The in-canon Star Wars novel Aftermath: Life Debt was released today, and author Chuck Wendig has now gone from someone I follow on Twitter to someone I should probably send a promotional kitten basket to, because he just keeps bringing us awesome things with this book. First, we were getting new details about evil space ginger General Hux, then we learned why Chewbacca owes a life debt to Han Solo in the new canon, and now Wendig just made me yell “YAAASSSS QUEEN” because Princess — oops, General — Leia can use the force, and does.
Although there were examples of Leia using the force in the Expanded Universe, that’s no longer canon. Evidence of her having force sensitivity in the current canon was more vague. In the official novelization for Return Of The Jedi, there’s a passage where she “reached out” to “reassure Luke she was all right” which could have been the force or just those magic powers twins have. (Twins have magic powers, right? Ha ha, science.) In Empire Strikes Back, she senses Luke needs help in Cloud City. In the novelizations of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (spoilers), she seems to sense both the destruction of the Hosnian system and the death of her husband.
J.J. Abrams has said she could use the force and just chooses not to. But in Aftermath: Life Debt, a situation arises where she makes that choice. As a deleted scene with Maz Kanata showed, you don’t have to join the Jedi Knights to use the force. Screen Rant explains: