A Book by E.K. Johnston
If you are like me, and feel that some of the backstory from the Star Wars prequel trilogy was either somewhat anemic, if not sorely lacking, a book like Star Wars: The Padmé Trilogy 1 – Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston is just what you are looking for. I have a real big list of Star Wars canonized books that I have been working through, and since I finished up all of the books that are currently available in The High Republic, I have moved on towards books that took place in and around the prequel trilogy films. When it came time to read this, I was not sure that a book explaining what Queen Amidala was up to leading up to, and behind the scenes of the first film: The Phantom Menace, but boy was I wrong because this answers a lot of questions I had. This book is ostensibly something that can to a girl’s adventure book with the girls in question being one of the most important women in all of Star Wars mythos and her trustworthy handmaidens.
“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.”
While I am not the target market for this book, for the most part, I found it quite enjoyable. Some people, especially those of the male persuasion, might not enjoy this book simply because it is written by a female author for young girls. Topics such as teen romance, teen angst, partying, and even female hygiene situations all come into play throughout the narrative making this one of the more atypical books in the Star Wars series that I have read so far. The majority of the book tells the story of the Queen’s inauguration up to the point where Chancellor Palpatine starts playing 4-D chess in his ploy to ultimately take over the Galaxy. Towards the end of the book is where he pushes The Trade Federation towards an embargo of Planet Naboo after making a lot of crazy demands that would have tantamount Lee resulted in her giving up her own planet, something that everyone involved knew was not going to happen. Within the narrative of this book, we get the idea that Palpatine really got the gears rolling towards his plan simply because Padme was not being the subservient puppet like he expected and was handling political situations better than expected.
Fans of characters such as Anakin Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, and even Qui-Gon jinn will be happy to see that they all make appearances in this book although as secondary characters. A lot of the action in the book that takes place during The Phantom Menace is basically filling in the gaps as to what happened to various side characters while the main characters were off doing main character stuff. For example, did you ever wonder what the handmaidens were doing while Padme and the Jedi went to Tatooine? This book explains that and more and glorious detail that I was not expecting.
Overall, I’m not 100% sure if this book was wholly necessary as something that had to be made, but unlike one of the previous books by the author that I have read, Ashoka, it never really comes across as being as superfluous book that really doesn’t add much to the character. The back story of the handmaidens is especially interesting and gives you that much more appreciation for what they go through in this story and all of the movies. These are young girls that have chosen to train as an elite group of teenage bodyguards, routinely switching identities in order to protect The Queen at all costs, and I feel like the movies don’t really focus on them very much at all I’m not sure I can recommend this book to everyone, but it was entertaining enough that I planned to read the rest of the trilogy fairly soon.