This post contains spoilers from Maul: Lockdown.
Maul: Lockdown had more similarities to Razor’s Edge, the previous Star Wars release, than I expected, including female characters with a lot to unpack. I predicted some time ago that the author would have a hard time fitting female characters into a story about an all-male jail, but there are two: Warden Sadiki Blirr and dark Jedi Komari Vosa.
“It was always my intention to have the Warden of Cog Hive Seven be a woman -- that just made sense to me.” said Schreiber in an interview.
As the warden of Cog Hive Seven, Sadiki Blirr has a lot of authority. She and her brother are as vicious and cold as their jobs would imply - if she operated within the Republic, Blirr would likely be in jail herself. She’s given no quarter because of her gender, and was involved in what I thought were the most frightening scenes in the book.
Both female characters are described as beautiful despite their circumstances, which I could have done without. It seems like every woman in the Star Wars is uncontestedly beautiful, and none of the men get so much attention paid to their appearance except to point out how grotesque they are.
The second woman is Komari Vosa, who first appeared in Bounty Hunter (a game I’ve never played) and who became infatuated with her Jedi Master, Dooku. It’s unclear where the book takes place in the timeline of her life as told on Wookieepedia, but it’s possible that it is one of her first missions as a dark sider. At times she seems like a chaotic figure, similar to Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter; at other moments she seems to be set up as an ally for Maul. She is the capstone of the novel, really. Komari doesn’t really come out of nowhere, in that the Bando Gora were mentioned the whole time, but if you don’t know her backstory it feels a bit like she does. She’s a powerful figure, a masked woman at the command of a masked army, although the mask is off by the end of the book and there’s a little bit of vulnerability there. She and Maul save each other.
Schreiber writes that Vosa was the more difficult of the two, partially because she was an established character: “I wanted to stay true to whatever we knew about her already -- there wasn’t a ton of information out there, but there was enough that I didn’t want to screw it up, and I had to consult a few Star Wars fans who were a lot smarter than me and get their advice before proceeding. In the end, I’ll just say it was a lot of fun having the opportunity to get inside her head.”
I only know about Bounty Hunter from Wookieepedia, but it does seem like Schreiber did a good job of giving some dimension and color to a pretty straightforward antagonist. She’s not an incredibly unique character, reminding me of both Ventress and Tavion from the Jedi Academy video game. Sadiki does better on that front.
It’s ironic that on the Coffee With Kenobi podcast last month I was struggling to think of another female crime lord besides Viest in Razor’s Edge - Sadiki fits the mold while having a very different attitude and different tactics.
The last year in Star Wars especially has given lie both to the assertion that science fiction stories led by women won’t be successful and to the assertion that there aren’t any varied female characters. Leia and many others in Razor’s Edge, Ania Solo in Legacy II, Annileen in Kenobi, and Lanoree in Into the Void have lead some pretty great Star Wars stories. There’s still the occasional problem child, like Laranth Tarak in The Last Jedi getting the classic fridge treatment in order to increase the male lead’s angst. I would have liked a few more incidental female characters in Lockdown - a pilot for Jabba the Hutt, maybe, or someone marginally involved with Darth Sidious’ plot on Coruscant, or even the head of the gambling commission. I also would have liked if Sadiki didn’t have to use her feminine wiles at a major plot point. But Lockdown did a lot better than I thought it would integrating female characters into the story. There’s no denying they’re there, and there’s no denying that they’re important.