Review by C.J. Bunce
In her debut in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Captain Phasma was an enigma, the latest of the uniquely costumed bad guys in the Star Wars universe, following in a line that progressed from Darth Maul to General Grievous, Count Dooku, and Darth Vader in the prequels, and later into Director Krennic and Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One, and Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels. In Delilah S. Dawson’s new novel, Star Wars: Phasma, Phasma finally gets the spotlight. Readers learn about her backstory through an interrogation of a Resistance spy working for General Leia Organa, by yet another aspiring Imperial/First Order warrior, Captain Cardinal.
The spy, Vi Moradi, is pressed to provide Cardinal with damning information to help him bring down Phasma with the current leader, General Armitage Hux, son of General Brendol Hux, the leader who ushered both Cardinal and Phasma from their primitive worlds to train the future warriors of the First Order. Dawson tells this story as a play on A Thousand and One Nights, where the reader is compelled to wonder whether the information is true or that the end will be of the Keyser Söze variety. Moradi reveals a story of Phasma’s rise to power among a tribe on the planet Parnassos, and her discovery by Brendol Hux when his ship crashes on the planet and his emergency escape pod leaves him and his Stormtroopers far from the wreckage and any chance to communicate back to the First Order for assistance.
Phasma’s story will be most familiar to readers of the Star Wars universe novel Thrawn (reviewed here earlier at borg.com). Both Phasma and Thrawn literally battled their way to the top. Those familiar with the third trilogy novels will find an interesting parallel in the selection of the stories released leading up to the new canon films, including Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel centered on the feud between Krennic, Tarkin, and Galen Erso, and Tarkin, introducing readers to Tarkin’s confrontations with Darth Vader. Star Wars: Phasma has much in common with the Star Wars Rebels prequel novel A New Dawn, and indeed Vi Moradi would fit in well with the crew of the Ghost. Dawson pits Cardinal against Phasma like the Emperor pitted Anakin Skywalker against Grievous and Dooku, continuing some consistency from earlier Star Wars stories.
Phasma is unlike the other Imperial/First Order characters because of her masked face and her unique chrome Stormtrooper armor with the blood-red cape trim. This gives her a Boba Fett quality–the cool character that never seems to take center stage, a hidden face we cannot read, but unfortunately a character who also never gets to come out on top in the end.
Although it is released as a “Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi” story, Star Wars: Phasma is set just before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Dawson pulls in science fiction concepts from the era just before Star Wars: A New Hope--elements readers may find from Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, and Beneath the Planet of the Apes. It doesn’t seem like we’ll have a chance at meeting Captain Cardinal, the red armored First Order officer who we learn the most about in the novel, although he could appear in the films. Teased in the novel is the possibility that Brendol Hux is not dead yet, but he seems an unlikely candidate for Supreme Leader Snoke.
If you’re a fan of the Star Wars tie-in novels, you won’t want to miss this look into Captain Phasma as you wait for next month’s release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which will again feature Gwendoline Christie dawning the chrome armor again as the First Order trainer of First Order soldier turned Resistance fighter Finn. Star Wars: Phasma is available now here at Amazon.