'Star Wars: Episode 8' Director Rian Johnson Contributed To 'Star Wars: Bloodline'

A steady stream of Star Wars novels have been published since Disney wiped out the original expanded universe and started rebuilding the larger canon from scratch, but only a few of them have felt like required reading. The upcoming Star Wars: Bloodline is being promoted as something more than just another story set in this beloved universe – it sounds essential to understanding the state of the galaxy as seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Now, it's been revealed that Star Wars: Episode 8 director Rian Johnson contributed to the novel in some capacity, which is an intriguing prospect. It certainly sounds like the seeds of the next movie will be found here.

This news originated over at StarWars.com, where Jen Heddle, a senior editor for fiction at Lucasfilm, wrote a brief article explaining why fans should read author Claudia Gray's new novel. The post is essentially a fluffy advertisement, but it's a fluffy advertisement with its fair share of details worth pondering.

Here's what we do know about Star Wars: Bloodline: it's set about five or six years before the events of The Force Awakens, features Princess Leia as the lead character, will explore the formation of the First Order, will explain why Leia founded the Resistance, and will reportedly shed details on Supreme Leader Snoke and his connection to the Solo family. Much of that sounds like information that probably should have been explained in The Force Awakens (where the dynamic between the two conflicting groups really doesn't make sense unless you leap to a few conclusions), but at least it's being explained somewhere. That it's being explained in a novel and not the next movie suggests that Rian Johnson has bigger things to deal with in the actual film.

And that brings us back to where we begin. Heddle reveals that "some of the story ideas and elements in this novel came straight from Rian Johnson," which suggests a close connection between whatever occurs in Episode 8 and the events of Bloodline. Considering that The Force Awakens left Snoke and the details of his relationship to Kylo Ren a big mystery, it's starting to feel like Episode 8 will explore that dynamic...and that Johnson was called in to make sure this book aligned with what he was already planning to put on the screen. But that's just spitballing on my part.

In any case, it's starting to sound like I'll need to give Star Wars: Bloodline a read. I've heard good things about Gray's previous Star Wars book, Lost Stars, but the awful Star Wars: Aftermath really put a pin in my enthusiasm for fully committing to all of the new books. Just when I thought I was out, Lucasfilm pulls me back in.