With The Last Jedi hitting cinemas at the end of the year, the build up has officially begun. Fan favourite, chrome Stormtrooper Captain Phasma, is leading the charge too. As well as a comic explaining how she escaped from Starkiller Base at the end of The Force Awakens, her origin is revealed in this new novel. And Delilah S Dawson knocks it out of the park from page one.
The story is told in flashback by resistance spy Vi. Captured by the First Order, Vi is interrogated by Cardinal, who runs the Stormtrooper training program. Or did, until Phasma arrived. Now Cardinal’s job is to bring the new recruits aboard while Phasma’s is to turn the frightened children into hardened killers.
Cardinal hates her for taking half his kingdom. He also hates her, Vi suspects, because he may not be as loyal as he thinks…
Dawson uses this counterpoint brilliantly to explore Phasma not just as an iconic figure but as a person. Over the course of this novel we find out how she was recruited, her relationship to General Hux and the origin of her iconic armour. But there’s much more going on here than a tick list of narrative beats.
Instead, Dawson uses Phasma’s nightmarish past on a post-apocalyptic world largely forgotten by the New Republic to explore what happens when all you know how to do is survive. She paints Phasma as relentless and resourceful – caring for the people around her until the capacity to extend that care to self-sacrifice is burnt away. Phasma survives by doing anything to anyone to ensure that, and the novel is at it’s best when it explores both that and her relationship with others. She’s physically gifted, instinctively brilliant and utterly restricted. The First Order don’t just offer a job they offer her a chance to become who she was destined to be. The price she pays for that is total, and she pays it without a second’s hesitation.
And yet she’s completely admirable for all that. Seen, in flashback, through the eyes of Siv, a friend, Phasma is one part Furiosa and one part Iago. She’s ruthless but clearly feels for her tribe members. Phasma is a heroine when she has to be and her relentless determination, intelligence and loyalty could so easily have been forged into something truly good. The fact the First Order got to her first, and subtle hints Dawson drops along the way suggest that may still be possible too…
The novel is as relentless as it’s lead. Brutal, gripping, inventive and full of carefully orchestrated reveals that all work perfectly, it’s a brilliant addition to the new Star Wars canon. A formidable story about a formidable soldier. The Captain would expect nothing less.
Release: Out Now
Formats: Ebook & Hardback
RRP: £9.99 (Ebook), £20.00 (Hardback)