Queen’s Shadow (A Star Wars novel)
By E.K. Johnston
When I say that this book kicked me in my soul, I’m not kidding. I haven’t been reduced to tears like I was reading this book in a very, very long time. I read a lot of books, more than I read comics if I’m being completely honest, and to have a book strip me bare, and lay my pieces out in front of me, well, that was an unexpected turn of events to come from a Star Wars book, of all things.
I’m a Star Wars fan. That much should be obvious, considering that I co-host a podcast on the OCG network. I read tons of the old EU novels. I didn’t finish more of them because they were dry, technical, hard sci-fi that I just couldn’t get through because it’s not my thing. QUEEN’S SHADOW is not that.
This book is beautifully written. Characters, scenes, and dialogue are all crafted with care and they spring to life on the page. The worlds are familiar in that we don’t need to have encyclopedic knowledge of the Star Wars universe to feel welcomed and understand the universe.
QUEEN’S SHADOW takes place between episodes 1 and 2, after Padme steps down from being Queen of Naboo, and begins her life as a Senator on Coruscant. The questions about Padme’s retinue as Senator, and why she had handmaidens when no one else did play a central role. This book gives us stories and names for these women who hover around the Queen nee Senator. Bail Organa, Mon Mothma and the other Senators we meet later on the Clone Wars cartoon play central roles, and we see the development of Padme’s relationships with them.
Queen’s Shadow navigates the ‘prequel trap’ masterfully, weaving its own story between events that are established canon in the cinematic narrative. Layers of political intrigue drive the story, and familiar faces ground us in the time frame.
The book opens with a scene that I had to read twice because it invokes the imagery of Padme’s death. It kicked me in a soft spot that I didn’t know I had. Apparently, almost exactly 15 years later, I’m still not over that particular emotional trauma. (Frankly, I saw Revenge of the Sith in the cinema twice, and watched it on DVD almost weekly for months after it was released so don’t question my devotion to this movie.)
Review and rating
The characters spoke to me. Messages that I needed to hear, coming from one of the most powerful and influential women in Star Wars. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it kicked me in the soul and reduced me to tears several times. I fell in love with all of these women. I am so thankful that these background characters are getting the recognition they deserve. Giving these women who we watched onscreen for years names above all else, giving them stories and motivations, really reinforced that women have always been a part of the Star Wars galaxy. If you love Star Wars, get this book. It’s awesome to see the political side in a world where blasters and Jedi are so often the main focus.
Picking up this book was the greatest choice I have made in months. I highly recommend it. It is a breath of fresh air, and is equivalent to the best parts of The Clone Wars Cartoon. I fear it’s going to be overlooked because of the subject matter.
Thank you for this book, E.K. Johnston, may the Force be with you.