Last year I wrote a post about how my appreciation for ‘The Phantom Menace’ grew after reading both ‘Master and Apprentice’ by Claudia Grey and ‘Queen’s Shadow’ by E. K. Johnston, which you can peruse HERE.
And then ‘Queen’s Peril’ was announced, the story of how Padmé and her Handmaidens became the really strong team we saw in ‘Shadow’, the early days of Padmé’s time as Naboo’s Queen and the events of ‘Phantom Menace’ on Naboo whilst Padmé is on Tatooine and Coruscant.
We learn about how and why each girl was recruited, a bit about their lives before entering into service and small tidbits on how they feel spending their lives in anonymity.
The book does favour one Handmaiden above others, Sabé, the one closest to Padmé, essentially best friends who work together, but Sabè’s role also creates a divide between the two, which after a sneaky escape from the Palace to see the Star Wars equivalent of One Direction.
We get some insight into another character from ‘The Phantom Menace’, before the events of the film and during. Darth Maul get a couple of moments in the spotlight, the first show him meditating and rebuilding his lightsaber, something he does quite often it seems, the second is him walking through the Theed Palace, planning his attack.
Whilst the first two thirds deal with the growing bonds between Padmé and the Handmaidens, the last portion details the events of ‘The Phantom Menace’. We get observations and conversations not seen in the film, such as after Obi-Wan tells them not to send a reply to Theed, and a touching moment between Padmé and Shmi the night before the Boonta Eve Podrace, and whilst these moments are great, it’s the story of what the Saché and Yané are doing on Naboo as prisoners of the Trade Federation, working with Tonra and Mariek Panaka to form an underground resistance. We learn more about Saché’s torture at the hands of the Federation and how they were able to get people out of the camps to fight in the Battle of Naboo.
One other character, who has a large part in the book is Captain Panaka. We get to learn more about his relationship with Palpatine as well as how he manages a group of young women and how difficult and different he finds it. He almost becomes a surrogate father to them, worrying, being over-protective and sometimes overbearing. One sequence shows is how out of his depth he is and whilst it’s amusing seeing him trying to go about his job, it’s his wife who has to be in charge for a time and puts him out of his comfort zone.
E. K. Johnston has crafted a brilliant Star Wars novel here. Her love and passion of the franchise really shine through and whilst I would have though that this would have been the obvious first choice for her two write over ‘Queen’s Shadow’, there is A part of me that likes that this came out second. I really enjoyed getting to know the Handmaidens, learning about their roles in the employ of the Queen and what measures they all go to to craft the Queen Amidala we meet for the first time in ‘The Phantom Menace’.
Now if you don’t mind I am off to watch it again with an even greater appreciation.
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