Queen’s Shadow – E.K. Johnston

Synopsis: When Padmé Naberrie, “Queen Amidala” of Naboo, steps down from her position, she is asked by the newly-elected queen to become Naboo’s representative in the Galactic Senate. Padmé is unsure about taking on the new role, but cannot turn down the request to serve her people. Together with her most loyal handmaidens, Padmé must figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of politics and forge a new identity beyond the queen’s shadow.

“They’ll stall you,” Organa said. “I know it’s a horrifying situation, but you can’t fight every evil in the galaxy.”

“Evil? ” Padmé said. “I’ve fought evil and it was easy: I shot it. It’s apathy I can’t stand.” 

Finally we have a book dedicated to Padmé Amidala Naberrie. It’s been 84 years..

E.K. Johnston also wrote Ahsoka, one of the best books in the new canon. Ahsoka is for sure a top favorite character for me & I was overwhelmingly happy to have more of her story. The Clone Wars did a great job of giving us a deeper look into Ahsoka, as well as Padmé. However, not quite enough. Not like the male characters in the saga! I am so incredibly grateful for this book.. for giving us more of Padmé & her life, rather than just her death. This is her story.

Can we also take a moment to appreciate how achingly gorgeous this cover by Tara Phillips is?!? It captures the beauty, pain & strength within Amidala perfectly. Oof.

Queen’s Shadow takes place between The Phantom Menace & Attack of the Clones. It follows Padmé just after serving as Queen of Naboo & into her role as Senator. It provides insight into her relationships with her handmaidens & the profound respect that these women had for their queen, and that she had for them. It additionally serves as a behind the scenes look into the costuming, disguises & makeup & the importance that these play in the life of Amidala.

“We all have our disguises.”

This was a deeply emotional story that went into how so many underestimated her, thinking she was just a “puppet” queen, which was further evidenced by the TriNebulon News articles throughout. This was such a telling glimpse into the galactic politics surrounding Amidala’s reign. Meanwhile, she was holding off a planetwide invasion. She is completely selfless & I think that is one of the main injustices with her character portrayal over the decades.

“‘You have not changed very much since the first time I met you,’ Billaba said. Padmé wasn’t entirely sure what to make of that, and it must have shown on her face, but the Jedi Master continued. ‘You have grown, of course. You are wiser. You are more balanced. But you haven’t changed. You are still the person who took on the Trade Federation, and I think you always will be.’ It was probably the oddest compliment Padmé had ever received, including the time a small boy on a desert world had assumed she was an angel, but she was pleased by it nonetheless.”

Courageous, fierce, hopeful, idealistic, strong. Padmé is a character that I have always felt deserved better. Someone who was essentially mishandled in the movies, with how she was written. Queen’s Shadow is a beautiful portrait recognizing her legacy as a queen & the heroic backstory of someone that has been misunderstood throughout time.

I love me some action-packed stabby violent dark shit.. but I’m also a sucker for the quiet moments. The spaces in a book where the characters are given the spotlight. Johnston allowed Padmé to truly shine here. For those that are familiar with Amidala’s story.. we know how this ends. Queen’s Shadow is a long overdue story arc for a character that was in the forefront, but that still remained a mystery for the most part. I mentioned in my previous review for Honor Among Thieves how that would be a great place to begin your Star Wars book journey, because it stands alone in the grand scheme of things. However, Queen’s Shadow is a book for people that are already familiar with Padmé Amidala. I wouldn’t recommend this as a jumping off point, because this is a book that is used as a connective force between timelines.

Reading something where the writer is obviously passionate about the subject matter tickles my brain. I eat that up! I’m a wicked passionate person & I get energized when passion flows through another person. When it’s obvious that they have a genuine love for what they are writing about. It is clear that Johnston wanted to represent Padmé in a respectful way, that she wanted to shed light onto what a feminist badass this character actually is. As a lifelong Star Wars fan.. this book just made my heart so fucking happy!

-Holly

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2 thoughts on “Queen’s Shadow – E.K. Johnston

    1. Thanks, Jason! I am all about that sky porn!

      I really dug this, especially because she is such a misunderstood character. Although the lack of action scenes in a Star Wars book was definitely a bit unexpected!

      Liked by 1 person

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