The Phantom Menace: A Mother’s Love and Legacy

One of the great tragedies of the Star Wars saga is that it is so epic and sprawling and continuously moving forward that sometimes great characters or ideas are lost in the unceasing momentum. True, this is occasionally rectified by tie-in novels, comics, or other mediums, but other times the audience is left with simply no other information or background but what their own imaginations can create. This is especially true for the Mother of the Skywalker line: Shmi Skywalker. Who is this amazing woman, what was her story? What was her life like before Anakin? Did she have any inkling of how his future would turn out? Would she have changed anything if she did? We simply just don’t know. But what we do know about this powerhouse of a woman is that she was kind, gracious, brave, and that she taught Anakin to be the best version of himself while he was in her care.


Shmi’s backstory is one I’ve wanted to hear since she arrived onscreen for the first time back in 1999. I mean, the mother of Darth Vader…it doesn’t get much more compelling than that. I still have hope that sometime in the future the full story of her life might come to light in one form or another, but just because she isn’t onscreen or visibly present for much of the saga doesn’t mean that she doesn’t play a key role in the entire future of her family line and the galaxy at large. Shmi’s interactions with both Padme and Anakin fundamentally change them and sets them on a path that brings fulfillment to not only their fated-destinies, but to their personal lives as well. Although she was just a slave on a backwater gangster-ridden desert planet, Shmi Skywalker’s influence is felt in every corner of the galaxy and continues to be present even in the time of the sequel trilogy.

“There was no father. I carried him, I gave birth, I raised him. I can’t explain what happened.” — Shmi Skywalker

As I’ve noted before, from what we can see, Shmi is given a life most would have cracked beneath. A female slave who bore a fatherless child into a world where they’re bought and sold, won and lost on the whims of villains and cutthroats… she very easily (and understandably) could have been portrayed as bitter and vindictive. A harsh presence that we as the audience would have wanted Ani taken away from and who would have made most of us go: yep, that’s why he turned out so bad. But that’s not what we’re given at all. Instead we’re presented with a strong, kind, and incredibly warm mother who only wants the best for her son and for the galaxy at large. Instead of letting the darkness in her life hold sway, she seeks out the light, seeks out the hope and the kindness and the best in people and that’s what she instills in her son. She teaches him that although the galaxy is harsh, people are still worth helping and that it is their duty to reach out a hand to their fellow people.

That is one reason why The Phantom Menace is such an integral part of the Star Wars saga, it the only time we get to see what Anakin is like without Jedi-interference. Yes, he meets Qui-Gon and sets his feet on the path the Force has designed for him, but we also see that he is just a little boy who loves his mother and who genuinely and unselfishly wants to help people because that’s the type of person he was raised to be. This Anakin is the one most people forget about, the one that was told he wasn’t good enough by a council of grown-ass men because he understood his own emotions and wasn’t afraid to admit to his fear. This is the Anakin that Shmi raised, that she instilled her core beliefs in, and it is this Anakin that we mourn we he finally loses himself to Darth Vader. Without seeing Shmi’s Anakin, Shmi’s son, Vader is just a villain without a greater purpose. It is Shmi and her influence that ultimately humanizes the man we all thought to be the greatest monster in the galaxy. And it is the callous disregarding of her influence that shows us who the actual villains really are.

Even in the face of crushing sorrow, Shmi displays nothing but quiet strength and unending love, teaching Anakin to do the same. When Qui-Gon presents him with a seemingly better life without her, she doesn’t falter, doesn’t give into jealousy or act selfishly. She lets her son go and gives him the courage to leave her without looking back. And because of her example and her belief in him, Anakin can let go. It is only later, when the Jedi have instructed him to forfeit the teachings of his mother and suppress his feelings, that Anakin panics and latches on to the things he fears to lose. Even later, after facing abduction, torture, pain, and absolute primal fear, Shmi leaves the world – and Anakin – with words and expressions of love. She doesn’t rail against fate, or demand retribution or vengeance, she shows absolute joy and tells her son (with a mother’s affection) that he’s grown…and that she loves him. She leaves Anakin with one last example of how to face the greatest darkness in the world, and although it takes longer for this lesson to come to visual fruition, Anakin ultimately does the same for his son.

