[DISCLAIMER: There are slight spoilers ahead for The Clone Wars animated series.]
Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow explores the realms of Naboo, introducing us to the culture we met in The Phantom Menace. It traverses the years of the prequel trilogy extraordinarily well, and does a great job distinguishing the time changes. The plot works well, and it follows author E. K. Johnston’s first successful Star Wars novel in Ahsoka in being in the same realm. Most of the great canon books since Disney bought Star Wars have been focused on a singular character, and invigorating the supporting characters surrounding them. This is what Queen’s Shadow follows through on, taking us on an emotional journey of Padmé and her handmaidens.
The plot is well written, in it makes the politics intriguing. It might bore some people as that is the focus, but we see Padmé develop the aggressive negotiation tactic. She transforms from the hardened queen, into a hardened senator, and she is all the better for it. This is the prequel movie we needed as it molds Padmé Amidala from a stationary queen who seems nothing more than a figure head. To the firey aggressive negotiator in Episode II, to the peaceful minded entity in The Clone Wars series. Padmé is astounding and she has deserved this novel more than anyone else. Johnston was the perfect person to present the novel.
The detail work in this story is amazing as well. The outfit changes, the protection embedded each gown, the handiwork description, ugh I was in awe. If I had an artist’s hand I could have drawn each dress and been able to detail them to the last stitch. The detail doesn’t just limit itself to the scenery, but also the characters. Saché, Yané, Sabé, Dormé, and of course Padmé, you feel the emotional connection. They all genuinely care for one another, and you can just feel it with every word you read. The book began and ended with me in tears just based on how much you feel for these characters. You will want to see more of them, and it’s so good, because Johnston has all but confirmed there will be more about our beloved queen and her handmaidens.
Padmé obviously is the main focus of Queen’s Shadow, with her learning how to be a senator, and how things change from one political arena to the next. She starts up her relationships with Senators Organa, Mothma, Clovis, and Bonterri. It was nice to see all of these relationships begin, and I’d like to see more of it. The climate between Bonterri and Padmé is highly different than it is in The Clone Wars, so that’s another reason I would love to see a sequel. Padmé uses political allies, stands up for herself, and in one of my favorite moments, she refuses to let a colleague act on a whim and mistake her intentions for anything but what they are.
This book feels like Star Wars. It’s the background on characters in the prequel trilogy we needed. There are negotiations, battles, decoys, maneuvers, and more. While it feels like Star Wars, if you’re here for the battles, you might struggle maintaining interest. This book is focused on Padmé, and her desire to succeed in anything, and her handmaidens’ wishes to support her completely. The book contains some slight “cameos”, mentions of characters come and gone, and has a little subplot that goes awry but intrigues me. You see how much Padmé cares for those around her, and those who have come through her life. That’s what’s important in this book, and that’s why you should read it. She’s not the woman Revenge of the Sith shows her to be, she is strong, she is powerful, and she’s emotional. That’s who Padmé is, and that’s why she succeeds