If Claudia Grey is the Queen of Star Wars novels the E.K. Johnston is the Princess and ready for the chance to take the throne.
‘Queen’s Shadow’ is quite possibly one of the best Star Wars books written. Hands down.
It’s the book we have all been waiting for, finally learning more about Padmé between the events of ‘The Phantom Menace’ and ‘Attack of the Clones’ and not only does it give us great insight into her character, but we learn about her handmaidens and what they went through during the events of ‘The Phantom Menace’. Once Padmé takes on her new role as Senator, we are introduced to the characters we meet in ‘Attack of the Clones’ and they are present throughout most of the book.
What I loved about this book, not only for the development of Padmé’s character and seeding her starting to thrive in her new role, but the way is works as a spiritual companion piece to Claudia Grey’s ‘Leia: Princess of Alderaan’ even going so far as having Queen Breha appear unreal a minor role as well as Bail Organa playing quite a major one. And of course some of the things mentioned in this novel tie-in to other canon materials including ‘Battlefront 2’.
Johnston really lets us learn more about Padmé than we have ever learned in all the years of the ‘Legends’ timeline and not only do we learn about Padmé but one of the other protagonists is Sabé, the Handmaiden who posed as Amidala during’The Phantom Menace’ who goes on her own mission for Padmé that sends her to Tatooine to search for Shmi Skywalker.
In terms of the overall story, there isn’t a lot of action, it’s more of a Political novel with a YA twist which is refreshing. There is some romance but it’s a character beat rather than a plot point.
I love being able to understand Padmé more now than I did before reading this book. She is one of the most important characters in the Skywalker Saga and until the last few years there hasn’t been a lot of ancillary material about her, and other than ‘Thrawn: Alliances’ she hasn’t had much development.
I don’t consider many of the Star Wars books/comics to be a necessary read, but this has made the list. It adds an incredible amount of depth to Padmé and her life, including her family who was relegated to the cutting room floor of ‘Attack of the Clones’. And thanks to ‘Queen’s Shadow’ I have a new found appreciation of her character and her roles in the films and wish that we had more of her deleted scenes, especially the ‘Rebellion’ sub-plot from ‘Revenge of the Sith’ because this novel also ties into those scenes with the formation of her alliance with Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, it even includes Rush Clovis and Mina Bonteri from ‘The Clone Wars’ and shows the formation of her relationships with them as well.
Johnston also includes some mystery around Bonteri, in two scenes, Padmé overhears conversations where Bonteri is talking with a mysterious male character. If Johnston returns to this era I would love to see more of this, maybe showing the early days of the beginnings of the Separatist movement in the Senate.
All in all this book is amazing. One of my favourites to far and I look forward to reading more from E.K. Johnston in the future, I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.
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