“Will I ever see you again?” — Anakin Skywalker
“What does your heart tell you?” — Shmi Skywalker
“I hope so. Yes… I guess.” –Anakin
“Then we will see each other again.” — Shmi
. . .
“Now, be brave, and don’t look back. Don’t look back.” — Shmi

Likewise, her influence on Padme is equally notable and equally long-lasting. Before arriving on Tattooine, Padme Amidala was a Queen in title, but as a person she was uncertain about her voice and how to use the great responsibility and power she had been given. Although intelligent and eager, she is untested and doesn’t know how to harness her power. In the larger scope of things, she is incredibly unknowledgeable about the actual lives and conditions of people outside her own world. She has no concept that the Senate might be powerless in certain places and doesn’t realize that the horrors and atrocities she thinks are things of the past in her privileged world, are alive and rampant on others.

“The Republic doesn’t exist out here. We must survive on our own.” — Shmi Skywalker

It is only after she meets Shmi and Anakin and experiences – even if for only a short time – the desolate, seemingly impossible, and hopeless nature of their lives, that she starts to truly assert herself. She finds her voice and uses it to win back her planet’s freedom and unite its broken populace. She goes on in the next two films to become one of the loudest voices in the Senate, demanding change and is even targeted with death-threats because she refuses to back down and remain unheard. Shmi gave Padme an honest view into a life she never could have known on her own world, and Padme spends the rest of her life being a voice for people like Shmi who otherwise wouldn’t have one to be heard.

Shmi’s example of kindness and resilience echo on through the galaxy through her son and his wife and later by their children. And as we saw in the closing moments of The Last Jedi, Luke and Leia have far-reaching influences of their own, and that influence of hope and kindness just further spreads their grandmother’s teaching across the vastness of space. From across the galaxy, spanning time and death itself, one slave’s influence and light reaches another slave and brings with it hope.

That is Shmi’s legacy. That is her gift to the galaxy and to the Star Wars saga itself: the knowledge that that even in darkness, there is light — even in hate, there is love. You decide how you see the world, you can choose to be a victim or to be a light for others in the darkness.

 

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The Phantom Menace: A Queen’s Victory

Obi-Wan Kenobi may have overcome the epic new darksider Darth Maul in the finale of The Phantom Menace with one of the most powerful songs in the history of film playing in the background, but I think it’s safe to say that the true victory of the first installment of the Star Wars saga is unequivocally Padme Amidala’s. With her unerring bravery, compassion, intellect, determination, and lack of self-sabotaging ego, Padme goes from a young Queen under attack to a bold ruler who negotiates and fights both on and off the battlefield to secure the safety of both herself and her world’s peoples. Even with the accompaniment of two of the order’s most capable Jedi sent to assist her, it is Padme who ultimately formulates the plan to end the Trade Federation’s unlawful occupation of Naboo and while doing so, mend the tattered relations with the other Sentient race of Naboo, the Gungans.

In a series that is so dominated by masculine heroes and ideals, I think it’s incredibly impactful and telling that the prequels begin the origin of the Skywalker saga with the victory of a woman, a Queen. I have no issue with Luke as the main hero in the originals, he’s the one I’ve rooted for my whole life, the man I emulated and hoped to be like. Leia was strong and fierce and amazing, but she is sometimes overshadowed by her twin brother and even that rascal who won her heart: Han Solo. The victories, even the typically more feminine emotional ones, were mostly male accomplishments. So when the first great battle of the new trilogy was won by a girl about my age, let me tell you, it made me feel so powerful, so capable of anything.

“I will sign no treaty Senator. My fate will be no different to that of our people.” — Queen Amidala

And what made it even more impactful was witnessing Padme’s frailty, her fear and hesitation, because not only did it humanize her, but it made her so much more real. Leia was ALWAYS the baddest b*tch in the galaxy and she knew it, but it was nice and important to see the perceived weakness grow into the strength that saves the day.

Over the course of the film, we are visually bombarded with similar scenes of Padme trying to stand her ground and make life or death decisions while her councilmen, pilots, head of security, Jedi ambassadors, senators, and even the lackluster Supreme Chancellor all vie to make their opinion her decision.

Even after being whisked away by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, Padme is lost and noticeably alone amongst her troupe of male saviors, but she doesn’t let that fear keep her from acting. (Yes, she has her handmaidens by her side some of the way – and yes, they are hella epic – but onscreen we don’t get too much of them.) She refuses to be left behind while Qui-Gon scouts Mos Espa for supplies to fix their ship, and it is her determination to see the world for herself and her curiosity of life outside of her own limited view that leads her to understand the issues of the galaxy at large – which later impacts her decision to remain in the political arena once her term as Queen has ended. She meets with people who have no voice, people who have no choice in their own lives… it’s not surprising that afterward she becomes one of the loudest voices in the room.

“I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die while you discuss this invasion in a committee!” — Queen Amidala

It’s here that Padme meets the only other impactful woman in The Phantom Menace: Shmi Skywalker. Shmi is a slave and an only mother raising an extremely gifted young son on a planet where she is considered cattle to be bought and sold, won and lost to the highest bidder. She easily could have been portrayed as bitter, a spiteful shrew how hates the galaxy for doing her wrong, but instead we’re given a powerful, peaceful woman who sees the evils thrown her way and stands tall with pride and compassion. I have more to say about Shmi, but that’s for another post…suffice it to say, we see a noticeable difference in Padme after she encounters the Mother of the Skywalker line.

“The Republic doesn’t exist out here. We must survive on our own.” — Shmi Skywalker

The Padme that emerges from Tattooine is more grounded, surer of herself and the actions she must take. She still doesn’t know how to right the wrongs of the Trade Federation, but now she sees the plight of others outside of herself and her people…which in time leads her to Jar-Jar and the hidden strength of the Gungan army. Padme’s decision to appeal to the Gungans showcases the greatest lesson she’s learned since leaving her home-planet: that great evil can be conquered not only by force, but by intelligence and compassion. It is her humility and lack of ego, something she learned to put aside on Tattooine, that convinces the Gungans to help her, and it is only with their combined efforts that they free their planet.

“I ask you to help us… no, I beg you to help us.” — Queen Amidala

This is Padme’s greatest victory: a battle for justice and peace hard-won by brute force and intellect, her compassion for life as well as her passion for her planet, her selflessness as a woman, and her power as a Queen. A true middle-ground, a shade of gray, placed here in the first movie as an example of what can come of later is others follow in her footsteps. I can only hope to see her legacy live on in her grandson, another leader who has the greatest lesson to learn and everything that matters to either win…or lose.

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The Phantom Menace: The Reign Of A Queen


“I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war.”  — Queen Amidala

I remember being in awe of Padme Amidala the moment she appeared onscreen in The Phantom Menace. She was — for lack of a better word — just epic.

Like everyone else in the packed theater, I didn’t know she was actually Leia’s mom, but between her unforgettable fashion and her unwavering bravery, I knew I had found a new Star Wars woman to look up to and I was captivated.  She was only a few years older than me (back in 1999) yet she seemed so much older and wiser than my lackluster nine-year old self. Padme was fearless, steady, intelligent, and elegant — pretty much everything I ever wanted to be. When she first appeared onscreen before the Trade Federation she was unflinching and unbreakable; she refused to accept defeat, and instead held her head high as she fought against the illegal invasion of her home-world. Simply put: she was a badass. I mean it’s no wonder Leia was such a spitfire princess and rebellion-leader!

