Like a long wait for a popular theme park attraction, the new Star Wars novel Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire involves a slow build-up for what is, ultimately, a short ride. But it’s a ride that will leave you getting back in line, wanting more.
At 400 pages in hardcover, Delilah S. Dawson’s Black Spire is a fun romp of Star Wars adventure that pushes the story of the sequel movie trilogy out beyond Episode VIII — The Last Jedi and into territory approaching December’s Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker. It’s set both during and after the events of Episode VII — The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, in fact, highlighting how unusually back-to-back those movies were for Star Wars feature films. (The Rise of Skywalker will take place some time after those movies and Black Spire, and after another upcoming novel, Resistance Reborn, which precedes this story.)
Sent to establish a Resistance foothold on a backwater world as the movement suffers from the First Order onslaught, a crafty (literally) spy, her turncoat companion and an acerbic droid lose literally all of their resources in one fell swoop. No reinforcements are coming, either. But hope never dims, and they make a new life there until they can start recruiting and ultimately create a base the Resistance can fall back to if needed.
The Black Spire book is about 100 pages too long, sadly, and it’s not until about that far in that the action really picks up and it feels like a proper Star Wars adventure. In other words, there’s a lot of prologue, though it’s not labeled as such. Prologue isn’t a bad thing, but it tends to take over here like the expansionist First Order, and only dogged Resistance will get you through.
Where Black Spire suffers is also where it excels, building out the remote Outer Rim world of Batuu and its Black Spire Outpost, which comprises the real-world location of Galaxy’s Edge, the new Star Wars “land” at Disneyland that is soon to open as well at Walt Disney World.
Much of the book reads like a guide to exploring this fan’s heaven-on-Earth — Disney wants you to “read before you visit.” By the time you reach the end of the book, you’re ready to be in sync with the events that unfold in person for Galaxy’s Edge visitors.
That’s great, but the book’s first third really drags, and there’s no FastPass to save you the wait in line; thankfully, the experience is much more vibrant than the murky glimpse of Clone Wars-era Batuu we first got in Thrawn: Alliances, and it will be augmented with Marvel comics, the young adult novel Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate and even an official cookbook. It’s pretty hard to escape the Galaxy’s Edge phenomenon these days, just as it’s hard to escape the fear of missing out — but all these different entry points help a little bit with the FOMO, at least.
As a sequel to Dawson’s Phasma, Black Spire is a great further adventure of General Leia Organa’s go-to Resistance spy “Starling,” aka Vi Moradi, whom you can now encounter in the flesh at a Disney park. Another key character from Phasma returns and gets a worthy story arc of their own here.
The vivid characters in Black Spire really steal the show — not something you can say about every Star Wars novel or even original action franchise tie-in fiction in general. And Black Spire Outpost is almost a character in its own right here, and it’s done right here. There’s also a prominent, explicitly asexual human character in Black Spire, so it will be interesting to see whether they trigger the same kinds of discussions that these canonical novels did when introducing a same-sex relationship after Disney bought Lucasfilm and its properties several years ago.
In short, Black Spire is well worth the time it takes to really get into it. But to get to the point where it’s rip-roaring Star Wars excitement, you’ll have to work it it at first. Just buckle down and get the job done, the way Vi always does, and you’ll be fine.
A copy of Black Spire was provided by the publisher.
SPECIAL THANKS ARE IN ORDER:
Discuss Literary Adventures at the Facebook group 'For the Love of All Things Edgar Rice Burroughs.'Trademarks TARZAN®, TARZAN OF THE APES®, JOHN CARTER OF MARS®, DEJAH THORIS®, PELLUCIDAR®, A PRINCESS OF MARS® and EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS® are owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.