Cover Image: Star Wars Queen's Peril

Star Wars Queen's Peril

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Anybody who knows me knows that Padme Amidala is my favorite star wars characters across all movies and other media. Ever since I was a small child going to see Episode I in theaters with my father, I have always resonated with her and the Amidala trilogy that Johnston has been putting out has just made me so, so happy. Queen's Peril in particular has been my favorite of the two books published so far mostly due to the fact that it covers the background of her loyal handmaidens. 

In Episode I: The Phantom Menace we get to see the succinct style and grace of Amidala's handmaidens in action on the screen, but we don't get to experience the background to their story. Why are they there? What do they do? How were they chosen? Why do they do what they do? Queen's Peril answers all of those questions and more, and it has absolutely delighted me to read through this. 

I am eagerly awaiting Queen's Hope release this November and highly recommend Queens Peril (and Queen's Shadow for that matter!) to any fan of the Star Wars prequel era stories- particularly those who love high intrigue, learning the background of Amidala's incredible handmaidens, and those who just love Star Wars!
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DNF - did not finish. I decided not to finish this title. It was not for me. Thank you, publisher, and NetGalley for the early copy.
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A surprisingly fantastic series and a worthy follow-up to one of my favorite Star Wars novels in the modern era of Sar Wars writing. Creating a story for Padme, the often ignored character creates a feminist story that helps build upon the legacy of her daughter and the legacy she should have been given in the movies. The cast of characters are great and create such a rich web of relationships that are truly heartbreaking with the awareness of the future of Padme and the planet.
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E.K. Johnston’s Queen’s Shadow turned out to be one of my favorite new Star Wars novels and Queen’s Peril is the perfect follow up. If you’ve read Queen’s Shadow, you were probably like me – desperately wanting to know more about Padmé Amidala and her handmaidens and the adventures they had before her reign as Queen of Naboo came to an end. As much as I enjoyed the overall story in Queen’s Shadow the best part – really, the most important part – of the book was the relationships between the former queen and her handmaidens and aides.

Strong, capable young women kicking butt and holding their own in the galaxy is everything I need in a Star Wars book. And between Queen’s Shadow and Queen’s Peril we get plenty of it.

The handmaidens are such an underutilized part of The Phantom Menace story and Queen’s Peril really fleshes out the group and gives them the agency they deserve. We know from the first book that the different handmaids played different parts throughout the timeframe spanning the film but we finally get to see those stories play out for ourselves. But don’t think that this book simply retells the film. It does so much more.

At the beginning of the book, Padmé is just taking the throne and Panaka is diligently amassing a group of talented young women to serve not just as handmaids but as advisors and protectors. We learn the girls’ backgrounds, hidden talents, and passions and then see how they bring those to play in service to the queen. But as much as we learn about them as individuals we also learn how they operate as a whole. We learn their little tricks – like swapping one another out as decoys for Padmé – and more. We learn the sacrifices they make to serve in those positions. We can see how Rabé’s unexpected criminal talents or Eirtaé’s technological skills come to the queen’s aid.

Much of Queen’s Peril takes place before the Phantom Menace which really helps readers get invested. We know what’s coming but we don’t have to worry about it too much. E.K. Johnston keeps us aware of what’s going on in the galaxy surrounding them while letting them become the cohesive group you’ll come to love (or love already if you’ve read Queen’s Shadow). The girls learn how to work together, get involved in some very normal teenage hijinks, and pull off some pretty gutsy diplomatic plays.

All the while, they’re leading up to the biggest fight of their lives.

While it’s exciting at times to see familiar faces from The Phantom Menace (Anakin, Jar Jar Binks, Palpatine, and several others all make very brief interlude appearances), Queen’s Peril is at it’s strongest with it focuses on the handmaidens and telling their own part of the story. The moment’s where E.K. Johnston makes The Phantom Menace her own and retells the scenes from a new perspective are the really the most interesting. For example, we see Saché risk everything even though she’s the youngest – still just a child more so than any of the rest – to protect Naboo is far more compelling (as alluded to in the previous book).

If you’re a fan of the prequel era or at least just a Padmé fan you’ll want to read Queen’s Peril. But I highly recommend both books in E.K. Johnston’s Padmé Amidala “duology” and I would encourage people to read them in the order they were published as I think it adds even more to the story. That said, either way you read them is great! Also, much like with Claudia’ Gray’s Lost Stars, readers need to look past their initial hesitation to read something that seems “too young adult” and embrace the stories waiting to be told. (That said, they are definitely perfect for young adult fans, too.)

