Wednesday, 27 September 2017
EPISODE VIII: CHROME EVIL - THE RETURN OF 'PHASMA'!
Ruthlessly efficient in her physicality and practicality, not afraid to do what's necessary for the continuance of the First Order with whom she has thrived as a cold-hearted leader in bringing death, chaos, destruction and her own form of nihilistic self-belief and revenge against such creation failing to conform to her power base beliefs, the tall and intimidating silver armoured warrior Captain Phasma, played by the charismatic Gwendoline Christie, will return for The Last Jedi, and looks set to be more brutal and uncompromising than ever, utilising a new slickly murderous staff weapon that has started to appear in merchandise tie-ins/publicity. With this adventure, we may even see her in drama and action without the helmet on...
Proving herself an adept writing player for the STAR WARS universe with the novella The Perfect Weapon, Delilah S. Dawson was a worthy selection choice to pen a full novel in the lead-up to EPISODE VIII. To have been given the genuinely plum assignment of charting the origins of Phasma, a unique member of the canon, must have been the incredible icing to the celebratory cake of being a part of LUCAS BOOKS and the thriving Lucasfilm Story Team. Out now in UK hardback from Century, Phasma, which has much interconnecting tissue with Chuck Wendig's prior Aftermath saga, has received acclaim, but I have to say it proved the most unintentionally disappointing of reads to this reviewer, from someone who was keenly looking forward to it as part of the 2017 line-up. Dawson's plotting and writing is certainly deft and readable, and the book's main framing device is intriguing, as the crimson First Order commander Cardinal, the most respected and strangely noble soldier of this evil empire when it comes to warfare and the training of his men, has become desperate to discover and expose the secrets of the mystery woman Phasma, born to be a warrior and emergent from a bizarre alien world shrouded in darkness and danger, and whom has now usurped his leadership and his place in the elite command structure. Hoping to find something, some chink in her armour that will see her exiled or face the firing squad, Cardinal has newly captured a cocky and daring female Resistance spy who has the answers, tantalizing her to cooperate in exchange for freedom. And so the origins of Phasma are revealed from there, but sadly it all feels so run of the mill- Phasma's ambitions, attitude and anger all feel right but around her the story arc feels like a STAR WARS version of Game of Thrones in some ways - being part of the Scyre tribe fighting for survival by whatever means and sacrifices necessary in the chance to escape to the stars from the technologically de-evolving and seemingly dying world of Parnassos, alongside a small band of loyal to the end characters all of whom equally wouldn't be out of place in George R.R. Martin's work, mixed together with a quest full of mysterious realms that could have been in early seventies gloom sci-fi, the original Planet of the Apes, or even Classic Star Trek for that matter, which failed to engage this reviewer. Yes, Cardinal's actions towards Phasma end the book on a strong note, but even then the overall tale feels like a padded time waster in some respects, as it's clearly obvious what the outcome will be linked to this iconic villainess, and especially as Cardinal is likely not going to be mentioned in The Last Jedi. What Phasma's actual link to the upcoming film will be, I really couldn't tell you after reading this to the end - likely nothing too substantial, but just enough of an exposition mention to be make this tie-in seem worthwhile. History seems to be repeating itself: sometimes it's better to leave intriguing character's background unexplained, to leave the aura of mystery intact: something a lot of fans never forgave George Lucas for in revealing the true heritage of Boba Fett with the Prequels.
Delilah S. Dawson certainly deserves a second full-length STAR WARS book for the future, but let's hope for something that's much more of an involving and overall more original read.
AFICIONADO RATING: For the die-hard sequel book fans only: 3 out of 5
Get Phasma here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Wars-Phasma-Journey-Last/dp/1780898215/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506538603&sr=1-1&keywords=star+wars+phasma