It’s time for my second book review of 2018. And I’m continuing on with my journey into Star Wars with the book ‘Phasma’. Released late last year as part of the ‘Journey To The Last Jedi’ series, Phasma chronicles the story of how Phasma came to join the First Order. Written by Delilah S. Dawson, it’s the first book I’ve read by the author. I’ve loved everything else I’ve read in the ‘Journey To The Last Jedi’ series but does ‘Phasma’ continue this trend? In short – no.
Please note – there are spoilers behind this point.
An introduction to the story. Resistance spy Vi Moradi is captured by Captain Cardinal of the First Order. He is desperate for intel on Phasma, intel that he can use to destroy her position within the First Order. Moradi tells Cardinal a story she was told by Siv, a former friend of Phasma from their home world of Parnassos. What transpires is a back and forth between present time and Phasma’s past on Parnassos, a setup which ultimately kills the story.
It’s not that the story that Moradi tells Cardinal is bad but the setup just doesn’t work. Cardinal needs intel on Phasma and what transpires is a long winded story that does the exact opposite. We learn of Phasma’s clan, how she met First Order’s Brendol Hux and how she helped him escape Parnassos. But none of this is actually relevant to the premise. We learn more about Phasma and the person she is – calculating, cold and loyal to no-one but herself but nothing that justifies this story being told. If I was Cardinal, I would have despatched Moradi for wasting my time. There were more than a few times where I considered giving up on this book. I felt like it was going nowhere. Perhaps if the story had been told as it happened as opposed to all the back and forth, I would have enjoyed the story.
The story covers a lot of themes – loyalty, survival and family. Dawson does a good job of conveying these themes throughout but a lot of the plot points just seem awfully convenient. Brendol Hux has the fever and they just happen to come across a station with healing facilities in the middle of the desert? Despite the huge difficulties Phasma and her warriors face reaching Hux’s ship, her brother, who only has one leg suddenly appears with their clan (including old people) out of nowhere for revenge? I mean, come on!
In terms of character development, there was only one character I really became invested in and that was Siv. It’s her story that is being told. But infuriatingly, we don’t know what happens to Siv in the end. When I finished the last chapter, I actually went back and looked for a chapter I had missed. Did Moradi reach Siv and take her away from Parnassos or did Phasma find her and eliminate her? It’s a very abrupt end and I feel a bit cheated if I’m honest.
The author Delilah S.Dawson has stated in interviews that she watched a lot of Mad Max while working on this novel. And it shows. This is not a Star Wars story that we’re used to. There’s no technology, no lightsabers – instead it’s savage and at times quite gory. It’s not something that I personally feel fits within the Star Wars universe. When I read Star Wars books, I often imagine what they’d be like if they were films. And this doesn’t fit the Star Wars brand in my opinion. It’s too aggressive.
I wanted to enjoy this book a lot because I wanted to learn more about Phasma. I’ve come away not liking Phasma although you aren’t really meant to – she is one of the bad guys after all. But I don’t feel like I really learned anything new about Phasma. She’s powerful, she’s ruthless and she will eliminate anyone who stands in her way. But didn’t we already know that. I’m not sure why this book was included in the ‘Journey to the Last Jedi’ series because nothing here is relevant to the events of The Last Jedi. It’s a pity that a potential fantastic character has such an uninteresting origin story.
If you’d like to buy ‘Star Wars: Phasma’, you can do so at Waterstones.