Queen’s Peril, a new Star Wars novel by E.K. Johnston, takes place prior to and during The Phantom Menace, providing us the perspective of Padmé and her handmaidens. For me, this connection to Episode I was both the best and the worst part about this book. Padmé’s relationship with her handmaidens has always been intriguing to me, and I was eager to learn more about them. This provided me with an attachment to the characters before I even got started. I enjoyed getting to know each of the handmaidens and how they, together with Padmé, created the persona of the Queen. This character development is the main focus of the novel, along with some political subplots. This was perfect for what I wanted but might seem a bit slow to those looking for a more plot-focused read.
In the final fourth of the novel, the events of The Phantom Menace take place. This is the first true action we see and, to me, the weakest part of the book. It’s merely a quick replay of events I’d already watched (and read about) with a slightly different perspective. It feels rushed and forced. I imagine it’s hard to rewrite part of a movie without it feeling forced, but personally I’d rather this section was just left out and replaced with an original, somewhat more minor crisis that the girls had to work through together.
We also get single brief glimpses of perspective from other characters in The Phantom Menace such as Palpatine, Obi-Wan, and Jar Jar. These seemed very out of place and unnecessary. They contributed nothing significant, and the book would flow much better without them.
If you like Padmé already, then you’ll probably enjoy this book. I loved learning more about Naboo’s culture, seeing Padmé’s ascent to the throne, and finding out who each of her handmaidens were. Otherwise, however, the story doesn’t contribute much to the Star Wars canon, nor is it a great read on its own merit (if you don’t care about Star Wars). Altogether, I give Queen’s Peril 3 out of 5 stars for being an enjoyable but unremarkable read for Star Wars fans.
Many thanks to Disney Publishing and Netgalley for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.