Even on Naboo amongst her own council Padme stands stalwart and alone amidst a sea of men, each telling her what he thinks she should do, vying for her attention, and forcefully declaring their opinion to be the only valid one. Visually, it’s a powerful scene and as a woman it’s even more so because it would have been so easy to have her listen to one of them, to have her admit defeat, and then wait to be rescued by the heroic Jedi knights. But instead we see her hold her ground, frightened and alone as she is, she stands up for her own point of view — expressing herself elegantly but forcefully. And most importantly, we see this determined young Queen actively decide her own fate.

It is Padme’s choice to leave Naboo and appeal for help abroad, it is her choice to follow Qui-Gon into the desert-swept town of Mos Espa, and then to step before the galactic Senate and speak the truth that no one else wanted to hear. And when no help was offered from said Senate, it was Padme’s choice to humble herself before the other occupants of Naboo and ask for their assistance securing the planet. Every step of the way, for good or for ill, Padme is an active participant in her life, she doesn’t shirk decision-making or side-step taking the first step. She evaluates situations as they arise and she alters her course to ensure that her people and her planet are cared-for to the best of her abilities. She is no figurehead Queen. Padme is a battle-tested monarch, a woman born to rule and brave enough to do it.

With a blaster in hand and a razor-sharp intellect, Padme Amidala is one hell of a role-model for the prequel-era generation – or any generation at that. She makes mistakes like everyone else around her, she wrestles with fear and sorrow, and struggles to beat back political oppression and manipulation but through everything thrown her way, she never stops believing in herself or the power that inherently resides within her. She even stands up to my favorite Jedi: Qui-Gon Jinn when she believes his judgement to be skewed. and if that’s not self-assurance and bravery I don’t know what is. She is a woman I proudly modeled myself after then and now, and when I think of the prequel trilogy it is her iconic lines that run through my head, her wisdom that shapes the way I see the story. Her life may have been unexpectedly short, but it’s impact stretched to the far reaches of the galaxy and her strength, determination, and bravery were nevermore present than here, right from the beginning in The Phantom Menace.

 

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Epic Star Wars Women!

I don’t know about you, my starfighters, but I love me some Star Wars! Shocking I know but can you blame me?! There’s epic space battles, heart-melting romance, mystical forces, and characters that exist so vividly that they almost literally leap off the screen!!! You tell me Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t actually exist somewhere out in the cosmos and I’m sorry but we can’t be friends, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life 😉

But seriously, we get so many wonderfully rich, multi-faceted characters from the series and for me as a writer, I appreciate just how “real” they feel. This doesn’t happen with just every story, it takes a certain something extra for characters to truly come alive outside their films or books and I think it’s because they (the Luscasfilm/SW writers) really take the time to flesh characters out. Real people have motivations for everything they do, there are always precedents inspiring their reactions and actions, and perhaps most importantly, no one stays the same their whole life, people are never the same person they were more than once, and SW displays that beautifully (Luke in TLJ). It’s inspiring to see such a well-crafted universe filled with so many diverse characters, and with the books and animated shows (which I fully admit, I’m not completely caught up on yet) they just keep adding to this amazing lexicon.

There’s always a million off-shoot stories I want to see and characters we encounter that I want to follow further, but for today I want to focus on the ladies of Star Wars that I think need more screen/book/etc. time. I’m going to exclude Leia and Rey from this just because I understand we won’t get much more Rey content until the sequel trilogy is finished, and because over the past few years we’ve already been given some awesome new Leia content! So, let’s get to it shall we!

