Book Review: Phasma

  • Author: Delilah S. Dawson
  • 457 pages
  • Published 2017
  • Canon
  • Placement in Timeline: Just before The Last Jedi

What It’s About:

Vi Moradi is a Resistance spy on her way back from a mission when she’s captured by the First Order–specifically, red-armored Captain Cardinal, who has his own personal reasons for wanting to interrogate her.

Cardinal is searching for damning information about his rival, Captain Phasma, intel that Vi just so happens to have.

Cardinal secretly interrogates her in the bowels of his ship, the Absolution; the usual by-the-book Captain is breaking First Order rules for a personal vendetta against the mysterious, idolized Phasma. He’s looking for information that will destroy her, and wants to present the evidence to General Hux at a meeting that will take place the next day.

Vi, an experienced spy, treads carefully, balancing the need to string Cardinal along long enough to keep her alive, but without angering him enough that he zaps her again with the torture device she’s strapped into and possibly killing her.

The result is the story of Phasma, which she’s learned from someone named Siv, who knew Phasma on their home planet of Parnassos.

Vi tells the story over a period of hours, drawing Cardinal into the story. The chapters alternate between scenes on the Absolution and scenes on Parnassos ten years before.

Apparently Parnassos had been devastated by some kind of disaster, perhaps hundreds of years ago, that left most of the planet unlivable. Whatever civilization that had been there was destroyed; the survivors barely kept themselves alive in the punishing landscape left behind.

Phasma lived with a group of people on a rocky piece of land near the sea called the Scyre. The people of the Scyre worked together to survive, and skilled warriors within the group protected them from a neighboring clan called the Claws. Phasma was the leader of these warriors, while her brother Keldo was the leader of the Scyre.

One day, they saw what looked like a star falling from the sky. They knew it was a ship, as they’d seen them before, and made plans to find it and salvage what they could. Phasma went with some hand-picked warriors.

When they approached Claw territory, they found the rival clan had met with survivors of the ship–General Brendol Hux and three stormtroopers.

It was this meeting with Brendol–Captain Cardinal’s former superior officer–that set Phasma on the road to her destiny. It’s a road filled with struggle, violence, betrayal, and suffering. It’s also the key to what Cardinal is so desperately looking for.

My Thoughts:

I love books that have a story-within-a-story, and I was drawn into Vi’s telling of Phasma’s history as Cardinal was, wanting to know more about the enigmatic character. I’m not particularly fascinated with her, but I did enjoy learning about her past and where she came from, because we know virtually nothing about her from the movies.

I thought the book was very well-constructed, with the alternating chapters between Vi on the Absolution and Parnassos in the past. I thought the dynamic between Vi and her captor, Cardinal, was interesting, and how each one of them attempted to read and anticipate the other’s actions and reactions, the psychology going on between torturer and tortured, and how Cardinal’s motivations and essential nature were revealed with each chapter.

As for Phasma and her story, she is viewed and interpreted at a remove, with Vi telling the story through one of Phasma’s warrior’s eyes, Siv. So even in her own story, Phasma remains mysterious and unreadable. But over the course of the book one thing becomes very clear: Phasma is determined to survive, and will do whatever she must to do it, ruthlessly and without remorse. Which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

If you love Phasma, or are just interested in a well-written book about her backstory, this is the book for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5 lightsabers

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