Queen’s Peril

Queen’s Peril is a sequel to E. K. Johnston’s Queen’s Shadow and covers the time from when Padmé was elected Queen of Naboo up to the last moments of The Phantom Menace. Through this book, fans learn a lot more about Padmé and her haindmaidens. In fact I was rather surprised by how much we did not know considering Queen’s Shadow already dove pretty deep into that territory. Queen’s Peril is an essential companion piece as it puts together a complete picture of how the handmaidens came about, how Padmé came to power, and he she began to establish her rule as queen even as Darth Sidious fast tracked his grand scheme to topple the Republic.

Now Queen’s Peril might not be for everyone. Keep in mind that Padmé was elected queen when she was a teenager, so all her handmaidens are teenagers too. Essentially you’re reading a Star Wars novel about a bunch of female teenagers. That said, if you have an open mind and a deep interest in Star Wars, it might not be a barrier. As an adult male, I actually found the characters to be very interesting. It’s because these are characters who were essential parts to the films, but overlooked by everything, including the expanded universe. Until E. K. Johnston came along, we knew almost nothing about the handmaidens. But Johnston doesn’t just fill out the backstories, she brings these characters to life. They’re each unique with distinct personalities. And it’s not just the handmaidens we learn about, but Padmé as well. I mean, how is a teenager expected to be queen of a planet? How did Padmé of all people get picked for that role? And what’s up with all the different names? This book tackles those questions and more.

So if reading a book about a bunch of teenage girls isn’t a roadblock for you, you may be in for a treat. Keep in mind these aren’t any ordinary women. The handmaidens and Padmé are quite extraordinary. Each of them is talented in their own way, and together, they are a fearsome force. Surprisingly, the book is very much a lead up to The Phantom Menace and explains how they prepared for what was to come even though they had no idea it was coming. Good old Panaka’s paranoia drove them to acquire skills they might ordinarily have overlooked, but thanks to his motivation, he drove Padmé and the handmaidens to be quite prepared for anything and everything.

Beyond the handmaidens and Padmé, Johnston takes some breaks to provide readers a glimpse of other characters in the universe. There’s a few looks at Palpatine and what he’s up to, Darth Maul and his preparations against the Jedi, and even a cool scene between Shmi and Padmé. While there are some very nice breaks earlier in the book, the overlapping parts that highlight scenes that weren’t in the film are some of the best. It’s kind of nerdy, but seeing Maul scope out the palace and pick his battlefield for the inevitable fight against the Jedi was just such a cool and thoughtful touch. Yet those extra bits of attention happen throughout the book. In fact I thought E. K. Johnston’s writing was at the top of her game so far with this book as the prose, storytelling and character development meshed and rolled out superbly.

With great characters, an exploration of an oft overlooked aspect of the Star Wars universe, and smooth, engaging writing, Queen’s Peril scores high marks in my book. It’s a refreshing read that stands out from most other Star Wars books, be they canon or legends. I give Queen’s Peril a four out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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