Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire: There is hope in darkness (REVIEW)


Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire is the first Star Wars novel that explores the state of the Resistance after the events of The Last Jedi. It also shows an even darker side to The First Order.

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire. If you don’t want to know what happens, read the book first and come back to this review when you’re done!

The publishing campaign surrounding Galaxy’s Edge wasn’t met with total admiration. Plenty Star Wars fans — especially fans of expanded universe content such as books and comics — were highly skeptical of the idea. Did we really need books about Batuu? A whole comic book series? Is this really necessary?

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A Crash of Fate, the first novel set on Black Spire Outpost, was more than enough proof that the authors chosen for this project treated these stories as much more than components of a marketing campaign for a Disney theme park. Now we have even more evidence these books are about the characters — and the Skywalker saga as a whole — than they are about blue milk and custom droid and lightsaber building.

Delilah S. Dawson took the task of a second Galaxy’s Edge story, Black Spire, and did what she does best: She created characters and a story that almost makes you forget Batuu is now a “real” place some of us might be lucky enough to visit someday.

Leia Organa’s mission for Vi Moradi

For those unfamiliar with the character, Vi is a Resistance spy who has recently escaped being captured and tortured by the First Order. As she heals, she is given the task of traveling to Batuu, a faraway world that just so happens to be the perfect place for a secret base.

Once enemies holding each other’s lives in their hands, Vi and Cardinal (who now goes by Archex) are paired up and forced to work together to familiarize themselves with Black Spire Outpost and those who live there.

After crash-landing on the planet and waking up to find all their supplies stolen, the two have to set aside their painful pasts if they’re going to have any hope of strengthening the Resistance.

Introducing trauma into Star Wars

About a month ago I tweeted about my hope for more representation of trauma in Star Wars stories, having no idea Dawson had already fulfilled that need in the most raw and realistic way possible.

Vi has just been tortured nearly to death at the hands of Archex. Archex recently faced his own near-death experience and “involuntarily defected” from the First Order only to realize he had been brainwashed into remaining loyal to it in the first place.

Nearly every major character has faced something that stays with them. And it makes perfect sense — Finn seems to have had little trouble recovering from his First Order training, but we typically don’t fault J.J. Abrams for that. This is why the expanded universe exists — so different elements of the universe can be explored through different mediums.

In all honesty, as much as we would love to see more realism like this in the movies, there just isn’t time for it. If every movie focused on the personal impact of war on every character, it would get a little tiresome.

The reason focusing on trauma works in this book is because it’s used specifically to show two things: One, reinforcing the sadistic brutality of the First Order, and two, what it truly means to be a hero — finding the strength, both alone and in numbers, to stand up against evil despite the shadows it has left upon your life.

In this story, everyone has gone through something nearly unspeakable. Darkness, after all, lives inside each of us. But this story serves as a reminder that it’s not about how much darkness you carry, but how you use it.

You could also draw a comparison between Vi in Black Spire and Phasma in her self-titled novel (also written by Dawson). While Phasma uses her dark past to fuel her loyalty to the First Order (and herself), Vi uses hers to strengthen her fight against the very thing that scarred her.

Behold: The post-credit scenes of the Star Wars universe

By now, we can pretty much expect every epilogue at the end of a Star Wars novel to build a bridge between different parts of the overall saga. Solo brought Jyn Erso and Enfys Nest together for several pages. Ahsoka paired up Bail Organa and Ahsoka Tano for the meeting that would establish the Fulcrum network.

And Black Spire, following the trend set by its predecessors, takes us on a several page-long roller coaster I know I was not prepared for.

Everything is going well on Batuu. The Resistance base is thriving. Vi, now a captain, is training new recruits. Unexpectedly, she gets a call from someone called Green Leader warning her that — get ready — Kylo Ren is on his way to Black Spire Outpost.

Enter: Star Destroyer.

Commence: My broken heart.

And then the book ends.

There’s still plenty of post-TLJ content on the way, including another canon novel (Resistance Reborn) and the second season of Star Wars Resistance. We might get some follow-up to what’s about to go down. Or we’ll just have to wait until (sigh) December.

Star Wars Resistance
Photo credit: Star Wars Resistance/Disney, Image acquired from Lucasfilm /

Do you need to read Phasma before Black Spire?

I’ve seen this question bouncing around on forums and on Twitter. Dawson authored both books, and there are key characters in Black Spire that originated in Phasma. More importantly, if you read Black Spire before Phasma, the narration will spoil some major plot points from the latter, which is a major bummer if you’re not into knowing what happens in a book before you read it.

So if you’re planning on reading Phasma anyway, and have some time to spare for Black Spire before The Rise of Skywalker, definitely read Phasma first. It’s a thrilling, horrifying and amazing story, and just so happens to be the perfect setup for Vi and Archex in this new story.

But if you weren’t planning on reading Phasma or don’t mind spoilers, this book does fill you in on everything you need to know in terms of what happened between Vi and Cardinal (Archex) and its significance to the plot moving forward.

Still read Phasma anyway, though, if you haven’t. It’s like Mad Max! In space! With murderous beetles and a villain backstory you’ll never forget!

Is Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire a must-read?

There have been, admittedly, plenty of Star Wars books released in the past five years that expanded upon the universe and were worth reading but didn’t necessarily enhance it. Once again, Delilah S. Dawson has told an unforgettable story that has a major impact on the future of the Skywalker saga.

So if you’re gathering as much background, spoiler-free information as you can before December 20, definitely add this book to your list. Get the audiobook, if you prefer to listen to a story rather than read it. Download a digital version to your phone so you can read it on the train. Do whatever it takes to consume this gem, because trust me — it’s going to leave you more excited for The Rise of Skywalker than you’ve ever been before.

You can pick up your copy of Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire now wherever books are sold.

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