Lost Stars by Claudia Gray is part of the Journey to the Force Awakens series, which is peppered with events and clues that allude to the new Star Wars movie this December. Gray is a fresh voice to Star Wars lore and gives a refreshing perspective of the original movies.
From the time they were children, Ciena and Thane aspired to be pilots and attend the Imperial Academy. When they are finally given the opportunity to achieve their dreams, their tight friendship is tested. Their journey starts before the events of A New Hope and ends a year after Return of the Jedi, and it gives an interesting look at the mentality that comes with serving the Empire.
Ciena and Thane, who graduate at the top of their class at the Imperial Academy, often find themselves at the forefront of conflicts featured in the films as they are both depicted as talented pilots and individuals. These characters, while being dear friends, come from two different backgrounds, and they each have their own reasons for serving the Empire. Ciena is an honor-bound individual of humble origins while Thane comes from a well-off family and is a bit of a cynic. The personal nature of how these new characters respond (and at times justify) the actions of the Empire is one of the strong points of this book. It is easy to wonder what would cause an individual to serve them. I would say early on Ciena and Thane are a bit more idealistic in their hopes of serving the Empire, but as the events of the movies unfold, their reasons and rationalizations change.
Ultimately, the close relationship between these two gives way to romance, but then they find themselves on opposite sides of the Galactic Civil War. Imperial atrocities also become harder to justify to both Ciena and Thane. One joins the Rebellion in spite of personal reservations, while the other hasn’t completely lost faith in the Empire. They interact on a (very) limited basis after that point, but their relationship is still poignant and affects decisions they make.
When the book proceeded to depict what happens post-Endor, I was excited to see events that would set up The Force Awakens. The Empire definitely has a large transition to deal with because of the power vacuum that was created post-Endor, and Gray’s depiction proved quite realistic. Hopefully, we will see more Star Wars books from Claudia Gray, and the characters she has introduced to the Star Wars galaxy.