1) Ciena Ree — The female protagonist from Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars, Ciena is such an eye-opening character in so many ways. From the planet Jelucan, Ciena is a woman whose life is dictated by honor and the demands of keeping her word. She begins as a little girl with a dream to pilot the greatest ships in the galaxy and through that desire, leads us first-hand into the life of an Imperial Officer. I always wondered what kind of person would willingly work in such a horrid place as the Death Star, what would make someone think that what they were doing was acceptable? And following Ciena’s story, it opened my eyes to how many good people were manipulated into such a life. We see as she rejects the idea of the Empire doing any wrong because it conflicts with her upbringing of honor above all, we watch as she rationalizes the horrors around her, then finally as she accepts that the organization she’s pledged her life to, staked her life’s honor on, IS the great evil in the galaxy. And I have some interesting ideas on how she can easily enter the SW films themselves…

2) Kendy Idele — A delightful emerald-haired addition in the Lost Stars novel by Claudia Gray, Kendy is originally an Imperial cadet/officer during Palpatine’s reign but after the introduction of the Death Star and the evils she witnesses first hand she heroically switches side and joins the Rebel Alliance! She’s a sharpshooter extraordinaire and X-Wing pilot with the Corona Squadron whose hatred for the Empire rings with such emotional-comprehension that I would just love to see her again in perhaps a novel of her own.

3) Greer Sonnel — Introduced to us as the enigmatic personal assistant to Senator Leia Organa, Greer immediately caught my attention in Claudia Gray’s epic novel Bloodline. There was just something about her that stuck out to me as I was reading, something that I couldn’t put my finger on… She was competent, intelligent, and oddly uncomfortable in the life she was living. For a moment I thought she might be a spy for the upcoming First Order, but then we’re given more of her backstory and we learn that Greer’s story is a little more tragic than espionage-filled.  An up and coming young pilot, Greer developed a rare disease that literally made the thing she trained her whole life for — what she wanted most in the galaxy — the thing that was going to kill her. Han Solo himself (her mentor/friend) asked Leia to take her in and although she knows flying will one day kill her, Greer can’t help but yearn for the one thing that makes her feel most alive. In the end, she chooses to help Leia rebuild the resistance, knowing that once again, evil was stretching across the galaxy. Greer deserves a solo book of her own — perhaps with a dash of romance with her fellow pilot Joph Seastricker! — her tale has the potential to be emotionally devastating: a fierce, intelligent woman who chooses to fight for the greater good, despite knowing that each time she sits in the cockpit she is closer and closer to death!

4) Amilyn Holdo — Introduced to most in The Last Jedi, Holdo actually makes her first appearance in Claudia Gray’s Leia, Princess of Alderaan where she admittedly is the odd one out in sixteen-year old Leia’s new crop of companions on her journey to being named the crown princess of Alderaan. As much as I enjoyed the strong, self-sacrificing woman Holdo became in TLJ, it’s her character in Leia, POA that really struck me as fascinating. Amilyn is someone who knows her own mind and doesn’t feel like she has to explain herself to those around her, she makes wild, often unsettling statements that have an uncanny habit of coming true later in the story. She sees things in a way that Leia (and myself as the reader) cannot comprehend and most of the time she just seems flat-out weird, a kind person perhaps, but definitely strange. But in reality there’s a next-level intelligence bursting from Holdo that I don’t think she knows how to communicate yet, but then again, I don’t think she feels like she has to explain herself, other people will catch up to her eventually (for example her not telling Poe about Crait). And she’s one of the most loyal, brave friends that Leia ever encounters, not only risking her life to help her friend, but standing by her side when Leia faces her first devastating loss. Amilyn teaches Leia how to find and center herself amidst suffocating depression and this is the Holdo I want to see more of!

5) Breha Organa — The Queen of Alderaan herself people! Leia’s adoptive mother was briefly seen in the closing scenes of Revenge of the Sith and is seen more frequently in Leia, Princess of Alderaan, but there is so much more I want to know about the woman that shaped Leia into the feisty, hero that she is! What was it like for her to raise the daughter of a woman she most likely had met, or at least was a friend of her husband’s? What was it like to know that her child was the offspring of another Queen and a Jedi, the unknown daughter of Vader herself? The fear she must have felt knowing that Palpatine and Vader were out there in the same galaxy as Leia… it makes my heart shudder thinking about it. In POA she mentions that she nearly died while completing her own tasks to be named crown princess of Alderaan, I’d love a narrative of this, or of her and Bail’s courtship in the time before the Galactic Civil War. There’s just so much that can be written about Breha and I think the world deserves to hear more about this epic Queen who defied an evil Emperor!

