What’s the story behind all those things you see in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?
Delilah S. Dawson seems to know! In her newest book, Black Spire, she tells the tale of the outpost on the far edges of the galaxy where hopefully the Resistance can find a new home. Or at least a base from which to find respite. Taking place after The Last Jedi, Black Spire sets the stage for the final episode in the Star Wars saga – The Rise of Skywalker. The first novel Del Rey novel set after the last film, it introduces this world to readers with more depth and color than ever before.
Batuu and Black Spire Outpost debuted in written form with Thrawn: Alliances as a place where Anakin Skywalker and Grand Admiral Thrawn teamed up – twice! Once during the Clone Wars era as Anakin and Commander Thrawn and then pre-A New Hope as Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn. But this version of the settlement on the edge of the galaxy takes place much later than that initial visit and is the version built in the Disney theme parks.
In what has got to be the most synergistic use of a property, both the theme park land and the book enhance one another, adding to the richness of each. The book delves into the history behind Oga’s Cantina, Savi’s Workshop, and even Ronto Roasters just to name a few of the many places you will encounter in Black Spire. When you visit Disneyland and later Walt Disney World to see this place take form in real life, you’ll also see the things described in the novel. And being at the park will bring to life all the things you read about in the book! According to the press release, the novel was developed in “close collaboration” with the creative team that developed the theme park land and the characters in the book are ones featured in the land itself. They thought of everything. Even the cover is meant to be one you could recreate when you visit the park for yourself!
But all of it would be for naught if the story was not worthy of the Star Wars name. Thankfully, Del Rey tapped veteran author (and Star Wars scribe) Delilah S. Dawson to step into those shoes. Not only was this a worthy follow-up to Phasma but it was good on its own. The story continues the tale of Vi Moradi, first encountered in Phasma. Leia has a new mission for her, one which at first seems to be a cake walk of a mission – establish a new base for the Resistance on Batuu. Couldn’t someone with less talent than Vi do this? Turns out, no, for many reasons which become apparent. To make matters worse, she now has to take along her once former torturer, Captain Cardinal – now calling himself Archex – along with her!
The novel is not only a great adventure story but also one of personal depth as each character has to define for themselves who they are in this new place. We meet Savi and Oga as well as key characters to the Resistance like Dolin, Ylena, Zade, Salju, and Mubo. Pook is hilarious as the Resistance support droid. A little too much like K2SO, but hilarious nonetheless. Actually a bit more caustic than the Rogue One droid. Plus, there is more going on at Batuu than meets the eye. What both excited and frustrated me though was that it ended in suspense! What happens next? Will that be answered in the film or is there another novel coming? Or maybe even in the new attraction Rise of the Resistance that has yet to debut!
If you’re into audiobooks, this one is a GEM! I already loved the book, so when I received a copy of the audiobook, I wasn’t sure if it would live up to the images in my head. It didn’t. It surpassed it. January LaVoy does a remarkable job with her voice acting. Able to really capture the essence, the humor, the wit, and the struggles of Vi Moradi, she is able to paint a picture of the lush surroundings on Batuu and creates an image of Vi that is true to the character. Some of the characterizations are not quite what I pictured in my head, but that’s always the case. Some are even better. Like Kriki. I love the way January voices this little Chadra-Fan! Vulnerable, yet tough and smart. But mostly adorable. Her take on Archex is right on target. Unsure yet eager, still needing to be convinced about the Resistance, but definitely not one to favor the First Order, January really captures the struggle with Archex’ attempts to find his place in his new world. And of course, the sound effects and music make the production of this audiobook more like a play or radio drama. As is all the Star Wars audiobooks, the sound engineers should win awards for how well they enhance the story without dominating it. So good! Definitely worth listening to – even AFTER you’ve read the book!
Thanks to Del Rey / Penguin Publishing for providing me with an advance copy of both the physical book and the audiobook. Cover and other materials are subject to change.