such as Poe Dameron, and to her own family, such as Ben Solo. She’s hardly forthcoming about information with Rey either–not telling the young woman of her relation to Palpatine.
Of course, Leia’s parents aren’t eager to give out information to their daughter either, as a form of protection. The soon-to-be official Princess Leia proves to her parents she can be trusted with this information (well, she finds it out for herself).
The tragedy at the story’s end will also lead Leia to fear forming romantic relationships. Until the Empire is destroyed, Leia does not feel she can put herself first.
Leia will wrestle with this sense of eternal self-sacrifice for much of her life.
The Princess and the Scoundrel — Self-sacrifice and a Complicated Family
The most recent book written about Leia after the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy’s conclusion is The Princess and the Scoundrel, by Beth Revis.
Though the latest written Star Wars novel, it comes is second in line chronologically. This fantastic book takes place immediately after the events of Return of the Jedi, and is easily one of the most important and essential novels about Princess Leia.
Revis’s book carries on with Leia’s tradition of eternally working and fighting for the New Republic. Foremost, is Leia’s conflict with serving the Galaxy and finally caring for herself.
Leia’s upbringing from the Organas has instilled a sense of guilt (though they certainly did not intend for it) over anything that may serve Leia herself. Princess Leia realizes that this is a problem. She deserves happiness as much as the people she has helped.
And so Leia Organa chooses happiness with Han Solo–and good for her. But that’s not all of the story. Leia also is faced with the decision of traveling with her brother Luke Skywalker to learn of the Force.
Leia is aware from her father Bail that Jedi served the Republic. However, Luke doesn’t seem to want to act in that capacity (he’s likely learned of what came of that from Yoda).
But Leia herself is still ambivalent about the Force. Yes, her brother has it, and wields it wisely (she doesn’t know about him losing control with Vader in front of Palpatine). But Leia thinks of the Force in the hands of her biological father, Vader.
Leia Organa cannot stand to listen to Luke speak positively of him. She does not know or wantt to know Anakin Skywalker. She associates him with Vader only, a man that tortured her and destroyed her world and planet.
One of the best scenes in this novel is Leia finding her father’s funeral pyre. She yells at it, tells the helmet that she hates him. It’s pretty easy to see the blatant comparison–Leia is absolutely channeling Anakin Skywalker screaming to Obi-wan his hatred for him.
As far as the chronological story is concerned, this is one of the earliest examples of Princess Leia acting like her father, and not in a positive way.
This will set another tone for Leia. She is not immune to rage. She is largely able to recognize it. But her association of the Force, and Power, and Vader will lead to a complex relationship with her biological father and her own son.
It will be a very long time before Leia forgives her father, and not until the conclusion of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. Leia’s inability to reconcile and forgive her father will not be resolved until she sees his path in Ben Solo.
Star Wars: Aftermath Trilogy — Leia has a son and uses the Force
So far, the murkiest part of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy timeline is when exactly Princess Leia trains to be a Jedi with her brother Luke Skywalker.
Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath Trilogy was written at the start of The Force Awakens, and has provided much material to be used later in Star Wars Canon. The final book, Empire’s End, gives us the birth of Leia’s son Ben Solo.
Leia is not the primary subject of these books. However, her placement in them is important to the timeline. She has already learned to meditate with Luke Skywalker. Her brother is off and doing his own thing looking for Jedi artifacts.
Leia is now at least comfortable with the Force to meditate with it, and sense her son’s presence in the Force (one that is shot through with Light and Dark). She worries for him.
Given the events of The Rise of Skywalker, Leia has presumably trained with Luke at some point. She would have also had already made the decision to put aside her lightsaber to save her son Ben.
More importantly, Leia is feeling fairly comfortable in her role in the nascent New Republic, and just as comfortable with her husband and newly arriving child.
In addition, this trilogy gives us one of Leia’s greatest lines:
I’d burn down the galaxy if I knew it was right.Leia Organa
This is another example of the many ways Leia takes after Anakin Skywalker, even when she doesn’t realize it. Both Anakin and Leia had a tendency towards extremes and absolutist solutions. Anakin desires order because he truly wanted to make the world a better place.
Leia wants galactic change as well. While the Organas have tempered her to be a diplomat that listens to the people, that tendency towards unblinking righteousness, is one that Leia will be drawn to. Again, it will be her relationship to her son, and age, that will temper some of this.
Bloodline — one of the greatest later Princess Leia novels
One of the greatest novels representing the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy is Bloodline by Claudia Gray.
Once again, Leia is the main character of the novel and it’s an absolute must-read. This novel is set only a few years before The Force Awakens. Ben Solo is with his uncle Luke (subtext in The Rise of Kylo Ren by Charles Soule suggests that Ben has learned of his mother’s parentage recently).
As in Revis’s book, Leia has still not forgiven her father. She doesn’t have the burning fiery rage towards Vader as she had in the Princess and the Scoundrel. But Bloodline makes it clear that she has not confronted her feelings towards him.
Leia can now accept her brother Luke’s words and story that Vader became Anakin at the end. But she simply cannot wrap her mind around it. She cannot perceive the father Luke sees.
Ever since the story of the Princess and the Scoundrel, Leia has known that the truth of her parentage would ruin her political aspirations and trust with the public.
Leia has chosen to never tell anyone the truth, and Han and Luke have maintained this secrecy. As far as the galaxy knows, Leia and Luke are siblings, and they were sired by Anakin Skywalker. But none know that Anakin and Vader were the same person.
Leia and Luke have also kept the truth of their father away from their son. Leia sees herself as protecting her son, but it is as much about her political career as it is anything else.
By this point, Leia is also having insecurity about her marriage. Not in her love for him. She has been caught up in work, and is still investigating the “dead” Empire’s reach. However her and Han spend months away from each other. This is reflective of both their independent personalities.
But once again, Leia is being drawn into serving the Galaxy over her own family. However, this too gets a big shock as the one thing she feared finally happens–a rival finally reveals her father.
It’s worth noting that Leia doesn’t truly forgive her father in this book. However, Leia is becoming more self-aware and cognizant of her own Darkness and impulses. It’s enough to jolt Leia into the awareness that they are not so different.
This book also shows us a Leia that loves her son, but seems oblivious to what is going on with him.
Collectively, these books show a Leia that is kind, forceful, and brave. She’s a savvy negotiator and listens to everyone. But they also show a woman how contends with a life built on service to the public. That self-sacrifice makes her happy, but at times can make her miserable.
Leia chooses to put herself first multiple times (and good for her), but is derailed by the needs of the Galaxy. Leia continually withholds information to protect people, but whether it’s for the good of those individuals or self-serving is rightfully debatable.
On film, we know that both Anakin and Leia are plagued by visions of the deaths of their loved ones, and that both seek to thwart those deaths. We’ve yet to see any novel or comic delve into Leia’s decisions too closely, but hopefully we will soon.
As, I wrote previously, it’s possible Leia’s decision to not train as a Jedi has influenced her brother’s insistence on distance with his nephew.
What’s fascinating as well about Bloodline is that a character asks the former Princess Leia why she didn’t train as a Jedi. Some fans have mistakenly thought that the Rise of Skywalker retcons it. But the book actually doesn’t. Leia doesn’t say she never trained, only suggests that the reason is complicated and painful.
The answer she gives is that she feels she can do better as a politician. And it’s fairly revealing that the phrasing Gray gives Leia indicates that this is an answer she has prepared, and that while the answer is not false, neither is it the true or full story.
So The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t retcon Bloodline.