6) Qi’ra —  Introduced to us in Solo: A Star Wars Movie and in the book Most Wanted by Rae Carson, Qi’ra is the literal definition of an enigma! She’s street-smart, confident, and hyper intelligent, but that’s really about all we know! There’s such a big chunk of time between Most Wanted and the opening scene of Solo, and again between when Han and her get separated and reunited in Solo in which sooooo much obviously happens, and we know the result but not the reasons why she does what she does and chooses what she chooses. Obviously her relationship with Han is fascinating, but I feel like it’s  completely unfinished at the moment and there is more to tell there before he goes and his own way and meets Leia. I have a hard time imagining Han letting go of her so easily, so we definitely need to see what she’s doing with Maul. Whether she comes back in a sequel to Solo (which I would LOVE), or we get a book in her perspective, we need information about this epic new character!

7) Shmi Skywalker — This is the Skywalker woman we need to know more about! Shmi was the original driving force behind Anakin’s teetering to the dark side, his absolute love and devotion to her lead him down a shadowy path when she was taken from him, and I feel like there is so much we can learn from her. What was her life like before Anakin, what was her mental state when she realized what was happening to her (the pregnancy), and what were those early years with just her and Ani like? Did she sense Ani’s potential for great emotion, or wonder if that could ever go wrong? I mean, we have here one of the strongest, most capable mother’s in the Star Wars universe, and we just don’t get enough of her! Personally I would like to see her impact her great-grandson in some way, whether she comes to him in a dream, or like Rey, Ben touches something that holds memories of her and he sees her for the first time. Shmi just embodies steadiness and love and that’s what Kylo/Ben needs!

8) Padme Amidala — Last but certainly not least in my perspective, we are dire need for more Padme in the Star Wars universe! I know she was featured on the Clone Wars television show, but I haven’t seen much of it and what I have seen (while wonderful) still has her as a more secondary character. I’d love to see her get some novels of her own much like Leia, (Come on Claudia Gray, I’m counting on you!!!). Whether we go back to her early years before she was queen, or right after TPM, or those few precious years she and Anakin shared together there is just so much that can be explored. Padme is a strong, intelligent, brave woman and her impact on the galaxy is still felt now in the sequel trilogy. You can see her in Leia, in Ben even, and it’s such a missed opportunity not to see her again. (Yes, I’ve seen that she’s going to be in the new Thrawn novel, but against, that’s someone else’s book, not her own!) Bring back Padme, the Senator, the Queen, the lover of the Chosen One, and the Mother of the future of the galaxy!

And there you have it my starfighters, the epic women of Star Wars that we DESPERATELY NEED MORE OF!!! Were there any that I missed, any that I might have overlooked? Who’s your favorite of the SW ladies? Let me know in the comments! And remember: May the Force be with you!

The Star Wars Women We Need More Of!!!

I don’t know about you, my starfighters, but I love me some Star Wars! Shocking I know but can you blame me?! There’s epic space battles, heart-melting romance, mystical forces, and characters that exist so vividly that they almost literally leap off the screen!!! You tell me Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t actually exist somewhere out in the cosmos and I’m sorry but we can’t be friends, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life 😉

But seriously, we get so many wonderfully rich, multi-faceted characters from the series and for me as a writer, I appreciate just how “real” they feel. This doesn’t happen with just every story, it takes a certain something extra for characters to truly come alive outside their films or books and I think it’s because they (the Luscasfilm/SW writers) really take the time to flesh characters out. Real people have motivations for everything they do, there are always precedents inspiring their reactions and actions, and perhaps most importantly, no one stays the same their whole life, people are never the same person they were more than once, and SW displays that beautifully (Luke in TLJ). It’s inspiring to see such a well-crafted universe filled with so many diverse characters, and with the books and animated shows (which I fully admit, I’m not completely caught up on yet) they just keep adding to this amazing lexicon.

