Hello again my fellow Star Wars fans, I’m back again for Part Two of my Queen’s Shadow review! Now Monday’s post was my overall “review” of the new SW novel Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston, but today we’re breaking the story down a little more and delving into the actual details of the plot, so head’s up right now: SPOILERS ARE IMMINENT!!! So, if you don’t want to know anything that happens, or you want to read the book for yourself first then I suggest saving this post for later because I’ve got a lot to say about the details in this fantastic book!
Still with me? Good. Now I originally got this idea from a similar YouTube video that CT from Who Talks First (aka The Knights of Rant) did on her channel when Bloodline by Claudia Gray was released. I wasn’t sure it was a book I was going to read, I didn’t really like the cover or anything but once her video went up, I realized just how awesome the story sounded and it ended up being one of my most favorite SW reads ever. So, I figured I’d do something similar with the hopes that maybe this list will inspire someone else to give Queen’s Shadow a chance and maybe discover an epic new entry in the Star Wars fandom!
So, in no particular order as to importance, here’s my list of the Top 11 Revelations we learn from Queen’s Shadow:
1 – The occupation of Naboo in The Phantom Menace was A LOT more violent than we originally thought. Maybe this was just me and the fact that I first saw the movie when I was nine, but we never really saw too much of what was happening on Naboo before or after Padme left to find help, so I just assumed there wasn’t that much violence going on. How naïve, I was, let me tell you. I know they get that holo-message urging Amidala to come home because the “death toll is catastrophic” but I always assumed that was a ploy to get her to either come home and be captured or to send a message back and have the message traced to find out where she was. It never occurred to me, and we never really saw anything that made me think that the death toll was actually climbing, but in Queen’s Shadow we learn just how badly treated the people of Naboo actually were. The invasion of the droid army of The Trade Federation was devastating, and its impacts are still being felt 4/5 years later when the book takes place.
2 – Padme’s handmaidens were physically tortured during the invasion. This took me totally by surprise because I thought all of Amidala’s handmaidens were with her when she left the plaent to seek help from the Senate but apparently some of them had to stay behind. Sache, the youngest of the Queen’s handmaidens, was brutally tortured for information as to Amidala’s whereabouts. This brave young girl (who I think was twelve at the time) still bears the scars of their attacks all over her body, but despite their best efforts, Sache never broke. She kept her Queen’s secrets and saved countless lives, allowing Amidala’s spies to remain undiscovered by keeping the Federation’s attention squarely on herself.
3 – Qui-Gon Jinn is considered a hero and is honored by the people of Naboo. Considering Qui-Gon is my absolute favorite Jedi (which I know I’ve mentioned again and again) it was just nice to have his sacrifice be remembered and honored after the events of TPM. The way Padme describes her memories of Qui-Gon, her profound gratitude and respect, it just reinforces how much I adore this epic character and it makes me feel good to know that even after he was gone, his memory lived on with the thanks of an entire planet.
4 – The truth about Quarsh Panaka. I don’t know about you guys, but I really liked Captain Panaka in the first film, he was just so dedicated to Amidala and Naboo and was ready and willing to risk his life to help her help their planet. So I was always a little thrown that in AOTC we’re given a new character, Typho – who I also really liked – without any mention of our beloved captain. I assumed that he stayed with the new queen, that his role was specific to just guarding the Queens of Naboo, but then in Claudia Gray’s Leia: Princess of Alderaan, we see Panaka again but in a new light. In POA he’s a shiftier character, a wealthy/possibly corrupt overseer of Naboo and its moons, and he comes face to face with not only Leia, but the currant Queen and he is totally and tonally different. We discover that he is now working for the Emperor in some compacity and I was left flabbergasted at how we got from TPM Panaka to this dubious person who has no respect for the royalty he once guarded so fiercely. Queen’s Shadow shed a little light on the situation. His break from the royal house began during Padme’s reign, when after the invasion, he wanted a more militant approach to planetary defenses, but considering Naboo is a pacifist planet, this militarization was denied, and he and Padme’s relationship was irrevocably broken. It broke my heart to see them so uncomfortable with each other, but at least we now have an explanation as to how Panaka could end up being a man who would knowingly give Leia over to the Emperor once he figured out who she really was!
5 – Padme searched for Shmi Skywalker! This was one of the first times I really freaked out when reading Queen’s Shadow, and OMG I just love Padme even more even though I don’t think that’s possible! It always irked me that after the dust settled, no one thought to go back for Shmi, like I know Ani couldn’t because of the Jedi rules, but how hard would it have been for the Council to go back and free her, just to bring peace of mind to the one they’re calling their Chosen. But here we have Padme immediately sending people out to scour Tattooine for her (once her time as Queen officially ended and she could mettle in another planet’s affairs) and not only that, she wants to help all slaves! It didn’t even matter that she never found her, just the fact that Padme tried – the moment she was free to act for herself, she sent help. That means something. It means everything. And it reinforces the kind of character she really is.
