Phasma is a novel written by Delilah S. Dawson which was released on September 1, 2017, as a part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi marketing campaign. The novel centers around Resistance spy Vi Moradi and First Order captain Cardinal, and it reveals the origins and motivations of Captain Phasma.
Publisher’s Summary: Discover Captain Phasma’s mysterious history in this “Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi” novel.
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 virtually unknown 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 Battlecruiser Absolution, a captured Resistance spy endures brutal interrogation at the hands of a crimson-armored stormtrooper—Cardinal. 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 own power and privilege in the ranks of the First Order. His prisoner has what Cardinal so desperately seeks, but 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 possesses it—and once his adversary unleashes the full measure of her fury.
Review: This book was not what I was expecting. I thought that it would be told from Phasma’s point of view, and instead, it is told from the point of view of Vi Moradi, a Resistance spy, and Cardinal, a First Order stormtrooper. Through Vi’s storytelling, we get the point of view of Siv, one of Phasma’s fellow members of a band called the Scyre on the planet of Parnassos. (And when I say band I don’t mean like a musical band. It’s like a tribe.)
Siv’s and Cardinal’s points of view are thoroughly interesting, while Vi’s point of view is not as chocked full of information about her or the Resistance as much as it is about her storytelling giving us Siv’s point of view. We learn that Vi has a brother and that she reports directly to General Leia Organa, but we don’t learn much else besides that when it comes to her role in the Resistance. She is obviously very well informed about the subject of her mission, talking about video footage from First Order ships that she shouldn’t have seen and knowing details about the way the First Order does things that surprises Cardinal.
Cardinal, meanwhile, gives us a lot of personal information, particularly when it comes to his feelings towards Phasma and her place in the First Order, and his desperation to find some sort of information to bring her down. He’s not above torturing Vi to get what he wants, but he comes to realize that he’ll get more information out of her if he doesn’t, and as the stories are revealed, his facade as an emotionless stormtrooper goes away and a real person emerges. You begin to really feel for Cardinal, and when the confrontation with Phasma happens at the end, you are really invested in how Cardinal is going to come out of it.
But the most interesting point of view is Siv’s. Of course, this is the storytelling that Vi does, and it does include comments from her every once and a while, but Siv is the narrator of these stories, and through her, a picture of Phasma begins to be woven. Phasma was the most fearsome warrior of the Scyre, and Siv was one of her fellow warriors. When the ship of Brendol Hux, father of General Armitage Hux (who is portrayed by Domnhall Gleeson in the Star Wars feature films), crashes to the surface of Parnassos, his coming is seen by Phasma to be the saving grace of her people, who barely survive on rock spires with little water and food. This thought is opposed by her brother Keldo, Phasma’s fellow leader of the Scyre, and it tears the two apart. Phasma and her warriors leave with Brendol and his stormtroopers to find his ship and leave Parnassos for a better life in the stars, and the journey they go on is filled with moments of peril, action, excitement, despair, and you begin to see Phasma grow into the cold, calculating Phasma that I found her to be in Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens and some of the subsequent canon material. But I also cared for Siv and for many other members of the warriors that traveled with Phasma, and the end of Siv’s story was both sad and poignant and yet there was a tiny bit of hope.
This s a phenomenal read if you’re a Star Wars fan. It is extremely well written, and vivid as well, the descriptions Delilah S. Dawson used bringing up imagery in my head to accompany the scenes. The story weaved together beautifully, Dawson titling each chapter with where it was taking place in the timeline, either in the present on the Star Destroyer Absolution or ten years previous on Parnassos, so I was never confused about where I was in the storyline.
Recommendation: Highly recommended, particularly if you’re interested in Captain Phasma as a character. She was so mysterious coming into and out of The Force Awakens, and this book answers the question of who she was and how she became who she is. The story will keep you interested from the beginning until the end, and it’s a very easy read.