Theoretically, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge shouldn’t need a backstory. When the ambitious new Disney theme park land was first announced, it was described as taking place on an all-new planet where guests could embark on their own Star Wars adventures without relying on familiar stories set in locations they had already experienced in other media.
But, far be it from Lucasfilm (and its corporate parent as of 2012 Disney, of course) to let the potential for a good tie-in novel or three go to waste. Recently, we’ve visited Batuu during the time of the Empire in Star Wars: Thrawn – Alliances, read about how Hondo Ohnaka came into temporary possession of the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Pirate’s Price, and learned how Dok-Ondar accumulated his collection of rare antiquities in the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Marvel comic book series. And now it’s finally time for the meat of the story in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Black Spire.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson (author of Star Wars: Phasma and the Blud paranormal romance series) is the tale of how the Resistance and First Order came to have a presence on Batuu, and focuses on Resistance spy Vi Moradi, who we can see as a meetable face character in the park. Vi is dispatched by General Leia Organa to establish a Resistance base and begin enlisting freedom fighters from among the locals of Black Spire Outpost and its surrounding settlements.
The problem is as far as spies go, Vi is a pretty clumsy one. Maybe that’s a failing of the book, but upon her arrival on Batuu, she immediately draws the attention and subsequent arrival of the First Order by wearing a Resistance insignia on her jacket. Doesn’t seem like the smartest move. Then she goes around berating people for not wanting to join her cause and for ignoring the threat that she herself brought to their previously peaceful planet.
I wish any of the Batuuan characters Vi interacted with in the novel had called her out on that particular hypocrisy, but instead they either declare the conflict not to be their problem, or join up with her and her partner, former First Order officer Archex AKA Cardinal from Phasma, the 2017 book in which Moradi herself also made her debut.
I haven’t read Phasma so I didn’t have any real emotional connection to Vi or Archex going into this story, but I found them to both be so laughably bad at their jobs that it was no wonder Leia sent them off into the far reaches of the galaxy, probably just to get them out of her hair. Vi is repeatedly letting herself be made or captured by unfriendly denizens of Black Spire, crashing ships, losing important cargo, and attracting unwanted attention to her mission.
That last one almost makes the premise of this novel a catch-22, as the pair is supposed to be establishing a secret base that almost instantaneously becomes common knowledge among just about everybody. Imagine if the Empire had shown up on Hoth the minute the Rebel Alliance had found that giant ice cave. Would they have continued building there? It doesn’t seem likely.
Still, Vi and Archex (who spends most of the book moping angstily about injuries he sustained in the last one) have the extremely good fortune of meeting some very helpful friends, a couple of which actually turn out to be somewhat interesting characters. Most notable on that list is Zade Kalliday, basically an approximation of what Captain Jack Sparrow would be like in the Star Wars universe. Zade is a charmingly loud-mouthed, foppish smuggler and a lot of fun, but unfortunately he doesn’t show up until more than halfway through the 362 pages.
There’s also Black Spire Outpost’s resident mob boss Oga Garra (owner of Oga’s Cantina, and apparently the rest of the city), who steals the three chapters she appears in like an intergalactic Huttese-speaking Ursula, the moustache-twirling villain Kath, another officer who shows up with the First Order and serves as a constant, repetitive foil for just about everybody, and a tiny bat-like Chadra-Fan named Kriki who becomes the modest Resistance cell’s tech guru, meek as she is. And we can’t forget the requisite sarcastic droid character, this timed named Pook. Yup, Pook.
Middling characters aside, it’s fun enough to read about the daily goings-on on Batuu, even though the prose often comes across a little too much like the Disney Parks commercial it is. It’s a little off-putting to hear Star Wars dialogue incorporating Disneyland counter-service restaurant names like Ronto Roasters and drinks like the Jedi Mind Trick. Those monikers work as wink-wink references in the land, but once you take them out of that context, they feel a little too on-the-nose to actually exist within a canon story.
The best part of the book takes place in the ancient ruins outside of Black Spire Outpost, the location of the coming-soon Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction. There, Vi explores an Indiana Jones-esque temple full of booby traps while seeking a sought-after relic at the behest of Oga. This mini-adventure made me even more excited to enter that location when the ride finally opens this winter. It’s a fun side quest in a book that otherwise exists only to get the pieces in place for small story beats we’ve already seen in person.
For that reason, I wonder if I would have liked this novel more if I had read it before I ever stepped foot in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It’s another Star Wars prequel that fills in gaps that didn’t really need filling in. And what I’d really like to see is something I’m crossing my fingers will happen eventually– the story moving forward in the land itself.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Black Spire will be available Tuesday, August 27 wherever books are sold.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.