Star Wars: Queen’s Hope is the latest in E.K. Johnston’s series of young adult books focused on Padmé Amidala, offering an emotional early story of the Clone Wars.
Star Wars: Queen’s Hope
Written By: E. K. Johnston
Published By: Disney Books
Release Date: April 5, 2022
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The third novel in the “Padmé Trilogy” arrives this week, and I couldn’t be more excited. I know these books, Queen’s Shadow and Queen’s Peril, haven’t been for everyone. For me, however, they’ve managed to hit the right note every time and have been extremely my shit. Queen’s Hope is no different, and I found myself breezing through this new story with the same quickness as the others.
The release of these books have been kinda funny. Shadow tells the story of Padmé passing the crown and taking up the position of Senator in the time between Episode I and II. Yet Peril served as a prequel to that, showing the events leading to The Phantom Menace (and that film itself from a different perspective). Hope brings the story back around, serving as a sequel to the first book, though featuring important plot points from that prequel.
Basically, don’t think about it too much. The order seems strange, yet somehow works for these stories and manages to feel like a singular cohesive story being told across all three novels.
Hope picks up right at the end of Attack of the Clones, showing Padmé as she prepares for her secret wedding with Anakin (and even a quick side-adventure they apparently had before the nuptials we saw in the film). When I first heard about the novel starting at this point, I can’t say I was all the interested. It just wasn’t a section of time I felt needed to be revisited.
As has been the case with pretty much all of the re-visited moments in these novels, it turned out to be a wonderful change in perspective. It offered a new look at this pivotal moment, adding greater context to the events surrounding it while centering their love and affection for one another (something we didn’t see enough of in the movies).
That and it’s neat to see how Padmé’s prior loyalties have to shift to account for this dramatic new change. It’s a smaller part of the book, however, but I was impressed with how it was handled and enhanced a moment I’ve seen countless times.
After the wedding, the rest of the novel puts the spotlight on the early days of the Clone Wars. Padmé must embark on a dangerous mission to test out new (potential) allies, that will bring the reality of the war in to focus. The problem, however, is she has to do this without anyone knowing she’s gone.
Thus, she enlists the aid of her Handmaidens, to make the “switch” like they used to do during her days as the Queen. As Sabé and Padmé embark on their individual missions, they come face to face with not only the perils of war, but the reality of how much their relationship has changed.
In order to avoid any spoilers, I think that’s about where I’ll leave things. Honestly, though, the story—while engaging and offering an untold Clone Wars tale—isn’t the best thing about Queen’s Hope. Much like the other novels in this trilogy, the primary focus is put entirely on the characters and their relationships with one another.
Throughout this series, we’ve seen how the Handmaidens got started, the close bonds they shared, as well as how they had to find ways to move on into new phases of their life. Hope does this once again and to phenomenal affect.
Building on all that’s come before, the emotional connection to these characters is ridiculous strong. Despite the previous novel having come out almost two years ago, I was impressed at how quickly I was able to get back into the flow of this story and these characters. It was almost like no time had passed at all, and I was sitting among old friends.
For me, this has always been this particular series’ true strength. EK Johnston has a wonderful way of crafting these interpersonal relationships that makes you, the reader, feel like you’re part of the dynamic, not simply a voyeur looking in. She makes these characters, even the “bigger” ones from the movies, feel more human; putting them on a more relatable level that’s deeply engaging.
I think this is where these books don’t land with everyone. The central focus is very much on the character relationships to the point the story is…just kinda there. There’s no big revelations to uncover, and the overall plot(s) can be fairly straightforward, moving from one event to another and instead focusing on how the characters deal with those events.
That’s not to say there aren’t some interesting plot tidbits here and there (I really loved the deeper dive into Sabé’s work on Tatooine freeing slaves), but they’re presented in a more matter-of-fact manner than usual. For me, this totally works. I’ve come to a stronger emotional connection with these handmaidens than a bunch of other Star Wars characters we’ve gotten over the years.
Staying the Course
Ultimately, I really enjoyed Queen’s Hope. All three of these novels have hit the right spot for me, and Hope keeps the same overall feelings intact. I think I breezed through it in just a couple days. While not everything landed for me (some of the vignettes felt weirdly placed), by the time I turned the last page I found myself wanting even more, though bummed as we already know how their stories end…
Here’s the thing. If you loved the first couple books, you’ll love Queen’s Hope for pretty much all the same reasons. Conversely, if these novels never landed for you, there’s nothing new in this story that’s going to change your mind. I loved it, and it felt like a fitting, emotional, end to the story Queen’s Shadow started telling.