Written By: E.K. Johnston
Published By: Disney Publishing Worldwide
Reviewed By: Melissa Minners
I’m always on the lookout for Star Wars novels, no matter where they fall out on the timeline. So, when Netgalley.com offered Star Wars: Queen’s Hope for review, I jumped at the opportunity. I love learning more about Padmé Amidala and this novel would provide much more insight into the woman who was Queen of Naboo, became a formidable Republic Senator, married Anakin Skywalker and would eventually give birth to Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, heroes in their own right.
Queen’s Hope takes place just after the Battle of Geonosis. Anakin and Padmé have taken leave on Naboo, supposedly to recover from their injuries. In reality, the two are about to consecrate their love for one another through marriage. They must keep the wedding a secret for Anakin’s sake. This is harder for Padme to do, considering how close she is to her handmaidens, but she is determined to protect Anakin and prevent him from being expelled from the Jedi.
Their secret is put to the test when Padmé is sent on a secret mission and her handmaiden, Sabé, must take her place as Senator Amidala. While Sabé learns what really happens behind the scenes in the Senate, Padmé sees the reality of the Clone Wars from the front lines of a planet that is not under the protection of the Republic. Both women must make peace with their pasts before making decisions that will affect their lives and the lives of the very people they are trying to help.
When I started reading this novel, I had no idea that this was the third book in a trilogy. How did I miss the other two? Regardless, I was able to dive right in without too much confusion. It’s about time someone decided to really offer a backstory for Padmé and her handmaidens. I loved gaining insight into how Padmé became who she was and her relationship with the handmaidens in her service. Who knew that, in addition to helping her in her daily activities, playing the bodyguard role, and serving as her double, these handmaidens had very specific tasks and missions all their own? Sabé’s mission to free the enslaved on Tatooine, Rabé’s musical talents, Saché’s role as a politician in Naboo, and Yané’s mission to find homes for Naboo’s orphans – all speak to higher callings for the handmaidens of Naboo.
Something readers will notice right away is the inclusiveness of this novel. Yané and Saché have become partners in more ways than one. A new handmaiden is referred to by the pronoun ‘they’. This is all in an effort to provide all genders with someone they can look up to and to give others an understanding that different genders and sexual preferences are the norm in both the real world and the Star Wars Universe. I have read some reviews in which people thought these views were being forced down their throats. I feel that isn’t the case – more like the powers that be finally realized that they only showed heterosexuals and his or her genders in their novels. How do you sell a book to someone who can’t recognize a part of themselves in any of the characters represented?
As for the story, I was completely captivated by the whole thing. There was something for everyone in here – romance, action, intrigue. I enjoyed seeing the various characters reflecting on their moral beliefs and values in an effort to figure out what course of action they were about to take would be the correct one. Sometimes, that meant giving up old grudges born from pain and anguish. Sometimes it meant giving up everything you were trained to be for something you felt was an even greater calling. The emotional and psychological drama was well-written for each character. And of course, the sinisterness of the Emperor and his backdoor machinations are always there. I liked the fact that we were able to see things from the Emperor’s point of view.
I loved that E.K. Johnston had studied the characters enough to write them perfectly. I never felt like there was a discrepancy in the way any particular character behaved as opposed to how they behaved in the movies or other novels. Johnston’s descriptiveness put you right in the story and I could picture all that was taking place in my mind’s eye.
I found Star Wars: Queen’s Hope to be quite an enjoyable read. I will now have to get my hands on the first two novels to enjoy the complete trilogy experience.