April 28 saw the release of Paul S. Kemp’s Lords of the Sith, the fourth novel in the new story-group approved canon, of which you can read our spoiler-free reviews here and Brian’s more in-depth review here. Along with being the first of the new books to focus on Darth Vader, Lords of the Sith holds the distinction of introducing the new canon’s first LGBTQIA+ character, Moff Delian Mors.
I found Moff Mors to be an interesting character and a welcome addition to the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Unfortunately, her introduction is handled with far less care than one would hope.
Moff Mors is introduced to us through the eyes of someone who not only holds no respect for her and looks down upon her but who also actively views her existence as an obstacle, focusing on her worst attributes and framing her in the worst possible light. So our first view at the first LGBTQIA+ character of the new canon is of a drug-addled, irresponsible, sex-slave-having governor hedonist having a likely illicit dealings with a Hutt. While her sexual orientation is, happily, not framed as being related to her many negative attributes, not coming up when her vices are listed, having the initial introduction of a queer character in the Galaxy Far, Far Away be one that focuses almost entirely on their incompetence and debauchery is unfortunate to say the least.
In addition to this is the disturbing description of her weight and appearance. As I mentioned earlier, Mors is heavy. This is not a problem. What is a problem is the amount to time spent describing her as grotesque, dwelling especially on her weight as though it were a physical manifestation of her debauchery. Her appearance is even compared to that of a Hutt, as well as to an “overfilled sausage.” And this isn’t an isolated incident. The chapter before Mors’ introduction is a scene in which Vader seems utterly fascinated with the twi’lek senator Orn Free Taa’s body fat, describing every movement with loving detail while using it to emphasize Taa’s incompetence and self-centeredness. Being heavy is linked with irresponsibility, excess, and self-absorption in this book. This is gross. This is unnecessary. And, considering the emphasis our society puts on women’s weight in particular, it is disturbing that Mors’ weight is especially focused on. With any character this would be unsettling but to introduce the first queer character in the canon and then immediately use her to reinforce all of our society’s negative stereotypes towards heavy people is especially disappointing.
Later on in the book Mors’ backstory is revealed and she becomes much more fleshed-out and sympathetic. Once she starts to care she shows herself to be a competent and intelligent. It is, unfortunately, much later in the book. She is not more fully fleshed out for over 140 pages after her initial appearance, which means that for nearly one half of the book’s page count she is associated with no positive attributes. As much as I enjoyed her later scenes, I know that there will be people who will not reach them precisely because they were put off by the earlier description and Mors’ better scenes come too late. That first scene leaves a strong impression and it is overpoweringly negative.
This isn’t to say that there weren’t great things about Mors. I was disappointed by her introduction but by the end of the books she’s shown to be an intelligent and competent woman in a position of authority. By the end of the book, our first queer character is a heavy, not traditionally attractive, intelligent, competent woman in a position of authority with a sympathetic backstory. She’s not fetishized at all, her sexual orientation is made plain while not being her defining trait, and it’s fantastic that a queer character was introduced so early into the new canon. It’s just a shame that that first scene cast a pall over the book. I hope that Moff Mors appears in more stories soon and is joined by more queer characters in the near future.