There’s always a million off-shoot stories I want to see and characters we encounter that I want to follow further, but for today I want to focus on the ladies of Star Wars that I think need more screen/book/etc. time. I’m going to exclude Leia and Rey from this just because I understand we won’t get much more Rey content until the sequel trilogy is finished, and because over the past few years we’ve already been given some awesome new Leia content! So, let’s get to it shall we!

1) Ciena Ree — The female protagonist from Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars, Ciena is such an eye-opening character in so many ways. From the planet Jelucan, Ciena is a woman whose life is dictated by honor and the demands of keeping her word. She begins as a little girl with a dream to pilot the greatest ships in the galaxy and through that desire, leads us first-hand into the life of an Imperial Officer. I always wondered what kind of person would willingly work in such a horrid place as the Death Star, what would make someone think that what they were doing was acceptable? And following Ciena’s story, it opened my eyes to how many good people were manipulated into such a life. We see as she rejects the idea of the Empire doing any wrong because it conflicts with her upbringing of honor above all, we watch as she rationalizes the horrors around her, then finally as she accepts that the organization she’s pledged her life to, staked her life’s honor on, IS the great evil in the galaxy. And I have some interesting ideas on how she can easily enter the SW films themselves… but that’s another post entirely!

2) Kendy Idele — A delightful emerald-haired addition in the Lost Stars novel by Claudia Gray, Kendy is originally an Imperial cadet/officer during Palpatine’s reign but after the introduction of the Death Star and the evils she witnesses first hand she heroically switches side and joins the Rebel Alliance! She’s a sharpshooter extraordinaire and X-Wing pilot with the Corona Squadron whose hatred for the Empire rings with such emotional-comprehension that I would just love to see her again in perhaps a novel of her own.

3) Greer Sonnel — Introduced to us as the enigmatic personal assistant to Senator Leia Organa, Greer immediately caught my attention in Claudia Gray’s epic novel Bloodline. There was just something about her that stuck out to me as I was reading, something that I couldn’t put my finger on… She was competent, intelligent, and oddly uncomfortable in the life she was living. For a moment I thought she might be a spy for the upcoming First Order, but then we’re given more of her backstory and we learn that Greer’s story is a little more tragic than espionage-filled.  An up and coming young pilot, Greer developed a rare disease that literally made the thing she trained her whole life for — what she wanted most in the galaxy — the thing that was going to kill her. Han Solo himself (her mentor/friend) asked Leia to take her in and although she knows flying will one day kill her, Greer can’t help but yearn for the one thing that makes her feel most alive. In the end, she chooses to help Leia rebuild the resistance, knowing that once again, evil was stretching across the galaxy. Greer deserves a solo book of her own — perhaps with a dash of romance with her fellow pilot Joph Seastricker! — her tale has the potential to be emotionally devastating: a fierce, intelligent woman who chooses to fight for the greater good, despite knowing that each time she sits in the cockpit she is closer and closer to death!

4) Amilyn Holdo — Introduced to most in The Last Jedi, Holdo actually makes her first appearance in Claudia Gray’s Leia, Princess of Alderaan where she admittedly is the odd one out in sixteen-year old Leia’s new crop of companions on her journey to being named the crown princess of Alderaan. As much as I enjoyed the strong, self-sacrificing woman Holdo became in TLJ, it’s her character in Leia, POA that really struck me as fascinating. Amilyn is someone who knows her own mind and doesn’t feel like she has to explain herself to those around her, she makes wild, often unsettling statements that have an uncanny habit of coming true later in the story. She sees things in a way that Leia (and myself as the reader) cannot comprehend and most of the time she just seems flat-out weird, a kind person perhaps, but definitely strange. But in reality there’s a next-level intelligence bursting from Holdo that I don’t think she knows how to communicate yet, but then again, I don’t think she feels like she has to explain herself, other people will catch up to her eventually (for example her not telling Poe about Crait). And she’s one of the most loyal, brave friends that Leia ever encounters, not only risking her life to help her friend, but standing by her side when Leia faces her first devastating loss. Amilyn teaches Leia how to find and center herself amidst suffocating depression and this is the Holdo I want to see more of!

