Right out of the gate, Delilah Dawson (author’s real name: Herman T. Sweizenbaum, so you can see why he went with the sexier pen name of Delilah) creates a nice sense of mystery. It’s one person with a secret, and another person trying to get that secret. The story within a story works to create two levels of tension, and it’s a nice way to up the ante by switching back and forth between each one at moments of suspense.
Here’s the premise: a resistance (good guys) spy is captured by a First Order (bad guys) captain, and made to reveal what she knows about the mysterious Captain Phasma. The resistance fighter tells a story about how Phasma came in contact with the First Order on her homeworld of Parnassos. Everything Phasma had to do to survive and overcome while growing up to become the badass adult she is now.
What follows is a road trip tale about Phasma and her band of motley warriors traversing the planet of Parnassos, and the trials and tribulations along the way. Dawson manages to infuse the story with bits about income inequality, civil disobedience, and loyalty vs. opportunity as they fight and struggle. Not in a heavy-handed way, which I appreciate. Stories that hit you over the head with the message grow old very quickly.
At times, as with all Star Wars novels, there are bits that seem anachronistic or out of place. When a character refers to “drawing the short straw,” you have to exercise some suspension of disbelief. Yes, it doesn’t seem natural that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, they would have developed that exact same idiom we use on Earth. But, if the locally-equivalent phrase “flip the Gleeblox backward” were used instead, then the author would have to spend some time explaining WTF that means, and it also takes you out of the story. It’s best just to forgive the little earth-sayings and move on.
One thing this novel does that I like is it finally explains something from The Force Awakens I’ve never been able to understand. I’ll try to explain this plot point without using any spoilers, so here goes:
Near the end of TFA, Phasma does something terribly selfish, and it has puzzled me ever since. This book, while not providing a direct motive for her behavior, does a good enough job of explaining the kind of person Phasma is, that I feel like I now do understand. I feel satisfied.
That was pretty vague, wasn’t it? It’s either that or spoil the whole book. Sorry, ain’t gonna do it.
All in all, it’s a good story with some nice twists, and while it doesn’t provide any new answers for the Skywalker saga, it’s an interesting tale all on its own. Not as compelling as Star Wars Bloodline, but recommended anyway. It’s just a shame they couldn’t figure out how to use her character more in The Last Jedi.