NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Discover Captain Phasma’s mysterious history in this “Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi” novel.
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.
Praise for Phasma
“Fury Road meets The Force Awakens . . . a much-needed origin story for one of the new Star Wars saga’s most mysterious characters.”—The Verge
“Dark, gripping, and entertaining.”—Roqoo Depot
“Fabulous, utterly engrossing.”—Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Delilah S. Dawson is the author of the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: Phasma, Hit, Servants of the Storm, the Blud series, the creator-owned comics Ladycastle and Sparrowhawk, and the Shadow series (written as Lila Bowen). She lives in Florida with her family and a fat mutt named Merle.
Read an Excerpt
Vi was trained to remember every detail when it counts, but even she can’t keep up with the labyrinthine twists and turns of the enormous Star Destroyer’s guts. Long hallways end and intersect, and turbolifts up and down make it impossible for her to recall their route. It’s one thing to see pictures of ships like this one, but it’s another thing to really understand the enormity of their enemy’s resources. As he guides her into another lift, the man in red stands in front of the panel so she can’t see which level they’re headed to.
“Your place or mine?” Vi asks, hoping to goad him into moving aside.
But the man in red is silent, the gun always rammed into some soft place on her body and the spherical droid floating by his side. Her leather jacket has built-in armor plating, but it wouldn’t do much to stop a fatal shot at this distance. Thing is, she knows he’s not going to shoot her. But she has to play along. When she slowly begins to take her hands down, he clicks his tongue at her.
“Tsk. Hands on head. You know how this works, scum.”
The blaster shoves into her kidney, and her hands go right back up. “Look, I’m not scum. I don’t know who you think I am, but I’m just a trader. Maybe I smuggle a little, but who doesn’t? And wouldn’t that be the New Republic’s jurisdiction, anyway? Did I travel back in time? Shouldn’t I be in a cell, waiting to speak to some cadaverous bureaucrat in a jaunty hat?”
The lift door slides open, and he shoves her out into a hall that’s downright dungeonous. They didn’t see anyone farther up, and Vi is willing to bet that’s due to a combination of this trooper’s knowledge of the ship’s rigorous schedule and his droid’s meddling, as it sometimes pushed ahead to lead. But down here—well, it’s clear nobody goes down here. Except people doing things they shouldn’t be doing.
The lighting is dim and flickering, and there’s something dripping, maybe runoff from the vent system. They’re deep in the bowels of the Star Destroyer, then, in an area that’s generally off-limits or beneath notice. And that’s not good for Vi. Even the First Order has rules, and the red trooper is breaking them. If this guy kills her, he won’t even have to do datawork. She’ll just be another load of garbage sliding down toward the incinerator.
Great. The Resistance doesn’t know much about the enemy they’re facing, and the New Republic doesn’t consider them a threat, which means Vi hasn’t been briefed on the protocol these people generally follow. She doesn’t know what to expect. She’s been trained to resist interrogation, but she also doesn’t know what new toys this guy in red might have. A chill trickles down her spine. She might be in over her head.
“They put you in the penthouse, huh, Emergency Brake?” she says, because she always babbles when truly worried. “Top-notch accommodations. Can we get room service?”
The blaster doesn’t leave her spine. Her captor gives her directions— turn here, turn there—but doesn’t respond to her taunting. Finally, he presses a long code into a control panel on the wall, and a door slides open far less smoothly than Vi would expect in what’s obviously a new ship. The room inside is colder than it should be and smells of moisture, metal, and, no point in denying it, blood. The spherical droid hurries inside first and turns off the cams, one by one. Vi pauses on the threshold, but the trooper finally touches her, shoving her hard with a gloved hand so that she stumbles to her knees, her fingers curling into a rusty grate set in the floor.
“You really know how to treat a girl right.”
He reaches into her jacket’s collar and hauls her to her feet, spinning her around. She staggers into the wall, putting her back against the cold metal. The room isn’t large, maybe three meters by four, and it clearly has only one use: interrogation. Well, two uses, if you count torture. Three, if you include the inevitable death promised by the fact that she’s not going to give up any intel on the Resistance. The space is dominated by an interrogation chair, and the only other furnishings are a simple table and two rickety metal chairs, a place for the bad guys to sit down with a cup of caf and go over their notes while their victim bleeds out, probably.
“I hope the linens are clean.”
He shakes his head like he’s disappointed, grabs her jacket lapels, and drags her to the interrogation chair. They call it a chair, but it’s actually like a gurney standing on end with metal pincers to restrain her head, chest, and wrists as she stands on the metal lip. As part of her training, Vi was shown dozens of images of such machines ranging back from the days of the Empire’s Inquisitors to more sophisticated units currently being manufactured for Hutts and other thugs with too much money and a need to get information while keeping their slimy hands clean. This unit, she’s sad to notice, has life-support capabilities and a mind probe, which means her captor can bypass discussion and go straight to her brain. Vi has been trained to withstand fists and weapons, but no one has yet found a way to evade direct attacks on the nervous system. She contemplates the poison tooth implanted in the back of her jaw for the first time, running her tongue over it as her captor snaps the metal manacles closed around her arms and torso.
