Hello again my fellow Star Wars fans, I finally finished the new SW book: Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston let me tell you…it was one helluva emotional roller-coaster. Seriously, I’m not going to lie…I cried. Like a lot. It’s probably sad how emotional I got, but I’m a crier and I’ve come to terms with that. Anyway, I told y’all a few posts ago that I’d write more of a review once I actually finished the book and that time has come at last! That being said…MAJOR SPOILERS ARE AHEAD – so if you don’t want to know anything about the book or are planning to read it yourself, maybe save this post for later because I have some serious tea to spill and I’m not great at keeping secrets!
First and foremost, let me just say: Thank the Maker and E.K. Johnston! As a prequel and Padme fan, this book is one I’ve been waiting for since I first saw Padme onscreen when I was nine years old! We get so little of our favorite Queen/Senator in the fandom (in official avenues or otherwise) so I was totally ready for this book, especially since I heard about it almost a year ago and have been frantically patiently waiting for it ever since. Not only does it have one of the most stunning covers I’ve ever seen, but damn if Ms. Johnston didn’t capture Padme’s voice perfectly! I literally had chills the entire first chapter!
Coming back to this time and place and people that I left behind so many years ago and knowing what was coming ahead for them but not how they were going to get there was insane. It was like watching Ani fall to the darkside for the first time all over again: here was Padme just living her life and it was almost as if we could reach out and touch her, warn her of the terrors and dangers ahead. A beautiful window was suddenly open to a time before death and darkness had settled over the galaxy, and maybe, just maybe we could make a difference. Alter fate. But no, no matter how much we want to save our beloved Padme, we’re left helpless, our words of warning remain unheard and we know, once the book is finished, Padme will still die. But still, for the first time we have her perspective, her voice, her words. Padme is telling the story for once, and not the story we already know, but one in that time in-between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, a time of trial and change where she is becoming the powerhouse political advocate we know her to be. This Padme is preparing to give up her Queendom and life on Naboo to take on her next great challenge: the galactic Senate.
But it’s not just Padme that we share this adventure with, it’s her handmaidens – those brave shadowy women that guard Amidala and put themselves in danger so that she may survive. Make no mistake about it, these women are ready to die for their Queen/Senator/Friend, and some of them actually do. To be a handmaiden is to stare into the face of death and say: take me.
Considering there are so few female characters in Star Wars, I have always been fascinated by these mysterious, brave women… I mean who are they? What are their stories? What are their truths? What have they seen and what secrets do they keep? Until now we’ve never known, but this book delves right into the heart of the handmaidens and their relationship with Padme and the outside world. Their voices and scenes with Padme are my absolute favorite part of Queen’s Shadow, they just radiate power and capability. These young women are badass, even if no-one else around them knows it – and when it comes down to it, that’s precisely how they’d prefer it!
It’s upsetting that the films never explored the lives of the handmaidens before, but in fairness, there was a much larger story to tell and only so much time to tell it. That’s why books like Queen’s Shadow are so important, they fill in the blanks for so many awesome characters and content that the films just don’t have space to. I truly hope that in the wake of upcoming shows like The Mandalorian, we get a live-action series about these fierce women who gave their lives and identities to their Queen and their planet. We are brave Your Highness.
Over all this book was everything I wanted it to be. It was empowering and emotional and I could hear Padme speaking through it. There wasn’t any huge flip-twist-surprise at the end like some other SW novels and I was completely ok with that. This reads as more of a character study than an action novel, we’re finally given time to understand how Padme thinks and feels and reacts on her own and in her own words. I would have been okay with more drama, but even without it, this story was superb! We don’t often get to see Padme outside of her relationship with Anakin or any of the other male leads, so with Queen’s Shadow she is finally given a chance to shine on her own, to dominate. And my God was she and her handmaidens fierce as hell.
**Stay tuned for the second part of this review where I breakdown the Top 5 revelations from Queen’s Shadow and their impact on the Star Wars legacy!