6 – Padme doesn’t like the Jedi! I swear it’s like this book was written just for me! Padme mentions several times throughout the novel that although she like Qui-Gon, she doesn’t really feel comfortable with the rest of the Jedi as a whole. They make her feel uncomfortable and uneasy, as though they look through her and not at her (rough paraphrasing here). And considering that Padme is a moral guide throughout the prequel trilogy, I think it speaks volumes that she is one of the few heroes we see that doesn’t particularly like the Jedi Order!
7 – Padme’s entire wardrobe is weaponized/defensive! That’s right, we all know Padme has the wardrobe of a goddess, but apparently, it’s not all for show! Every piece of clothing, jewelry, and makeup –down to her shoes! – is an element of keeping her safe. Her clothes have all sorts of protections built into them and even her makeup is used to help hide her true face and make it easier for one of her handmaidens to take her place when they need to! For anyone who says that fashion has no place in Star Wars, I say read this book and think again!
8 – Bail Organa and Padme originally don’t get along! This one completely sideswiped me, I love Bail Organa and I was so waiting to see him and Padme become besties in the Senate, but damn, they sure didn’t start off that way. Not only is Bail dismissive and borderline rude, but Padme actually describes getting really angry with his attitude and I was like wait no, you have to love each other as friends forever and always…HE’S LEIA’S ADOPTED DAD, DAGNABIT!!! Thankfully we do see their relationship take a sharp turn towards the positive as the story continues and Padme even visits Bail and Breha on Alderaan, but those first few meetings left me biting my nails!
9 – There are more than one set of Handmaidens! It never occurred to me that the handmaidens we see in the first two films aren’t the same women guarding Padme Amidala, but damn if there weren’t two sets of these epic women in Queen’s Shadow. The Originals consists of Sabe, Eirtae, Rabe, Yane, and Sache, while the handmaidens that follow Padme to the Senate are Sabe (always), Dorme, Corde, and Verse. These women are so unbelievably loyal, brave, and powerful, and they utterly deserve the world! I want so much more information from these women, what are their stories, what truths do they know?!!!
10 – The Vote of No Confidence had unforeseen consequences! We all know that this epic vote led to the rise of Palpatine’s political career, bringing him a step closer to being “the Emperor” of the original trilogy, but what we didn’t know was how this affected Padme’s time in the Senate. What we see as the ultimate badass move on Padme’s part in TPM, actually leads to her being ostracized to an extent by her fellow senators. Because she flouted the rules and procedures of the Senate itself to save her own planet, the other members don’t trust her, and this is the first time we really see Padme struggle with not being accepted. She has to decide with is more important: her planet or the Republic and everything the Senate stands for. And that’s so much easier said than done. How can you defend something in the Senate that goes against your own planet’s best interests for the sake of the galaxy at large? How do you walk that murky ground of helping individuals and helping the masses?
11 – And finally, there is something truly suspicious about Padme’s death! Now I know personally, I always thought it was crazy that Padme just flat-out died in ROTS the way she did – like I’m sorry but that doesn’t make any sense. She was a dedicated fighter, even brokenhearted, she would have fought on even if only for her children. It almost seemed like Lucas just didn’t plan this part out well, as if she had served her purpose but she wasn’t seen in the originals so oh well, she has to go, but I like to think that such an elegant crafter of stories does better than that. There had to be something else going on and I’ve/we’ve just missed it. And I’ve heard countless theories as to what possibly happened and why Padme really died, but as none of them came from Lucasfilm, I wasn’t taking anything for sure. But the end of Queen’s Shadow definitely reinforced the belief that something wasn’t right about Padme’s death. This entire book we’ve seen just how much of a fighter she was, how she never quit, and yet suddenly she just gives up and dies of sadness? I don’t think so, and neither does Sabe. She speaks the words we’ve all been thinking for so many years: “She wouldn’t just die.” Sabe loves Padme more than anything in the galaxy and when the book ends, it’s with her setting off to find the truth, and with a new undisclosed identity waiting…
And there you have it my fellow Star Wars fans, my list of Top 11 Revelations from Queen’s Shadow! Did any of these spark anything for you? Do you plan on reading the book or have you read it already? Are there any revelations you gleaned from the story that I maybe missed? Make sure to let me know in the comments and remember: We are brave, your highness.