Queen’s Peril takes a deep dive into Padmé’s journey from a citizen of Naboo with high ambitions and her election as Queen to her ability to win back her people as seen at the end of The Phantom Menace. E. K. Johnston successfully adds a new perspective to the woman and her handmaidens as they train, prepare, plan, and fight together.
The author sets up Padmé to strive towards protecting Naboo. This is not only seen through her family in the beginning by portraying her earlier exposure into politics and the drive to become Queen, but it is also revealed in the final chapter with her aiming for the Galactic Senate to achieve her goal, through the parallels of the first Star Wars saga.
The biggest theme thread throughout the book is the concept of identity, specifically secret identities. While we are introduced to the idea that Queen Amidala is a role played by both Padmé and one of her handmaidens in The Phantom Menace, Johnston explores this even further and exposes the layers of the trust, loyalty, and friendship the Queen’s group maintains.
There are two examples of secret identity the reader would immediately recognize. Padmé’s secret, as stated before, is something Star Wars fans are already familiar with – she and Amidala are two different identities. In fact, the author jumps back and forth between the two names when the two characters are distinctly different. Senator Palpatine’s secret persona is Darth Sidious. However, what the reader might not expect is that the parallels run even deeper.
Each of the handmaidens has their own backstory dedicated to how each of them is recruited into the party, and every single one has a perfect reason to join. They choose different professions to help mask who they are and to help Padmé blend in as one of them: another handmaiden. They even changed their names. Each of them, including Padmé, train to fight and learn skills from each other, masking their identities further. All of this has one goal in mind – to keep the Queen safe.
The leading and main example lies with Tsabin, the other main character in this book. She changes her name to Sabé. She’s a musician and trained to support others instead of being a leader. This results in her turning into Padmé’s double – they both share the role of Amidala, as seen in The Phantom Menace. The two women could pass as twins, and after mimicking and matching voices, they successfully both pass as the Queen. Their similarities prove to be successful, but it’s in more ways than one. It leads to tension and hurt between the two that could potentially jeopardize their mission and the safety of Padmé.
At no point does this book cease to capture the reader’s attention. The consistent pace and deep character development in addition to a compelling story makes this book a must-read, especially for any and all Star Wars lovers. If you think you know Padmé and her team, you need to read this book.
May the Force be with You!