Star Wars: Queen’s Hope is the third in E.K. Johnson’s series focused on Padme Amidala. Johnson developed layered characters in Padme and her handmaidens over the series. Each of the titles provides Padme space to develop dialog worthy of a Queen. Queen’s Hope begins at the end of Attack of the Clones and covers the time period at the start of the Clone Wars. Johnson’s work has provided significant additions to characters limited in Lucas’ movies. Star Wars: Queen’s Hope is an essential read for fans of Padme and those that want deeper characters than in the movie scripts.
Author: E.K. Johnson
Publisher: Disney Press
Released: April 5, 2022
Johnson, who also wrote the excellent Ashoka stand alone novel, has given the characters of Padme and her handmaidens, including Sabe, Sache, and Dorme. Throughout each of Johnson’s titles, each handmaiden is treated as an individual with a meaningful role. The first book, Queen’s Shadow, explored the transition from Queen to Senator. The second title, Queen’s Peril, goes back to the time prior to and around the Trade Federation of Naboo. While knowledge of these two titles adds to the richness of the characters, it is not required to enjoy Queen’s Hope. Additionally, Johnson weaves in plot threads and characters from both the Clone Wars cartoon and the Marvel comics series. Johnson creates a narrative that is satisfying to casual readers, and rewarding to fans
Star Wars: Queen’s Hope starts as Padme and Anakin prepare for the wedding shown at the end of Attack of the Clones. Starting here adds depth to a rushed scene and gives both characters the opportunity to explore feelings. However, in true Star Wars fashion, there is a rescue mission that calls Padme and Anakin away. Fortunately, they are back in time for the wedding. Johnson’s expansion of the events around the wedding continues the excellent writing she’s done in the other two Queen titles (Queen’s Shadow and Queen’s Peril).
The chapters then begin following a number of characters including Sabe, Anakin, and others. Dorme and the Senatorial handmaidens are dealing with the deaths witnessed in Attack of the Clones. The Senate is working through the start of the war. Sache is combating Naboo politics. At first, this segmentation begins to pull at the book’s focus, but Johnson rightly returns the focus to Padme and Sabe for the majority of the book.
The multiple characters and focus create a narrative that is not as tight as the first title. However, all the moving pieces coming together creates an excellent Star Wars adventure. Padme calls on Sabe to take her place within the Senate as she heads out on a suspicious mission. Sabe has been Senator Amidala before, but not for this length of time. Johnson uses this situation to explore Sabe’s personality and growth since being the Queen’s handmaiden. Underneath the adventure is an emotional current of sisterhood, friendship, and new relationships.
Star Wars fans will enjoy the care and attention Johnson pays to Padme and Anakin’s relationship. The movies and even the Clone Wars cartoon do not go into the emotional side of the marriage. Furthermore, Sabe is thrust into the middle in her body double role. Seeing how Sabe responds to the relationship is part of the emotional journey of the book.
Additionally, Johnson provides insight into Chancellor Palpatine’s machinations. These sections provide greater context to the political movements and schemes of Darth Sidious. It is rare to get this glimpse in the modern Disney canon. Mon Mothma and Bail Organa have roles to play, but the character development is minor compared to the first novel.
Johnson frames each section of the book with a self-contained formative story of different female characters. Shim Skywalker, Beru Whitesun, and Breha Organa are provided short narratives that expand their characters. These sections strengthen the character development present throughout the book and the series.
Representation and Characterization
Johnson treats readers to diverse characters, many of which had little development in visual Star Wars media. Sabe and Pame both struggle with their own identity while trying to make a difference in the world. The themes of identity are echoed through the diverse representation of people, species, and droids. Johnson imbues each of her characters with care and humanity.
High Praise for Queen’s Hope
As someone familiar with Star Wars canon, Johnson fills the book with small nods and an awareness of the greater mythos. Fortunately, Johnson never loses sight of the emotional and narrative core of the series. Padme and Sabe’s emotional and character growth in Queen’s Hope and across the series is what their characters deserved. While fans know how Padme’s story ends, E.K. Johnson’s work gave life to the character. Sabe has already made appearances in the Darth Vader comic series, but Johnson creates a launching point for future adventures during the Empire’s reign.
Star Wars: Queen’s Hope is whole heartily recommended to any Star Wars extended universe fan. Anyone, young or old, that watched the movies and wanted something deeper than the stiff characterizations on screen will enjoy E.K. Johnson’s work. Star Wars is a rich universe and Queen’s Hope adds an excellent new layer.