Star Wars: Phasma

             review by Michael Fraley

Leading up to The Force Awakens, one of the most intriguing new characters was without a doubt Captain Phasma.  She looked absolutely badass in her glistening chrome armor and flowing shoulder cape.  Add in the fact that Brienne of Tarth herself, Qwendoline Christie, was the face behind that armor, and fans had no reason not to expect Phasma to be an exciting new addition to the Star Wars galaxy.  And then came the movie…

            To say Phasma was underutilized would be putting it mildly.  With just about 90 seconds of screen time and four of five total lines, she was easily comparable to Boba Fett in Return of the Jedi.  Huge build up, zero execution.  Hopefully,all of that is about to change. Coming later this year, there is a comic series following Phasma from the trash compactor on Starkiller Base to the events of The Last Jedi, but up first is the novel Phasma, written by Delilah S Dawson that hopefully sheds some light on the woman behind the chrome helmet.

            Let me start by saying, this book isn’t what I expected it to be, and I’m not sure it’s what I wanted it to be.  The story of Phasma is told by Vi Moradi, a Resistance spy, to Crimson, one of the original orphans brought from Jakku to become the first warriors for the First Order.  Crimson is the only stormtrooper besides Phasma to have a name, and he also sports a bright red version of the armor Phasma wears.  Crimson is upset that Phasma was brought in and quickly made his equal.  He also feels she’s somehow responsible for the death of his mentor, Brendol Hux, father of Armitage Hux, our favorite First Order ginger.  When Vi’s ship is captured, Crimson secrets her away and interrogates her to get the truth about Phasma that Vi has uncovered on Phasma’s homeworld of Parnassos.

The story we’re told of Phasma is from ten years earlier and takes place on Parnassos.  The area of Parnassos Phasma grew up on was a desolate wasteland.  Her people lived on a small stretch of land with a cave they could only enter at certain times when the tides of the ocean permitted.  They were dying slowly due to the atmosphere and lack of food and water.  Another tribe lived close by, and the two often quarreled over what little each had.  Phasma and her crippled brother were the leaders of their tribe and made an uneasy truce with their attackers, but all of that changed when they watched Brendol Hux’s ship fall from the sky, and Phasma decides to take it upon herself to get to the ship first, in hopes that the technology aboard can somehow save her people.

            Phasma is a deadly warrior, but she is also a fast learner and a fierce leader.  Her warriors know to never question her decisions and watch for her to make the first move and the  follow her lead.  When she meets Hux, sees his troopers in their resplendent white armor, and hears about the regiment and training of the First Order, she knows this is the life she was meant for.  As the group consisting of her select warriors and Hux with his three troopers trek across the unforgiving wasteland, we watch Phasma change and learn.  She starts to spend more time with Hux and rarely talks about her plans with her people.  They start to become pawns in her quest to get to Hux’s ship first and claim this new life she covets.

            Aside from learning about Phasma, we also get to learn a little more about the First Order.  Crimson, who was once in charge of training all of the new recruits, now shares that duty with Phasma.  He gets the orphan children as they are brought in and indoctrinates them in the beliefs and ways of the First Order.  Once they reach a certain age and have shown themselves as capable warriors, they are transferred to Phasma and trained to be killers.  Brendol Hux continuously imparts the beliefs of the First Order to Phasma and her group as they travel together.  Through him, we are told of the ways the First Order plans to bring order back to the galaxy.

            I really don’t want to give too much away here because, although the book wasn’t what I wanted or expected, it’s very good.  I came away knowing exactly who Phasma is and why she moved so quickly up the ranks of the First Order.  We learn how she got her chrome armor,and if the movies follow the rules set forth in the book, we learn why we will never see her face on the screen.  Crimson is an intriguing character.  We actually met him as a child in the Aftermath trilogy.  It was interesting to see how much he had changed in the years since leaving Jakku with Brendol Hux and Rae Sloane.

            Definately pick this book up.  Though I had hoped to learn more about Phasma in the First Order, I think the way the story is told gives us everything we truly need to know, while leaving a little mystery for fan theories and conjecture.  Hopefully over the next two films, we will get to see the brutal warrior we see in this book.  It would be a completely wasted opportunity if she continues to be a background character that sells action figures because she looks really cool.  Maybe the upcoming comic series will lend a greater light to her time in the First Order.  Either way, at least Phasma fans finally get to see her in action.

            Phasma is written by Delilah S Dawson and published by Del Rey books.  It available this week everywhere.

Four out of five stars (only because I wanted more First Order time!)

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