Queen’s Shadow (Book Review)
Queen's Shadow by EK Johnston is set four years after the events of “The Phantom Menace” and chronicles the events of Padmé Amidala's transition from Queen of Naboo to Senator. The Prequel era has been a scarcely touched so far in the new cannon, but each soiree into that time period has brought great stories; Queen's Shadow is no exception.
Padmé has gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to Star Wars stories. More often than not Padmé is used as a plot device in stories centered around Anakin Skywalker. We are told she has a big compassionate heart and a savvy political mind, EK Johnston abandons the talk and shows us Padmé's political prowess and her loving spirit.
Padmé's story is a harrowing tale of civic duty and self discovery. An interesting choice Johnston makes is showing that Padmé considers herself a woman of two identities. In the same way we refer to Batman and Bruce Wayne as different individuals so too does Padmé with the Amidala persona and her own true self.
One of the most enjoyable parts of this novel is without a doubt the look at the once royal later senatorial entourage of handmaidens and security Padmé runs with. Sabé: the decoy in TPM gets most of the spotlight and is shown to be a fascinating character in her own right. As I mentioned in my review of the latest issue of Age of Republic, Chris Ryons of Broaxium compares her handmaidens to the Dora-Milaje of Black Panther lore and that cannot be more accurate. They are part soldier part, wardrobe guru, part make up artist. We also get to see Captain Panaka's wife step into the spotlight as well. With this interesting crew we also get a look into Naboo culture and how it was affected by the Naboo Crisis.
I simply cannot dive too deep into the story as I do not want to take away from the experience of it and spoil it. The plot is equal parts political thriller and self discovery story. We see characters from across the Star Wars political sphere such as Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Mina Bonteri, Sheev Palpatine, and many more. Queen's Shadow has no shorter of connections to the greater lore and brings the pain with deep cuts for the Prequel era.
Padmé finally gets her time to shine after being short changed for many years with a delightful story of politics, self exploration, and sisterhood. I aside from a few qualms with the final section of the novel that feel somewhat rushed, I am incredibly impressed with this novel. I give EK Johnston's Queen's Shadow a 4.5 out of 5.