Don’t miss these books, Star Wars fans!

A REVIEW COPY WAS PROVIDED FOR THE PURPOSE OF REVIEW.
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I include Johnston's novels in my classroom library and this one will be no different. It isn't as complex as Roanhorse's exploration of Poe Dameron, but the story moves quickly and the characterization is as nuanced was the earlier books in the series.
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4/5 stars — a nostalgic, clever insight into Amidala’s many faces

Like Queen’s Shadow by the same author, Queen’s Peril dives deep into the life of Padmé Naberrie, better known as Queen (and later Senator) Amidala of Naboo. In a short, (bitter)sweet story, the prequel novel offers insight into Padmé’s duties and dreams, the perilous lines she walks as a politician balancing what is expected of her as a leader and what she wants for the future of her people. But most of all, this story acknowledges and celebrates that the iconic queen was a teenage girl—and that’s what makes it so much fun to read.

Padmé’s five handmaidens, who also serve as bodyguards and decoys, play major roles. Sabé (played by Keira Knightley in The Phantom Menace!), is a musical prodigy who always comes in second, a fact she turns to her advantage in supporting her new queen. Each of the others brings her own expertise to the queen’s coterie, and they slowly form a unit in which each girl’s strengths shore up the others’ weaknesses. Although they train to protect the queen by fighting, they have an assortment of strengths beyond physical prowess, upholding the post-Whedon understanding of what it means to be a “strong woman.” This is true to canon with regard to Padmé, and I liked seeing it spelled out: “Her appearance was her first line of defense, and she planned to muster it as deliberately as possible.” Amidala, a constructed persona, is elegant and eye-catching on purpose. Beauty is her tool. 

Again, Johnston takes into account that this is a group of teenagers—skilled, dedicated ones, but still children. She writes the queen and her handmaidens like the young women they are, including occasional squabbles from big and conflicting personalities living in proximity. Sometimes, they take risks and flout rules—at one point, they even sneak out to go to a concert! Padmé, like most kids, finds adults frustrating at times. Once, other planets’ dignitaries send their children to a gathering she organized as a slight, but Padme’s response (“Dealing with adults could be very tiresome.”) is gold. Her response to being underestimated by the captain of her royal guard will resonate with anyone who’s ever been a young girl: “We have worked to become a fluid, adaptable group, and we are powerful, Captain. Even if it’s not the kind of power you are accustomed to.” Finally, Johnston adds two separate references to menstruation (yay!), including an awkward first period and the queen needing to miss duties because of period pain. 

On a craft level, I found a lot to love in Queen’s Peril. From the decision to keep the word count low to the balance between nods to canon and new material, the book was well-written and well-edited. Johnston’s good at writing intellectual property and makes good use of cameos and POV inserts by much-loved (and much-hated) characters. There’s unexpected humor (dark, appropriately) in some of the parts focused on the Sith lords: Maul not bothering to find out where the chute in the generator room leads; Sidious possibly kicking off the attack on Naboo early because he wanted a bigger office. Further, Johnston knows how to wield the weight of Star Wars canon to emotionally devastating effect, which is particularly evident for a character like Padmé whose arc is eventually tragic. 

Two main things kept this from being a five-star book, in my opinion. First, while I enjoyed the short length of the book, I felt the pacing was off in the third act. Everything after the Trade Federation blockade felt rushed, possibly as a result of juggling so many points of view and possibly because of several massive time skips. I assume those skips were necessary from an IP standpoint so as not to rehash scenes directly from The Phantom Menace, but those were exactly the places where I would have liked this nuanced version of Padmé’s insight, as well as that of her handmaidens. Second, while I thought most of the emotional hits landed, there were a few places where drama tipped over the edge into melodrama, making otherwise-serious moments feel laughable. Overall, however, the book worked for me. 

And as usual, here are a few tidbits/quotes that I particularly enjoyed that don’t really fit into any of the above categories.
- use of parallel construction at the sentence and story levels to deliver a few well-timed emotional punches
- the handmaidens: “We’ll be your shadow.”
- Jar-Jar: “He’d heard stories about how uncivilized the Naboo were all his life, but the buildings he saw indicated that they must be at least reasonably intelligent.” The movies framed Jar-Jar in a way that was failed comedy at best and colonizer-centric at worst, so I enjoyed this bit of retaliation.
- the deactivated Trade Federation droids being melted down and their high-quality materials used, in true Naboo form, for art

To summarize: I enjoyed Queen’s Peril at least as much as Queen’s Shadow, although I think reading them in the opposite of publication order (ie. according to the actual timeline of events) would have made Queen’s Shadow more resonant. I recommend both books to Star Wars fans—although your mileage will definitely vary depending on whether you love or hate the prequel trilogy. 

Content warnings: brief physical torture, prison camps, slavery mention (fictional)
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Have I time traveled back to 1999? Am I a 10 year old girl forever depressed that I can't be a handmaiden because the dimple in my chin would give me away and yet at the same time I spend hours in my bathroom mirror practicing Amidala's makeup?

Because that's what this book felt like.

If you love Star Wars and you love the Phantom Menace and you think it would be fun to read about what it was like for Padmé when she first became queen, you'll probably like this book.

I read it from a total fangirl perspective and thoroughly enjoyed it. I definitely had some issues: Padmé didn't quite feel like the Padmé I know and love, and the last third that crosses over with the movie felt superfluous and also makes the book less of a novel on its own, since important events were either skimmed over or not mentioned at all, and if you don't have the plot of the movie fresh in your mind you'll be pretty confused. Honestly I would have preferred the book to end right as the invasion begins.

But it was total nostalgia to go back to Naboo and revisit everything. I loved getting to know the individual handmaidens more and read about the evolution of them as bodyguards and doubles (I've always assumed this was standard practice for the Queen, and to be honest I'm still skeptical that they came up with the whole elaborate plan themselves, but whatever, this book is just for fun and not part of my canon).

I haven't read any of EK Johnston's other Star Wars novels, but I just might have to check them out now!
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My dad is a huge starwars fan so I grew up surrounded by starwars everything. This book was a fun read and I loved getting to look into the life of padme. Her role as queen was great and she was a powerful female lead. Loved reading about her and learning a bit more about her story.
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I enjoyed this inside-look into the time leading up to the events of the THE PHANTOM MENACE, especially the detailed description of how Padmé became Queen Amidala and how she assembled her handmaidens. I loved the little insights into other favorite Star Wars characters and how they might come into play in later episodes.

I had a hard time with the book skipping around so much, especially once we started to cover events that take place during THE PHANTOM MENACE. I actually would have preferred to experience the movie events within the text of the book. While we got to see different perspectives not followed in the movies, I would have liked to see more of Padmé and even Obi-Wan's internal struggles in the text. 

4/5 stars.
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Queen's Peril recalls the events that shaped one of the major Star Wars eras, but suffers from the problems that characterize other Johnson's books. A title  is satisfactory for fans of The Phantom Menace and adolescent teenage girls can be a bit boring for an older reader.
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Queen’s Peril follows Padme as she becomes queen and chooses her handmaidens. It covers events all the way through Episode I, often from the perspective of the handmaidens.

This book took me by surprise in many ways. Padme is arguably my favorite Star Wars character so I always knew I would enjoy this story. But I loved the focus on her handmaidens as well. They became such interesting characters and such an important part of the story. And I adored how this novel told the story of Episode I but from different locations and perspectives. Some of the handmaidens remained on Naboo when Padme left at the beginning of Episode I and some of them remained on the ship when Padme left to visit the town on Tatooine. I loved hearing the story told through their experiences. Honestly this was a really great book. The best Star Wars book I have read in a while and my favorite one E. K. Johnston has written.
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Star Wars: Queen's Peril is a prequel to E.K. Johnston's other novel about Padme Amidala, Queen's Shadow. However, I think this novel works better because it's an origin story for Padme's handmaidens. Where Queen's Shadow seemed to assume we were already invested in the handmaidens, Queen's Peril shows how and why they came to serve the queen - and therefore make me feel more invested. 

I appreciate how Johnston gives each handmaiden a distinct personality and, for the most part, a distinct character arc throughout the book. Some of my favorite scenes contain no action, no political intrigue - just the handmaidens talking with each other and Padme. I was surprised at how well a glorified girls' slumber party worked in a Star Wars novel. 

Queen's Peril also provides some in-depth world-building. We learn more about the Naboo government and other planets in the Chommell Sector. The book devotes quite a bit of attention to the intricacies of Naboo court etiquette and role of the queen. It's clear Johnston had spent quite a bit of time to developing the world and I could easily read a whole book just about Naboo history. 

Unfortunately, like a lot of books in the Star Wars canon, Queen's Peril struggles with plotting and fulfilling character arcs. The the last quarter of the book seems tacked on to a story about Padme and the handmaidens. The book starts to overlap with the events of The Phantom Menace, which gives us a chance to see what the handmaidens were doing during the events of the film. But it also meant that their character arcs became subordinated to retelling scenes from a movie that came out two decades ago. 

Ultimately, I enjoyed seeing the handmaidens operate as a team and getting to know them as individuals. This book isn't for everyone, but if you're dying to learn more about Naboo and the queen's handmaidens then Queen's Peril will provide.
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STAR WARS: QUEEN'S PERIL is the perfect addition to any Star Wars fan's collection.

EK Johnston blew me away with her first Padme novel, STAR WARS: QUEEN'S SHADOW, and this follow-up -- which is actually a sequel to the aforementioned title -- is just as great!

The story opens with Padme Naberrie hoping, praying, WISHING to become Queen, while expressing how great a job she'll do in the position.... and the story takes off from there.

Johnston has an incredible talent for crafting strong, independent, determined and FIERCE female characters, which is magnified and reflected in QUEEN'S PERIL. In a fandom notorious for crafting strong, action-hero women (see: the badass-and-beautiful Princess Leia in the Original Trilogy, the ambitious Rey in the Sequel Trilogy), Johnston manages to exhibit and exemplify Padme's strengths one-hundred-fold. Padme, like Rey, is brave. Like Leia, she's loyal. She's brilliant, and even a little cunning, and she's SUCH a fun protagonist to follow.

Also, this novel ties right into THE PHANTOM MENACE, giving a glimpse into what's happening off-screen during the film, which made it super interesting to read!

All in all, if you're a Star Wars fan, you absolutely MUST read this novel. Beautifully written and phenomenally engaging, Johnston has done it again!
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I love so much what Johnston has done with these two books.

Aside form the fact that I actually kind of liked the prequels - especially the first one - I feel like Johnston has transcended the source material anyway, so if you didn't like the prequels, please don't let that stop you from reading these books. The level of worldbuilding, attention to detail, and inclusion are just mind boggling and as far as I'm concerned set Queen's Shadow and Queen's Peril on the level with any epic SFF book where politics and power take the main stage.

I had actually just watched Hamilton before I sat down to start reading this, and it made a really interesting counterpoint. (Bear with me.) What's always fascinated me about Hamilton is the mythologizing of the relationships between the men in the story - men set at the knife edge of a tumultuous time, men who were both scholars and fighters. And although the Schuyler sisters have a great arc, the whole point of Angelica's is the tragedy of how she's locked out of the stage because she's a woman. 

That's not anybody's fault; that's just how the story had to go to make sense in its fictionalized historical context, and hey, at least the injustice of that was pointed out, but when I started Queen's Peril it made me realize why Johnston's Queen books had such a magnetic resonance for me. Johnston is creating the same level of epic, larger than life inter-personal relationships between these young women are whip smart, who are resilient, and brave, and loyal, and who are making a place in history even if all of them, including Padme, are overshadowed by the persona of Amidala.

God, I could read these forever.
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Tells how Padme first handled becoming queen and the role she took of her own handmaiden. 
I didnt think this book was strong at all. It was kind of boring at first and the second half tied into phantom menace so you didn't really need to see what was happening but I felt like it skipped a lot of parts because you would think you were one place but then you were somewhere else.
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E.K. Johnston delivers another exquisite Star Wars novel about Naboo’s Queen, Amidala. While there is so much Star Wars lore and canon available, a story that I’ve often felt was one of the more neglected ones, was the story of Padmé Naberrie (Amidala) and her time as one of the youngest queens in Naboo’s history. As the story focuses on Amidala’s beginnings as queen, there is a lot of history to follow. However, Johnston lays all of the lore out in a way that isn’t daunting and even if you’ve never picked up one of the other Star Wars novels, you’ll be able to keep up easily with Queen’s Peril. 

Although it’s unnecessary to read the other books to be able to follow along with Queen’s Peril, it may be beneficial to revisit Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace as the story in Queen’s Peril runs parallel to it. Therefore, it might be a good precursor to the elements found within the book. Regardless, the tale of Amidala’s reign is always been one that’s been fascinating and this is solidified further in Queen’s Peril. Fans of the otherworldly franchise will be thrilled with some of the easter eggs that will be found whilst reading and Johnston’s descriptions of everything from the landscapes and architecture to the art of Naboo and Amidala’s royal fashions are so vivid that you won’t be able to put the book down. 

The above said, the book truly flourishes with its character-driven plot. Queen’s Peril gives readers a view into the life of both Padmé and her handmaidens Sabé, Eirtaé, Yané, Rabé and Saché. We see the young girls go from being wary of one another to true friends - even though they didn’t always agree on everything that was set into their paths. It was interesting to see how the group found ways to make sure that everyone felt included and safe, despite their disagreements. It’s rare that you read a YA book that doesn’t end up with too much dramatic brouhaha as it relates to a group of young girls, but Queen’s Peril manages smartly to avoid that. 

As a fan of Padmé, I truly enjoyed Queen’s Peril for giving us more time with the Queen after her reign begins and fills in the gaps that weren’t addressed in the films. Fans who are looking to be further entrenched in the prequel series should definitely add this book to their TBR lists.
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I absolutely love the Star Wars prequels and this book is an amazing addition to the canon universe. Padme's story is often one that's overlooked in favor of Anakin's or Obi-Wan's, but this novel explores a previously glossed over story. 

This book was beautifully written and gave a lot of insight on what Padme and her handmaidens were doing during episode I. The presence of strong, healthy female friendships was a nice bonus and greatly enhanced the story. 

I will 100% be picking up the next books in this series.
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A great sequel to Queen’s Shadow. Provides more background development into Padmae Amidala’s character and other events that took place before and during Phantom Menace. Pacing was good, slightly slow in a couple of places but an fantastic read.
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Having thoroughly enjoyed Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston, I eagerly pre-ordered Queen’s Peril, even though I’d been granted an ARC ebook by the publisher.

I own all the new canon Star Wars books in hardcover, so there was no doubt I’d be purchasing this book anyway.

However, upon opening the book, I was thoroughly confused.

This is Book 2 isn’t it? Queen’s Shadow was Book 1. Surely Queen’s Peril would pick up where Queen’s Shadow left off.

If that was your assumption, then you, like me, would be dead wrong.

Queen’s Peril Review

Queen’s Peril takes place some odd years before Queen’s Shadow, back to the very day when Padme becomes queen.

I was disappointed to say the least.

I did not want a book that goes back. Especially not a book that covers already existing space in the canon. I wanted something new. I wanted more off-screen stories.

Instead, we get a book that largely overlaps Episode 1–a movie I’ve watched so many times I used to be able to quote it word for word beginning to end.

The only redeeming spot is that everywhere that is in direct correlation gets glossed over with “and this happened.”

I’m assuming that was a decision made from the higher-ups like Pablo Hidalgo. Nobody unfamiliar with the Star Wars universe would be likely to read this book, so thus they decided to gloss over the details.

But enough semi-ranting, let’s talk about this book’s content.

What it’s got going for it

Queen’s Peril focuses more on the handmaidens than it does Padme, which was a mediocre decision at best. I didn’t like half of the handmaidens, and I bought the book to read about Padme.

Of course, Padme is mostly what the book is about, but it’s really about how the handmaidens were particularly created to keep her safe, and how they accomplished that. It highlights their learning to act like each other and their many failed practices until they got it right.

And what it doesn’t

It’s a fun little bit seeing how this all developed, but unfortunately the stakes in the story are all widely known. You know how the story ends. You know how the villain loses.

It’s all rather stale because there is nothing on the line.

A story in the offscreen time between Episode’s 2 and 3 would have still left us knowing the end, but because it’s an unknown, it could still offer mystery and excitement as we see how the heroes escape their predicaments and survive to the next movie.

Instead we get a rehashed story with a half-interesting angle.

Final Thoughts

I can’t even waste another paragraph talking about Queen’s Peril, though I’m usually more verbose in my reviews. It was a decent book, don’t get be wrong. I finished it and enjoyed it. But it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and it wasn’t what I wanted it to be, and that sort of soured my experience.
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EK Johnston proves again that she's an invaluable author in the new Star Wars canon. With this book, her third in the Star Wars universe, Johnston gives Star Wars a badass, powerful, and uplifting, feminine tone that the genre often lacks.
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