5) Breha Organa — The Queen of Alderaan herself people! Leia’s adoptive mother was briefly seen in the closing scenes of Revenge of the Sith and is seen more frequently in Leia, Princess of Alderaan, but there is so much more I want to know about the woman that shaped Leia into the feisty, hero that she is! What was it like for her to raise the daughter of a woman she most likely had met, or at least was a friend of her husband’s? What was it like to know that her child was the offspring of another Queen and a Jedi, the unknown daughter of Vader herself? The fear she must have felt knowing that Palpatine and Vader were out there in the same galaxy as Leia… it makes my heart shudder thinking about it. In POA she mentions that she nearly died while completing her own tasks to be named crown princess of Alderaan, I’d love a narrative of this, or of her and Bail’s courtship in the time before the Galactic Civil War. There’s just so much that can be written about Breha and I think the world deserves to hear more about this epic Queen who defied an evil Emperor!

6) Qi’ra —  Introduced to us in Solo: A Star Wars Movie and in the book Most Wanted by Rae Carson, Qi’ra is the literal definition of an enigma! She’s street-smart, confident, and hyper intelligent, but that’s really about all we know! There’s such a big chunk of time between Most Wanted and the opening scene of Solo, and again between when Han and her get separated and reunited in Solo in which sooooo much obviously happens, and we know the result but not the reasons why she does what she does and chooses what she chooses. Obviously her relationship with Han is fascinating, but I feel like it’s  completely unfinished at the moment and there is more to tell there before he goes and his own way and meets Leia. I have a hard time imagining Han letting go of her so easily, so we definitely need to see what she’s doing with Maul. Whether she comes back in a sequel to Solo (which I would LOVE), or we get a book in her perspective, we need information about this epic new character!

7) Shmi Skywalker — This is the Skywalker woman we need to know more about! Shmi was the original driving force behind Anakin’s teetering to the dark side, his absolute love and devotion to her lead him down a shadowy path when she was taken from him, and I feel like there is so much we can learn from her. What was her life like before Anakin, what was her mental state when she realized what was happening to her (the pregnancy), and what were those early years with just her and Ani like? Did she sense Ani’s potential for great emotion, or wonder if that could ever go wrong? I mean, we have here one of the strongest, most capable mother’s in the Star Wars universe, and we just don’t get enough of her! Personally I would like to see her impact her great-grandson in some way, whether she comes to him in a dream, or like Rey, Ben touches something that holds memories of her and he sees her for the first time. Shmi just embodies steadiness and love and that’s what Kylo/Ben needs!

8) Padme Amidala — Last but certainly not least in my perspective, we are dire need for more Padme in the Star Wars universe! I know she was featured on the Clone Wars television show, but I haven’t seen much of it and what I have seen (while wonderful) still has her as a more secondary character. I’d love to see her get some novels of her own much like Leia, (Come on Claudia Gray, I’m counting on you!!!). Whether we go back to her early years before she was queen, or right after TPM, or those few precious years she and Anakin shared together there is just so much that can be explored. Padme is a strong, intelligent, brave woman and her impact on the galaxy is still felt now in the sequel trilogy. You can see her in Leia, in Ben even, and it’s such a missed opportunity not to see her again. (Yes, I’ve seen that she’s going to be in the new Thrawn novel, but against, that’s someone else’s book, not her own!) Bring back Padme, the Senator, the Queen, the lover of the Chosen One, and the Mother of the future of the galaxy!

And there you have it my starfighters, the women of Star Wars that we DESPERATELY NEED MORE OF!!! Were there any that I missed, any that I might have overlooked? Who’s your favorite of the SW ladies? Let me know in the comments! And remember: may the force be with you!