– Spoiler Review –
Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon is a short story that is part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” written by Delilah S. Dawson, and centers on spy-for-hire Bazine Netal and her latest mission. Overall, The Perfect Weapon is an enjoyable spy-fi romp in the Star Wars universe, with a strong central character in Bazine, but it tends to be predictable thanks to its over-reliance on spy genre tropes (though that same reliance is what makes it enjoyable in the first place).
Bazine was first seen in the Vanity Fair shoot and next the SDCC 2015 BTS video, resting comfortably on the belly of the giant Grumgarr at Maz Kanata’s castle, while they were both given their names only a few months ago when The Perfect Weapon was first announced but only Bazine is in this story. The strongest part of TPW is how it throws any assumptions one has about Bazine (after seeing those previous images) out of the airlock, as a first glance wouldn’t give most people any reason to believe she’s a highly competent and deadly mercenary for hire, using the tools of spycraft to become whatever she needs to be to get the job done. Everything about her is honed to be the best at what she does, even down to her outfit, where every piece has a function: concealing weapons, storing other outfits/disguises, and the perfect fit for a good fight or escape. She’s seemingly so good at what she does, one could say she’s the…perfect weapon (see what I did there? Well, the book does it first, so don’t knock me for it!). I’d highly recommend this short story just for Bazine alone, as she’s the strongest character in the story and I feel Dawson was able to do more with her than some full-length novels can do with their protagonists. Here’s hoping we get more stories about Bazine, whether she lives through or dies in The Force Awakens, as I certainly want to learn her real name. Oh yea, Bazine Netal…not her actual name. Mull on that one for a bit.
The story of TPW starts with Bazine receiving a new job—in the most mysterious way possible—to hunt down a case from an ex-stormtrooper hold up on one of the New Republic’s retirement/rehabilitation planets, Vashka; Her client also warns her that someone codenamed the Narglatch is also on the hunt and she should be cautious. Currently on Chaaktil, she visits her spy craft/fighting mentor Kloda to ask for a ship, which he gives to her on one condition: she take one of his green students, a Pantoran named Orri, out in the field to see some action. Narglatchs are animals native to Pantora and suddenly Bazine is on edge about her extra baggage, using all her considerable skills to outwit whomever the Narglatch may be and come away from the job alive and with the case.
From the very start, thanks to both Bazine’s disguises in the dive bar waiting for a new job and the protocol droid who relays the job to Vashka self destructing after giving the message, the short story has a very distinct spy-fi feel, to the point I’d almost call it Star Wars: Mission Impossible: The Bug Protocol. There’s a lot of tropes used within: Disguises? Check. Camera/Scanner Jamming with cool new technology? Check. The untrustworthy mentor? Check. Splicing into a secure building’s computers? Double check. Things quickly become predictable and the ‘twist’ ending is seen from a horizon away, but using some established spy genre tropes in ways Star Wars never really has makes TPW an enjoyable read as you’ll find yourself trying to predict that next trope or surprise. It’s like a James Bond movie in a way, as even though you know what will happen, it’s still a lot of fun to see how it goes about doing it.
For those interested in what hints TPW might hide in its pages for The Force Awakens there doesn’t seem to be terribly much, but that all might change in December once we see the movie. There are two things I’d like to mention and only one is concrete: #1) Kloda used to be Tasu Leech’s second, who we know will be in TFA thanks to first being revealed by a LEGO figure and a later coloring book. #2) I will say it’s curious to see the New Republic is essentially locking up ex-stormtroopers in asylums, and I wonder if it’s some type of response to the First Order’s bred-from-childhood stormtroopers and trying to weed through who is and isn’t working for them. But, seeing as this is set somewhere less than 6 years from TFA, it’s safe to say the NR is at least still a thing by TFA, so that begs the question of why there’s a Resistance faction in the first place? I’ve theorized before (and I’ve seen others come to the same conclusions) that the Resistance was formed because the NR has been demilitarized as Mon Mothma wanted in Aftermath. Even more curious: no mention of the First Order…when does the galaxy learn about them?
Here are a few other things:
- I like how the ex-stormtrooper Bazine finds who’s still alive had been at Endor, Aric Nightdrifter (love that name!), and with him being described as so old, certainly helps put the events of Return of the Jedi in perspective a bit more. The trooper who’s case Bazine is after was named Jor Tribulus, another name I totally dig.
- TPW‘s cover makes A LOT of sense once Bazine finds herself in the Apidactyls’ (i.e. ‘dacs’) hive. These aren’t your usual backyard bees though…
- This has the second mention of Echani arts as canon, the first was in Dark Disciple.
- Baffleweave, which distorts scanners to make the wearer ‘invisible,’ might be a little too on the nose, but I’m wondering when we’ll get to see the fabric again.
- Anyone else dying to know what’s in the case?
- The author, Delilah S. Dawson, shares a bit about how she came to write TPW.
- Bazine’s appearance is VERY short in The Force Awakens, but at least she gets to speak a line of dialogue!
- Carsten Bradley, who goes by @vagabonartist on Twitter, has been making alternative covers for Star Wars books. Here’s his take on TPW.
Delilah S. Dawson can come back to Star Wars and write as much spy-fi as she wants, especially if it stars Bazine. The Perfect Weapon is an excellent short story that uses its reliance on tropes to rope you in for a truly engaging and quick read.
+ Bazine Netal
+ Spy-fi fun
– A little too predictable
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
CANON NOVEL REVIEWS:
Battlefront: Twilight Company
Lords of the Sith
A New Dawn
Heir to the Jedi
CANON YOUNG ADULT NOVEL REVIEWS:
Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure
Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure
The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure
Before the Awakening
JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS SHORT STORY REVIEWS:
Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens