The Queen’s Shadow by E. K. Johnston
The Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston follows Padmé Amidala Naberrie after her reign is over as Queen of Naboo. The plot follows her through the beginning of her first term as a Naboo Senator.
After her reign has ended as Queen, Padmé wonders what she’ll do with her time. When Naboo’s new queen asks if she’ll serve Naboo again, this time as its senator, Padmé knows she can’t refuse, nor does she want to. With hopes of stopping the galactic slave trade (and perhaps finding Anakin’s mother and freeing her), she puts her all into being a senator. Only, it seems that old enemies hope to ruin her career before it even starts. With an attempt on her life and bad press hounding her steps and thoughts, Padmé sets out to do what she does bests: navigate politics. Hoping to make a new name for herself, not just as the young Queen of Naboo who unseated the previous Senate’s leader, she and her entourage attempt to fight for the rights of Naboo and those less fortunate in the galaxy.
I was really happy to come across this book because Padmé is one of my favorite characters from Star Wars. I have also read one of Johnston’s books before and liked it, so I had pretty high hopes for this book starting out. Unfortunately, it didn’t wow me. I wasn’t disappointed in it, I just wasn’t excited about it like I wanted. I loved seeing the inner workings of Padmé’s handmaidens and how she managed both a political presence and a private one. Yet the book was overall lacking a compelling plot. Though her life is threatened at the beginning of the book, much of the intrigue and hinting of darker plots remained just that: hints. There was never a whole lot of action and the political aspect of it all made the pace creep along.
A part of me wants to chalk this up to Johnston having to write within certain parameters because this book is meant to fit into a canon story. Overall, the character development was good and the world was built well under Jonston’s hand. So I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt here and chalk my disappointment in the storyline up to her having limitations from the higher-ups.
Literary Value: 3/5
Compared with Johnston’s other book that I’ve read, I felt that this book was so-so in the writing area. I appreciated the balance of internal struggle with that of the dialogue and I think Johnston really does well writing the political content without making it seem to dry or uninteresting. But again, I wasn’t wowed by this book. In some ways, it came across as very formulaic, in that the writing didn’t delve too much below the surface and a lot of the “discoveries” made by Padmé were told rather than shown. I think as a work, it’s written well enough, but it felt a bit impersonal and I couldn’t really connect with it as much as I was hoping.
Entertainment Factor: 2/5
As I said earlier, I really wanted to like this book. I love Padmé as a character and I was really hoping for a exciting plot to sink my teeth into. Unfortunately, the story was really lacking in plot. Mostly, it was just a series of events, with a few “close ones” for Padmé and co. However, I did enjoy being immersed in the Star Wars universe while reading it, and it was nice to see mentions of people and events from the Phantom Menace, which pre-dates the events in this book. I wasn’t bored, but the book’s aimless plot and slow pacing had me setting the book down frequently.
Cover Art: 4/5
I really, really love this cover. It’s a gorgeous cover and I love the duality of showing Padmé and Amidala side-by-side, since a major theme of this book is the duality of personas that Padmé has to construct. She is Amidala, but she’s also Senator Amidala, and then, she’s also just Padmé. The cover captures this beautifully. It’s also just a really beautifully rendered portrait of her. I love the textural quality of it, that makes it appear almost airbrushed. The colors are bold and if I were shopping in a store and saw this, I’d immediately go pick it up.
Overall Rating: 3/5 Blasters
For me, this book played to my nostalgia for the Padmé years of Star Wars. She’s one of my favorite characters and so I was really excited about this book and I did enjoy reading more closely about her life and her work towards becoming a Senator. I felt like I got to know her character better and understand her motivations. Was this book amazing? No. It was decently written and the politics involved didn’t bore me, but the overall aimless plot had me putting it down more often than I would have liked.
I think any fan of Star Wars would enjoy aspects of this book, especially if you’re an Amidala fan, like me. However, outside of that, this book can be a bit tedious in places and overall just lacks action and impact. So it’s just average for me.
Thoughts & Thanks
Any fans of Star Wars out there? Have you checked out this book? What was your take? Let’s chat in the comments! And thank you for reading this review, please let me know what you think in the comments and, as always, happy reading!