Book Review: Star Wars: Phasma
By Delilah S. Dawson and Del Rey Books
Warning: This book review may contain spoilers for those that have not read Star Wars: Phasma.
Back cover excerpt:
A real Stormtrooper has no room for sympathy.
A real Stormtrooper is the extension of the First Order…
One of the most cunning and merciless officers of the First Order, Captain Phasma commands the favor of her superiors, the respect of her peers, and the terror of her enemies. But for all her renown, Phasma remains as unknowable as the impassive expression on her gleaming chrome helmet. Now an adversary is bent on unearthing her mysterious origins–and exposing a secret she guards as zealously and ruthlessly as she serves her masters.
Deep inside the battle cruiser Absolution, a captured Resistance spy endures brutal interrogation at the hands of Cardinal, a crimson-armed stormtrooper. But the information he desires has nothing to do with the Resistance or its covert operations against the First Order.
What the mysterious stormtrooper wants is Phasma’s past–and with it whatever long-buried scandal, treachery, or private demons he can wield against the hated rival who threatens his power and privilege in the ranks of the First Order. Though his prisoner has what Cardinal so desperately seeks, she won’t surrender it easily. As she wages a painstaking war of wills with her captor, bargaining for her life in exchange for every precious revelation, the spellbinding chronicle of the inscrutable Phasma unfolds. But this knowledge may prove more than just dangerous once Cardinal possess it–and once his adversary unleashes the full measure of her fury.
Delilah S. Dawson is the author that gave us the suspenseful and intense short-story, “Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon.” And now, she has taken her first steps into a larger world by completing her first full-length Star Wars novel, Phasma. Thanks to Delilah and her amazing talents, we now have a background story that takes us behind the shiny mask, and into the intriguing origin of the mysterious, and formidable Captain Phasma.
Phasma is the Star Wars equivalent to Mad Max: Fury Road. Well, I recall Thunderdome. Still, the same concept. Right down to the mystic, but gross “oracle salve.” How does anyone think that rubbing bodily fluids from the recently deceased all over your body is a good thing? Sorry, just eww.
But before I divulge more on Phasma and her odd ways, let’s start at the beginning of the story with our introduction to Vi Moradi. After all, she is the one telling the story of Phasma. And it’s one helluva story.
Vi is a Resistance spy and in the very beginning of our story receives a direct order from General Organa to check out a suspicious sector for signs of the First Order. Unfortunately for Vi, the results are a bit more than problematic. Having her ship boarded is one thing, but being held captive by the First Order is another.
Still, Vi is good at her job. She’s one of the best spies the Resistance has, and she’s not one to cave under pressure. In fact, she feeds off of it. And that’s not a good thing for her captor, Captain Cardinal. You see, he wants information. And not just any information, he wants specific information. Information that Vi Moradi carries in her eidetic memory. Captain Cardinal wants the incriminating backstory of his adversary, Captain Phasma.
On Parnassos, (Approximately) 15 Years Ago
In the beginning, Phasma and her brother were barely surviving with her parents and extended family. Parnassos wasn’t a friendly place, and the environment was only getting harsher. Their parents were getting older and weaker, and the animals were dying off. So, Phasma took matters into her own hands. She made a decision and didn’t dare share it with any of them. Phasma had a plan that would guarantee her and her brother, Keldo, security. Only, her plan came with a hefty cost. Death.
Phasma took a poisoned blade and stabbed her only brother in the leg. He had no choice but to lose the leg to an amputation. But she didn’t stop there, no. Phasma then allowed the Scyre Folk to slaughter her entire family. After which, she forced her brother into joining the Scyre’s and then painted their faces with their dead parent’s bodily fluids.
Still with me? Good.
It doesn’t take long for Phasma and Keldo to move up the ranks within the Scyre Clan. In fact, they formulate a plot to take down the leader and uphold the mantle as ruler. Both of them, brother and sister rule the Scyre Folk. Well, for a while anyway.
One thing we learn early on is that Phasma’s always planning. And having two people rule is bound to have its share of friction.
Friction comes the moment Phasma spots Brendol Hux’s falling ship. She sees it as another shot at something bigger and better. But first, she has to survive. And she’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that. Even kill if she has to.
Keldo, her brother, feels it’s best to leave well enough alone. In other words, only the known is safe. Venturing out of their sector makes them vulnerable. But, like life, Phasma finds a way.
Operation “Brendol Hux”
General Brendol Hux was the beginning of a series of events that reacted like a domino effect. And Phasma welcomed every ounce of it. But not everyone was as optimistic or as welcoming as Phasma. Of course, no one else was “like” Phasma. Cunning and merciless. And Brendol Hux caught onto that almost instantaneously. And so, the journey to General Hux’s fallen starship begins Phasma and her hand-picked warriors in tow.
Siv, the one who restores the essence of her people within the “oracle salve,” is quietly observing Phasma’s metamorphosis. Each change is silently notated and stored in her mind as the journey’s danger increases. And more lives are lost.
They stumble upon a Con Star Mining Corporation filled to the capacity with slave-driven droids. And then into a battle arena where the most barbaric fights are the people’s way of entertainment to avoid their impending starvation. Phasma, to no avail, is always the victor. No matter the obstacle, she comes out on top. Not unscathed, but she prevails. That said, her fight for survival becomes visibly unorthodox.
The Churkk and Rite of Passage
As the nonconformist group of Scyre folk and First Order soldiers reach their final hurdle before making it to their destination, they encounter the Churkk. A sort of oracle or a rite of passage. It reminded me of The Never Ending Story. Only those who have a pure heart can pass through.
The Oracle, the Churkk, is full of knowledge. It tells them of a sickness that encases the land beyond its barrier. A sickness that will plague them if they pass and they will perish. The group does not heed the warning and continues onward. Siv, the protector of their oracle salve, takes one glance back at the Churkk to thank him before following Phasma through the fence. It tells her and only her: “When the time comes, keep walking.”
Phasma is Merciless
Killing is bad enough, but killing one of your own, and tossing them aside like hazardous waste is inhumane. And that is Phasma. She has no room for sympathy.
When the First Order arrives to rescue General Brendol Hux and his stormtroopers, Phasma shows her true colors. She leaves Siv behind to face the elements of the sickness alone. Phasma takes Frey, the only surviving child from the Scyre Folk, and gives her to the First Order. And so, Siv is left alone. But she remembers what the Churkk said, and she begins to walk.
Phasma kills and rises to power. Nothing stops her. She is a real stormtrooper and nothing less. And General Brendol Hux finds out the hard way. Phasma can’t afford to have her secrets of the past be known. So, the answer to her is simple. Her secrets have to die and those that know along with them.
And there you have it, the Phasma facts. Like Captain Cardinal, these are the hideous secrets of Phasma’s origin and mystique that we all are dying to know. Yes, dying, the pun is intentional. Because if Phasma knows you know her secrets, you will die.
Thanks to Del Rey Publishing for providing us with a copy of Star Wars: Phasma for review purposes.
Star Wars: Phasma is available in hardcover, Kindle edition, and also available from Penguin Random House Audio.