Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Read, You Must: Queen's Shadow

Paperback available March 20, 2020
What do you do when you're a teenager and your reign as Queen of Naboo has finished? Well if the Chancellor of the Galactic Senate asks you to serve, you become one of the youngest senators in the galaxy.

Now available in paperback, Queen's Shadow is a Young Adult novel from Disney-Lucasfilm Press that details Padmé's transition from Queen to Senator. 

From her awkward first days on Coruscant to backroom meetings and uncertain alliances, the story covers this period between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. It's not an easy life for Padmé with all eyes on her and powerful enemies working against her. She continues to surround herself with her handmaidens and security staff, the few she can trust.

Written by E. K. Johnston (author of Star Wars: Ahsoka), this novel fills in part of the 10 or so year gap between Episodes 1 and 2.

Fans of the political intrigue of The Phantom Menace will enjoy the strategic moves required as the young senator learns the delicate dance her new job requires.

Fans of the larger Star Wars saga will appreciate reading of Padmé's first meetings with Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, and The Clone Wars fans especially will appreciate the introduction of characters like Mina and Lux Bonteri, Rush Clovis and others. This story interweaves many key characters from earlier in their careers than has ever been depicted before.
Original hardcover design (2019)

It's hard to say what the plot here is, exactly, as much of the book feels like the first part of a much larger story. Johnston seems to be working very hard though the entire book to set up for whatever comes next. And sure enough, coming this summer is the follow-up novel, Queen's Peril. It's not clear if that was the plan all along, but it feels that way.

As Padmé navigates the tricky waters of politics, Johnston also strategically sets up the pieces in place for the next book. At times this can be a bit slow, but for those who enjoy the political maneuvering, this is quite an enjoyable story in its own right.

Along the way there is espionage, attempts at character assassination and even romance. That element is pretty tame by YA standards but still a little more adult than a middle-grade novel would ever have.

Also along the way are many, many wardrobe and hairstyle changes. Due to the nature of the handmaidens often playing decoy, these are a necessary security measure.  

As The Clone Wars returns with new episodes on Disney+, it’s a lot of fun to revisit the “prequel” era of Star Wars. For Young Adult fans who grew up with a fascination for Padmé Amidala and her tragic part of the Skywalker saga this story is a welcome way to flesh out her tale.

(Publisher’s Recommendation: Ages 12 and up)
Also by E. K. Johnston

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