Welcome to my latest Book Review. In this series I will look to review any canon books that come out in the Star Wars galaxy as I work my way through them. I am no expert book critic or expert in writing (as you may be able to tell), so this is very much from a fan’s point of view. In each review, I will also try to point out a few “Moments in Canon” – moments that link into the wider canon and references to other canon stories. Today I will be looking at Delilah S. Dawson’s Black Spire
There may be some mild spoilers for this novel and Phasma
Black Spire was a novel released as part of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge media project – a series of books and comics that centred around Galaxy’s Edge, the new Disney theme park that was designed to be Black Spire Outpost from the planet Batuu and house a story that is part of the Star Wars canon.
The novel is a continuation of Vi Moradi’s story following the events of Phasma. Following the losses accrued during The Last Jedi, Vi is tasked with going to Batuu with an uneasy ally, Archex, with the plans to find support for the Resistance and set up a base n the planet. But when the First Order arrives, her job becomes a whole lot harder.
Unlike Phasma, which used Vi’s story as a framing narrative for Phasma’s history, this is a much more normal narrative style, with the whole story focused along the same line. Vi’s is the main point of view, but we also have chapters focused on Archex and some of the locals who side with Vi, while the First Order perspective is shown through the eyes of Lieutenant Wulfgar Kath.
After the Hosnian Cataclysm, the Resistance was thrown into utter chaos. And after the Battle of Crait, it was nearly destroyed.
The majority of the story is set approximately 4 months after the events of The Last Jedi and leads up to the events visitors to Galaxy’s Edge will find themselves a part of, though the very start of the book is set concurrent to The Force Awakens.
When I first heard of this novel, I must admit that I was worried it would be a thinly-veiled advert for the new theme park, but I was willing to give it a look due to how well I thought Dawson had done with Phasma. Though there was one section that did feel a little like a tour of everywhere you’d be able to see and visit in the park, there were legitimate reasons for Vi to be escorted around in this way, while the rest of the story really expanded beyond that and created a fantastic narrative overall.
His eyes met hers, and it struck her to the heart, the pity she felt for her once-enemy, the man who’d taken her into that dank, blood-stained room in the belly of a Star Destroyer and pushed her to the limits of her own sanity and loyalty.
It was great to see Vi return, but what I really appreciated was that even though her character was largely the same as before, she had clearly been affected by the events of Phasma and the torture that she had undergone at the hands of the First Order. It was great seeing a more vulnerable side of her and this allowed her to grow as a character as the novel went on. Archex was a character that I really enjoyed too as he struggled to find his place in the group due to injuries limiting his physical impact and also his reluctant support of the Resistance, before building to becoming a true hero as the novel went on, while the other characters who join the group also go through their own growth to become heroes. The final member of the group I need to mention is the droid Pook, who’s sardonic personality really reminded me of AP-5 from Rebels, to the point that I was hearing the same voice in my head whenever I was reading Pook’s dialogue. It was a great use of comic relief that allowed the human characters to remain more serious as required. It really felt like the group grew naturally, with members joining for reasons that felt natural and filling must-needed gaps within the group that Vi and Archex were initially trying to cover themselves.
Maybe one day he would tell everyone about where he’d come from… and maybe not. He didn’t want them to look at him like he was a monster.
From the First Order side of things, Kath was an absolutely disgusting character and as such a wonderful villain. It was great seeing him have a personal vendetta against Vi due to a previous run-in leaving him humiliated. It is difficult to avoid a character just being evil for the sake of it, so to have that backstory really helped and the scenes of him torturing his prisoners showed him to be a real threat. Similarly, I also thought the local gangsters made for great secondary antagonists as they cause Vi a number of issues throughout the story.
I really enjoyed the story overall. While it felt a little slow at times, I think it did a good job of highlighting just how hard Vi was finding it to have success gaining support for the Resistance, while some truly emotional moments helped the story build to a great confrontation between the First Order and Resistance. I did find it a bit strange how the story seemed to be coming to a conclusion that did not tie in with the events at Galaxy’s Edge, but I needn’t have worried as an epilogue set this up very well. And throughout all of this, it did a really good job of introducing all of these characters to us who we would be able to meet or hear about as we make ourselves around the park.
Should I read it?
The story is quite contained so far from essential, but I feel that this will really help to expand the universe for anyone who has been to Galaxy’s Edge or is intending to go.
She was a spy, not an orator or even a person who inspired warm fuzzies. How was she supposed to turn their hearts?
Beyond that, if you were a fan of Vi in Phasma, then you should pick this book up, but I would also say that it is a good book for someone who is only just starting to read the novels – though I would always recommend reading Phasma first to avoid spoilers (Black Spire will work as a stand-alone story though if you don’t want to read both stories)
Moments in Canon
- The First Order is once again shown to be continuing the Empire’s xenophobia
- Castilon is noted as no longer safe. By this point in the story, the Colossus would have left the planet
- Podracing was made illegal by the New Republic
- Savi was friends with Lor San Tekka
- The story of Leia using the Force to pull herself back into the Raddus has spread around the galaxy
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…