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Phasma (Star Wars): Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi Hardcover – September 1, 2017
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“Fury Road meets The Force Awakens . . . a much-needed origin story of one for the new Star Wars saga’s most mysterious characters.”—The Verge
“Captain Phasma is the badass warrior that we all expected her to be.”—Forces of Geek
“Dark, gripping, and entertaining.”—Roqoo Depot
“Fabulous, utterly engrossing.”—Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Delilah S. Dawson is the writer of the Blud series, the Shadow series (as Lila Bowen), Servants of the Storm, Hit, Strike, and a variety of short stories and comics. Dawson teaches writing courses online for LitReactor and lives in Florida with her family.
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Unfortunately, while I always enjoy seeing and reading (when I can) new Star Wars novels, the selection of newly canonized material hasn't really matched the excitement in reality that my hope had reached when first hearing the news. "A New Dawn" seemed unlike most of John Jackson Miller's work, which made sense since I had heard that a consultation group had been formed at Disney to ensure these new canonized books stayed within the larger strategy of books, movies, TV shows, etc. It was weak, in comparison. It lacked characters, even though they've gone on to be expanded in the TV show "Rebels," about whom I cared. It's a hard thing to say, but it bored me.
"Tarkin," "Heir to the Jedi" and "Bloodline" have gone on to improve the thread of stories surrounding the original trilogy, prequels and TV shows, but after reading Delilah S. Dawson's novel "Phasma," which tells the detailed and disturbing origin of the First Order's Captain Phasma, I feel like Disney has finally gotten into the right rhythm with its larger strategy.
Without causing an argument about how much of a rip-off "The Force Awakens" might have been of the original "Star Wars,' (later "A New Hope"), one thing that always bothered me about Episode VII is that the marketing around it heavily included Captain Phasma. As I type this review, I'm looking at a Captain Phasma Funko Pop, as well as two large movie cups from Cinemark and a special pair of 3D glasses, all in the image of Captain Phasma...a character with very little impact in Episode VII and about 5 minutes worth of screen time. Was he greater backstory cut from the film because there was just too much to tell? This lingering issue agitated me until yesterday.
Because I've been intrigued by Phasma since first seeing her picture in magazines and trailers, I was surprised and further intrigued by the fact that Disney was releasing a full-on Phasma novel as part of the "Journey to the Last Jedi," similar to the Episode VII novels that came out giving added weight and backstory to characters like Finn and Poe, characters featured prominently in "The Force Awakens." Does this mean Phasma actually plays a larger role in Episode VIII? Well, considering a comic book series is also being released, but guess is yes!
So, naturally, because I own every other Star Wars novel written, I was at my local Barnes & Noble on Force Friday II purchasing a copy of "Phasma." I'd already seen the ominous cover, so it didn't take much for me to crack it open Friday evening around 5:30 PM. By 10:00 AM Saturday morning, I'd read all 378 pages. I couldn't put it down. Delilah, who wrote her first Star Wars vignette, "The Perfect Weapon," my favorite from the pre-Episode VII onslaught of books and stories, also was given the charge to form the entire backstory of Captain Phasma. And it does not disappoint. Not for one. single. second.
Phasma is brutal. Vindictive. Pure evil. And she is exactly why the First Order troops make original trilogy-era Stormtroopers seem like kids on a pre-school playground. Delilah masterfully writes her origin around a connection to Episode VII, even the prequels, and, presuming, Episode VIII, which screams why the Extended Universe should have always been canon. Having these extra stories and building blocks of characters in these films and TV shows can only happen in books like "Phasma." Unlike many of the often weakly-written Star Wars novels, Delilah crafts what could be the script for a movie in an of itself. I didn't want it to end. And for a character that many call the "Jar-Jar" of Episode VII, this novel positions Phasma to be a devastating component of the rest of this trilogy. If not, it will have been a waste.
The story of how she comes to join the First Order, her foundation for why she was chosen to lead the troopers, and even how she gets her chrome armor, are such deep insights peppered throughout "Phasma" and add strength to whom this woman will become. There isn't a lull in this story at all. And while these details all add to how she is who we know her to be today, the magic of the writing in this book is the fact that it is an impactful narrative around how she influences, manipulates and lies to the people around her; her selfish corruption from minute one. The insight we get into her psyche through writing is similar to the style of the writing about Darth Maul's psyche in the novel "Lockdown."
The beauty of the Star Wars world is that there is an equal amount of interest in the heroic deeds, courage and bravery of the good guys, than there is in the catalyst for corruption and evil in the bad guys. I get just as much excitement watching Luke blow up the Death Star as I did seeing Darth Vader slash open numerous Rebel troops at the end of "Rogue One." It's also probably why there are so many complaints about the prequels. Anakin's turn to the dark side, in the movies, was so poorly written and acted that something that had the potential to be emotionally-charging film did nothing more than collectively make its audience whimper and sigh. Luckily, novels like "Phasma" can add weight to these new characters and help us see the films in a different light. I know I'm going to watch Episode VII this week with different eyes about Phasma and, I'm sure, be foaming at the mouth as to how she impacts Episode VIII.