Star Wars: Phasma is one of a series of books that is supposed to help us bridge the gap into The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. They call them Journey to the Last Jedi, but given that Princess of Alderaan explores Leia’s early years, parts of them at least are set prior to the original trilogy. The Journey set includes Bloodline, about Leia’s struggles to organize the New Republic, and the birth of the First Order. It also includes Legends of Luke Skywalker, but as that is actually billed as legends and tall-tales told about Luke, and not necessarily true stories, I’m less inclined to read it.
Back to Phasma! So far, all we’ve seen of Phasma was the enigmatic Storm Trooper Captain, in chrome armor, powering down the shields when forced to in The Force Awakens. We never even saw her face. (Gwendolyn Christie had a wonderful opinion on why her face wasn’t shown, in an interview with Stephen Colbert the other night. You can watch the video below.)
So in the novel, we learn Phasma’s true origins. The story is told via a framework – a Resistance spy, Vi Moradi, is captured by Captain Cardinal, Phasma’s chief rival within the First Order. He forces her to tell him all she knows about Phasma, which she does, because it’s not info directly about The Resistance, and she’s hoping to turn him to her side. Phasma’s life began on a once thriving planet that had been decimated about 150 years before her birth by some force. (I don’t want to reveal too many surprises, and this book is full of them!) One of her old tribemates told the entire story of Phasma’s youth, rise to power in the tribe, and eventual escape from the planet to Moradi. It’s a story of survival at all costs, and illustrates just how good Phasma is at it.
I rather hope we see Captain Cardinal in The Last Jedi, as he grew on me even as he was interrogating Moradi. He goes from loyal First Order soldier with a grudge against Phasma to a conflicted man who’s beginning to see how much he’s been brainwashed. It’s intriguing to read. The revelation that The First Order rewards the ruthless while overlooking those who play by its own rules also breaks him a little bit.
I really enjoyed this book, and I will definitely be picking up Bloodline and Princess of Alderaan, because I can never get enough Leia. If you’re not a Star Wars fan, I’d definitely take a pass on this book, because it won’t really mean anything. But as a fan, it’s a fascinating look at the beginnings of a villain.
(If you’re interested in more Star Wars, I have also read and reviewed Ahsoka, by E. K. Johnston.)
From the cover of Star Wars: Phasma:
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.