There's a lot to be excited about right now in the world of Star Wars, with all of the prospects on the horizon just looking so incredibly wizard.
The past few days have given us an abundance of new materials for upcoming projects: a new poster and some new footage from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a trailer for The Mandalorian, a release date for the return of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi officially returning to once again say, "Hello there!" The bounty on display doesn't end there, though, because wouldn't you know it? There's a new book upon us as well: Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire.
The new tome from Delilah S. Dawson could be easily dismissed as a simple tie-in to the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge interactive world that has now opened at Disneyland (and will soon open at Walt Disney World), but fans familiar with Dawson's work will know that nothing of hers can ever be dismissed. Yes, the book does give the reader a ton of information on Batuu's Black Spire Outpost (the location of Galaxy's Edge), but it also does many other wonderful things at the same time.
Initially set during the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the book quickly shifts to the time period right after Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It's one of the first real glimpses we've gotten into what happened after broom boy lifted his broom and looked to the stars, and for that alone it is a highly interesting read.
Let's go through our five biggest takeaways from this new book, which is available today from Del Rey.
**WARNING: There are spoilers following for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire Outpost. That's the whole point of the article. If you haven't read it yet and want to go in cold, then race out of here faster than Sebulba.**
IT'S A PHASMA SEQUEL
Possibly the most interesting thing about the book is that it directly follows up on the story Dawson began in Star Wars: Phasma. Resistance operative Vi Moradi is our main character, and she continues her journey alongside former First Order antagonist Captain Cardinal, who now goes by his real name, Archex.
The events of the previous book set these two characters up in a very dynamic relationship — Archex severely tortured Vi in Phasma, but now he has been rehabilitated and begun to break through the ugly conditioning of the First Order. Through Archex, we learn how the First Order programs its soldiers to be smart, but not too smart. They don't want them questioning the war machine or the horrors of what they are doing. Archex spends some quality time doing away with these blinders, and General Leia Organa sends him along with Vi on a new mission.
Is there any redemption in store for someone who was so thoroughly brainwashed by the First Order? It turns out that yes, there can be. The First Order doesn't recruit — they abduct. They see something they want, they take it. They subsume. Archex learns to be his own man again, and his developing storyline with Vi continues what was already a fascinating thread from Phasma. Dawson doesn't make Phasma required reading — she explains everything you need to know in case you haven't read her former book — but for maximum enjoyment (and understanding) of this story, reading Phasma wouldn't hurt.
STATE OF THE GALAXY
We get a look at the state of the galaxy far, far away after the Resistance was ground down to just a few dozen members flying away on the Millennium Falcon at the end of The Last Jedi. General Organa has sent out orders to any and all Resistance members, and those orders are along the lines of, "hide, rebuild, recruit." (Though she says it much more eloquently than we just did.)
The mission that Vi and Archex are sent on is just this: They are sent to the lawless Batuu, right on the edge of Wild Space, so they can establish a new stronghold for the Resistance. They are also tasked with recruiting new members, which is not easy — for denizens of Batuu, the troubles of the Resistance and the First Order are mostly just distant rumors. The First Order hasn't become a real issue for them yet, so they are content to let others deal with them. What are they gonna do, just swoop in and start taking over everything?
That's exactly what they do. The "it can't happen here" attitude of the Batuuans is shattered mid-book (or earlier), and the First Order is on their doorstep fairly quickly. By the book's end, Kylo Ren himself arrives, and that's not gonna be good for anyone.
The New Republic is gone, so who's gonna stop these neo-Nazis from going to town? The fledgling Resistance on Batuu, led by Vi Moradi, will thankfully be there to lend a hand. They are small, but by book's end, they are established. They are ready to fight.
MUCH ADO ABOUT BATUU
Do you want to know more about the planet Batuu and Black Spire Outpost? The book tells you everything you need to know. The planet has three suns, and the outpost was built (or carved) into old ruins that dominate the landscape. The last time we visited this planet in a book (Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances), this outpost wasn't even close to being developed like this, so all of it has likely started springing up a few years before the Battle of Yavin. That would also be the period when a younger Han Solo got into some trouble on Batuu, which is fleshed out in the flashback-based Marvel comic book spin-off about the location.