She won’t bite down yet. There’s still a way out of here. There has to be. With everything she knows now, surviving will mean major strides for the Resistance. They’ll have a better idea of what they’re truly fighting, in numbers, technology, and enemy mindset. But that means she’s got to find a way to live through this interrogation with her mind and body intact. And that means she’s got to stop focusing on her own predicament and start paying attention to her enemy and what makes him tick.
Luckily, she knows a lot more about him than he knows about her.
After strapping her in, he checks the panel monitoring her vital signs, flicking it with a finger.
“Your heart rate is up,” he notes.
“Yeah, well, I’m strapped into a torture chair, standing on somebody else’s dried blood. Seems like a natural response.”
“You’ve got something to hide.”
His red helmet tips, just a fraction, conceding the point. As she watches him, he moves around the edges of the room, double-checking the cam feeds his droid already shut off, as well as what she’d guess is the comm system. The droid hovers ominously beside his shoulder, and he makes the rounds slowly, as if giving a warning.
This is not official.
This is off the record.
No one else is watching.
There will be no interruptions, no reprieves.
This is not how the First Order does things.
“So this is personal,” Vi notes.
“We shall see. It’s up to you. We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
Vi wiggles, testing the strength of her bonds. “Letting me go would be really, really easy. Besides, you can search me all you want, but I don’t have anything useful. Let your boys tear my ship apart, deconstruct my droid, unravel my sweater, poke around in my brain all day. Whoever you think I am, you’re wrong. I’m just a harmless passerby.”
He stands before her now, legs spread and arms crossed. His blaster is clipped on his hip, red and gleaming. His red-gloved fingers tap against it, another reminder. It’s just the two of them and his droid. Anything could happen.
“You are Vi Moradi, code name Starling, known Resistance spy. And you have the very intel I need.”
“And you’re the Big Red Button. What happens if I poke you in the chest? Does a light turn on somewhere? Does something explode?”
“You don’t deny it?”
She would shrug if she weren’t manacled and strapped down. “You’re the one running the torture, so you’re the one who gets to decide what’s true and what’s not.”
“You were on Parnassos.”
Vi is too well trained to grin.
“Was I? And what’s so important about Parnassos?”
Her captor considers her. “Nothing. That’s the point. Now tell me what you know about Captain Phasma.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In Phasma, Delilah S. Dawson shows us the brutal and opportunistic survivor that dwells behind the shiny armor we glimpse on screen. The novel shows us a different kind of Star Wars story than most - Jedi and the Force don’t warrant so much as a footnote here – yet the story retains that essential Star Wars spirit. The plot revolves around Brendol Hux (Armitage’s father) crash landing on the wasteland world of Parnassos. More desolate even than Tatooine (at least in this region), he recruits a tribal leader (Phasma) to guide him to a working ship. Along the way, they encounter other survivors, wildlife, and the remnants of a tribe Phasma has abandoned. The story is one part Moses in the Desert, one part Mad Max (Could Arratu Station be any more Thunderdome?), and one part Hannibal Lecter; together it’s a fun ride. Simultaneously, we meet a rebel spy who has been searching into Phasma’s history, and Phasma’s greatest rival within the first order. Aside from the main plotline, Phasma does an excellent job at building both the world of Parnassos and of the First Order. Parnassos is filled with predators and hazards; death lurks at every corner. The cultural adaptations of the tribal groups that vie for survival are carefully constructed and illustrated; the values of independence and interdependence are shown quite vividly. Although never fully illuminated, there’s also a compelling subplot explaining the abandonment of this part of Parnassos due to corporate exploitation and greed. Within the First Order, we learn more about how troops are trained and refined; we learn about power struggles and dynamics that are only hinted at in the films; and we learn the vaguest morsels about past imperial heroes like Rae Sloane. I still want to see more of the First Order’s formation and operation captured in literary form, but this is a good first taste. We don’t see a great deal of change within the character of Phasma in this novel; rather we see other characters change to understand her differently; only in the end is the clinically detached nature of her quest for survival fully exhibited. The structures through which we see Phasma is interesting; with few exceptions it’s a retelling of a story told by someone with an axe to grind against Phasma. At the same time it doesn’t feel bitter or biased; there’s a sense of disillusionment more than anything else. Other characters show more depth; we are treated to righteous struggle in the Cardinal, Vi’s compassionate but calculated manipulations, and Siv’s underlying innocence. The contrasts between Vi and Phasma are interesting; while both are manipulative and prone to violence, there’s an underlying sense of justice in Vi that’s missing in Phasma. Overall, the story is a great deal of fun. If you’re looking for a story about the wars of Star Wars then you’ll need to go elsewhere; but if you want a smaller story grounded in survival, trust, and insanity then you’ve found the right book.
