The newest Star Wars book explores Poe Dameron’s spice-running days. Written by Alex Segura, Poe Dameron: Free Fall starts off when Poe Dameron is 16 years old and just wants to fly around the galaxy just like his mother had, as she was a pilot in the Rebellion. Unfortunately, his mother had passed away when he was eight years old and all he has left is his father, who wants to keep him around at home on Yavin 4. One fateful evening on Yavin 4, though. a crew is looking for a pilot and Poe Dameron is looking to both leave his home planet and fly a ship, and both get what they want.
Well, sort of.
Poe Dameron enjoys his months of flying around the galaxy with this crew, especially since one of them is the similarly-aged and attractive Zorii Bliss, whom we see on-screen in The Rise of Skywalker, and a teenage relationship blooms. Yet, this crew turns out to be spice runners.
Learning Lightspeed Skipping
Towards the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker, we see Poe hyperspace skipping, yielding concern from Finn. Where’d he learn to do that? In Free Fall, we see Poe learn to do it, which is described to him in the following way:
“It’s risky,” Zorii said, her voice grim. “But it can buy us some time until Marinda can pinpoint that tracker. Basically, we hyperspace jump along a series of preset coordinates. They are supposed to seem random to the ship’s on our tail, but they’re not.” (108)
The group that Poe falls in with is a cell from the Spice Runners of Kijimi. If the name Kijimi rings a bell, it’s because it’s the cold planet where Poe takes the protagonists of The Rise of Skywalker to visit. It is more fully described in this book:
Kijimi was unlike anything Poe had ever imagined – dark, dangerous, and subzero in both temperature and feeling. It was a thieves’ planet run by thieves’ rules, where anything went as long as you stole it fairly – which was a moving target, in and of itself. Every corner seemed panicked and fraught with possibility – a deal, double-cross, or threat. The planet’s endless nights and brief, fleeting bursts of daylight, which only served to showcase the crime and cracks that made up the world’s aging, ancient infrastructure. (311-312)
The Galactic Underworld
In Poe Dameron: Free Fall, we get glimpses of what has been going on in the galactic criminal underworld. We read that “The collapse of the Empire had created a seismic shake-up in the galactic criminal underworld. The battle for Kessel spice had become chaotic with various gangs vying for a hold on the market. Processing terminals like Obah Diah and Formos that had once boasted Imperial Mining Guild protection were now easy targets…” (76).
Pyke Syndicate’s Diminished Influence
While the Pyke Syndicate had been significant during the Clone Wars, it had become “a fading but still formidable galactic criminal organization” (129). Furthermore, “The Pykes had once controlled almost all of the galaxy’s raw spice, a staggering accomplishment. After the Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War, their influence had sputtered – opening the door for smaller, more vicious groups to try to claim territory. These new fringe groups posed a threat not only to the fading Pyke Syndicate, but to the Spice Runners of Kijimi, as well” (130).
Guavian Death Gang’s Powers
Intriguingly, we learn about the Guavian Death Gang, “a cabal chased out of the Core Worlds by their fellow thieves, murderers, and bounty hunters” (215). Here’s what is wild: “The Guavian soldiers underwent surgical procedures to augment their physical attributes with cybernetic implants – mechanical reservoirs that pumped chemicals into their bloodstreams to amplify their rage and speed. Most frightening of all, the Death Gang members didn’t make much noise when they approached – communicating with each other via some kind of high-frequency comlink” (215-216).
Ultimately, though, Poe’s heart is not with spice-running, but with Zorii. And, as we saw in The Rise of Skywalker, they were no longer together by the book’s end, and Poe leaves behind his spice-running days. We don’t know if he goes straight from this book to the New Republic Navy, but it seems that it was his next stop in his life journey, as he is in that military force prior to joining the Resistance, as we read in Before the Awakening when he leaves the New Republic Navy to join the Resistance. The book’s intended target audience of teenagers seems right on, as it centers around a restless teenager looking to leave home and experience life beyond the safe confines of where he grew up.
Published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Poe Dameron: Free Fall hits bookshelves tomorrow.
A review copy was provided for review purposes.