It is described as a mixture of old and new, with buildings coming right out of the rock like sandcastles. There are many "spires" around the area, which are the remains of petrified trees. The outpost itself gets its name from the biggest of these — most of the spires are grey, but the largest of them all is black. They are described as "ancient, mysterious, and ever-looming." The residents of the outpost have adopted their own saying while living in their shadows: "may the spires keep you."
As for the inhabitants and stores, you have Mubo's Droid Depot, Dok Ondar's Den of Antiquities, Ronto Roasters (where the proprietor cooks meat on the engine of a pod racer), and Oga's Cantina. The last destination is where you'll likely find Oga Garra, the local crime lord.
The most interesting location that we did not mention above is the salvage yard run by a man named Savi, which is a place Vi ends up going to look for work. The salvage yard is just a decoy, though, as it's actually a front for Savi's Workshop, and if you've been to Galaxy's Edge, then you know exactly what kind of workshop it is.
This is where they make the lightsabers, and in this book, we find out why. Savi himself was an old friend of Lor San Tekka (Max Von Sydow) from The Force Awakens. They can't wield the Force, but they do believe in it. They call themselves the "gatherers," and it is their job to protect the balance of the Force.
Through salvaging for Savi, Vi finds a whole cache of Kyber crystals, the element that is at the heart of every lightsaber. We are also led to believe that Savi has a stockpile of the weapons within his workshop. In fact, when one of Savi's flock asks him if they can't give Vi more help, they say, "Can't we give her one of the –" before being cut off.
Savi is sympathetic to the Resistance cause, but he also believes that it is not the duty of the Gatherers to become directly involved... at least not yet. He believes they "serve a greater purpose," and that they will, at some point, play a part in the battle between the two factions. In the end, he maintains that they "are the flock, not the shepherds."
So, Savi and the Gatherers have a large cache of "artifacts and ancient weapons" on Batuu. They protect the balance, but they do not tip the scales. As Savi says, "We hold a candle, but will not light any fuse."
He also says, "I'm certain we will play our part one day." More than anything else in the book, this shot up a huge red flag of importance. Lor San Tekka kicked off the sequel trilogy (or the "Age of Resistance"), so it would make sense for the rest of his ilk to play a part in the end. If we see a massive group of force users all wielding lightsabers in The Rise of Skywalker (by the force and the spires, we really would love that), then we'll know where some of those weapons probably came from.
TELEPORT ME OFF THIS ROCK
This is more of a complaint than anything else. Aside from continuing the tale of Moradi and Archex and expanding the Star Wars lore, the book really, really, (really) makes you want to go to this place.
Seriously, between the tree that you tie wishes on (as they wither, the wishes come true, a whole tree of hope, ahhh), actually going to Savi's secret workshop, the feeling of utter lawlessness, and the battle between the First Order and the Resistance on a more intimate level... man, just get us there right now.
Not all of us have had the opportunity to make the trip to Galaxy's Edge yet, and that has perhaps manifested itself in some severe FOMO, for lack of a better way to say it. This book makes that feeling even worse because Dawson's tale makes the place feel alive and real. Most Star Wars locations excel at making you feel that, but in this case the place is real. The three suns are right over in Los Angeles, and will soon be in Orlando. There are some fantastic adventures available to quench a little of this thirst, but before Skywalker rises, we're really gonna need to see the spires for ourselves.
We wanted to go before, but now? We are desperate to get to Black Spire Outpost and help the fledgling Resistance find its footing. Grill us all you want, First Order scum, we're not gonna give up any secrets. We're also not going to make any deals with Oga Garra — because she scares the poodoo right out of us.
Speed up the harvest, teleport us off this rock, and get us to Galaxy's Edge right now. Until that happens, we'll enjoy reading about it. May the spires keep us.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire is on shelves right now.
Disclaimer: This was not a review. This was a celebratory investigation of canon, and should be treated as such.