This book was an interesting story about phasmas background. Not what i expected. It gives you an idea of what her mentality really is, and why it may concern everyone in the upcoming two films. I hope a few of the new characters make a comeback in upcoming books or even films.
An excellent Star Wars book! If you liked Tarkin and Thrawn, you'll like this book (although it does tend to mirror both a little too closely). But it's a fascinating read. Dawson does an excellent job of weaving a tale that's a real page turner. It starts a little slow, but then quickly picks up. She provides a great background to this character and really gives her more depth.
I really enjoyed the story.
...but doesn’t satisfactorily justify her actions in The Force Awakens. It’s also told as a frame story and the real character arc comes from Cardinal. I felt like Phasma was a secondary character as told by an unreliable third-hand narrator.
"Phasma" is the Mad Max of Star Wars canon. Set in a post apocalyptic wasteland full of war tribes, abandoned shelters, cult leaders, alien creatures, and cannibalism you can help but feel like this novel is Star Wars meets Mad Max meets Fallout. That's just a taste of the action, but at it's heart "Phasma" has emotional depth and questions of morality. In short- it's awesome!
Great book read it twice
Phasma is, quite simply, the Mad Max origin tale of the First Order’s shiny chrome Captain. The Force Awakens promised us a badass villain and fell short of the mark. In Phasma, Delilah S. Dawson makes up for that and delivers the butt kicking, back stabbing villain we hoped for. Or at least the one I was hoping for. But this journey might not be for everyone as it eschews some of the typical Star Wars story elements in order to do something a bit different. Everything starts with Vi Moradi. Vi is a new character, and she’s part of the framing story for the book. As an agent for the Resistance, she’s sent out to snoop on a part of space the First Order may be in. Unfortunately for her, she gets caught. This leads her to a figure known as Captain Cardinal. Cardinal is in charge of training the children of the First Order. But Cardinal has become wary of things and is convinced that Captain Phasma is corrupting everything the First Order stands for. He wants her taken out, and Vi Moradi is his key. From there on out, Vi tells Cardinal everything she knows about Phasma. She reveals the captain’s homeworld, her people, how she escaped to join the First Order, and the many betrayals she’s committed along the way. Thus the book takes breaks between the interrogation of Vi by her captor, and the unraveling origin story of Phasma. It’s an interesting way to tell the story, laying out some pieces of the First Order’s current state, as well as building out Phasma’s backstory. But Phasma is definitely the focus of both tales. Through her story, we get to see the small village she came from, the harsh conditions she grew up in, and the bold decisions she made to earn her escape from her planet and thus winning acceptance into the First Order. The book accomplishes a lot and reveals quite a bit about the character. We learn about her name, her family, her obsession with armor, how she got her armor, how she joined the First Order, and there’s an explanation for her actions in The Force Awakens. It even lays out the groundwork for the spear we’ve seen her with in The Last Jedi. Phasma is much more than a faithful brainwashed soldier. She’s a creature of her own making. Yet all of that only scratches the surface of what happens in this book. Calling it a Mad Max original tale isn’t too far from the truth as there’s some wild car combat and gladiator fights. The people of Phasma’s homeworld are a rough and ready bunch scraping by with whatever they can get. Some of the story is more Lord of the Flies than Mad Max as the survivors struggle to rule themselves in a survival of the fittest situation. There’s harsh environments, extreme violence, and some fairly disgusting monsters, some of whom are fellow humans. However, those very things are also the elements that stray a bit from the norm in regards to the Star Wars films. Not every Star Wars fan may dig a book that explores the darker side of the galaxy. On the other hand, this isn’t a cheery story about our heroes. This is a story about the villains. And to understand Phasma, you have to go into the shadows to see what lurks there. As an exploration of Captain Phasma, this book not only lays out the backstory for the character, but justifies her existence. Delilah S. Dawson cooks up a story that’s dark, gripping and entertaining. It’s a road paved in violence and sacrifice, and shielded behind a mask.
This was really a very interesting story. Full disclosure, I haven't read many of the newer Star Wars novels, but I was interested in seeing what they're doing in the run-up to the next movie, and I trusted that Dawson would do it well. I wasn't disappointed, even though this turned out to be a darker story than I had expected; it is about the rise of the very model of a modern Stormtrooper general, after all. It was just closer in tone to Empire Strikes Back than to New Hope, or Force Awakens. We also get to see more of the fascist ideology of the New Order, and the different sorts of characters that are attracted to its ideals. Anyway, definitely a good Star Wars read, especially if you're interested in more backstory for the movies.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book
Can't wait for more from this author