ith the upcoming release of E.K. Johnston's Queen's Hope, we at Youtini thought it was the perfect time to look back on the previous adventures of Padmé and her handmaidens! If you haven't read the first two novels of the Queen Trilogy or even if it's just been a while, check out these helpful summaries co-written by the fantastic Emma Parke and Charles Hanckel.
Note: Even though the summaries below are presented in chronological order, we still recommend that you read the trilogy in release order if you're diving in for the first time by beginning with Queen's Shadow and following up with Queen's Peril for the most enriching reading experience!
Queen’s Peril by E.K. Johnston was released on June second, 2020. It is the second book in this quote-un-quote “Queen’s” trilogy, however I will be discussing it first since it takes place in 32 BBY, which is chronologically before Queen’s Shadow, since Shadow takes place in 28 BBY.
This book starts out with an election. And not just any election at that: it’s the election for Queen of Naboo. Padmé Naberrie runs for Queen as Padmé Amidala, and is forever known by that name. Padmé Amidala won the election, which wasn’t a surprise according to Royal Naboo Security Forces Captain Panaka, Senator Palpatine of Naboo, and the Naberrie family.
Panaka informs Queen Amidala that he’s already picked out a handmaiden for her named Tsabin. He selected her because of her age, her similar physical appearance to Padmé, and skills. Padmé and Tsabin get along well but decide they should get more handmaidens in case one of them has to pose as Padmé. They give this mission to Panaka.
Queen Amidala attends her coronation and decides her first order of business will be to reach out to other planets in Naboo’s sector, the Chommel sector, since previous policy was to stick to themselves. Meanwhile, after two weeks Panaka feels he has four great candidates for handmaiden: Rabene Tonsort, Eirtama Ballory, Suyan Higin, and Sashah Adova. Everyone meets, and it seems that the crew gets along relatively well. Rabene suggests changing their names to match Padmé’s. So, now the handmaidens are called Rabé, Eirtaé, Yané, Saché, and Sabé. Padmé wants to organize a conference for everyone in the Chommel sector. Unbeknownst to her, however, there is a taxation bill in the Galactic Senate that Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn is skeptical of and makes Obi-Wan Kenobi review it with him. Chancellor Vallorum is also skeptical but trusts Senator Palpatine.
Padmé goes ahead with the conference and tells Senator Palpatine about it. He goes behind her back, turning on the Sith Lord persona, telling the Trade Federation that now would be the time to act. The conference goes smoothly at first, even though only a few worlds sent representatives. Sabé has a crush on one of the delegates, Harli Jafan, and they make plans to sneak out to go to the Neurotransmitter Affection concert at the Theed Odeon. Everyone except Saché goes to the concert, using the ascension cables seen in The Phantom Menace to sneek out. They have a good time, although Padmé’s hands get stained with glitter-lits. They have to leave early when Panaka discovers their disappearance.
Sabé has to stand in as Queen to hide Padmé’s stained glitter hands. Harli assumes Padmé is Sabé, so Padmé plays along. But she didn’t know that the two had a crush on each other, leading Harli to send Sabé a mean message. This causes quite a bit of tension between Padmé and Sabé.
When the representatives from elsewhere in the Chommel sector were leaving, suddenly the scanners detected something strange in the space above Naboo. Everyone including Padmé, the handmaidens, Pakana, and Sio Bibble have a meeting in the throne room of Theed Palace. During the meeting, a hologram of the Trade Federation’s Nute Gunray threatens Queen Amidala to sign a treaty with them. After their conversation, Amidala ensures that she is the only person on the planet able to sign the treaty. She gives Sio Bibble a mission to look through the treaty, and then contacts Senator Palpatine to catch him up. Panaka announces things are much more grim than originally anticipated: the Trade Federation has blockaded Naboo.
Padmé initially figures out how to defend Naboo, all while trying to make amends with Sabé. After one week of the blockade, a shipment of food was not allowed into Naboo space, causing a crisis. Naboo only has enough food for the whole planet for one week. So, she institutes food rationing, and Padmé hopes the ambassadors that Senator Palpatine sent can help the ensuing crisis as they should arrive the following day.
Queen Amidala waits for the ambassadors, but they are very late. She contacts Nute Gunray about the ambassadors, but she thinks something is off. So, she contacts Senator Palpatine, but the communication is cut off, which makes Sio Bibble worried that they will be invaded soon.
The Trade Federation starts making planetfall, and Padmé and Sabé swap roles as Amidala for Padmé’s safety. The ambassadors save Amidala and the handmaidens from Trade Federation capture. Since there isn’t space enough for every handmaiden, Yané and Saché stay on Naboo with Sio Bibble while Amidala and the rest of the handmaidens go with the Jedi.
Sio Bibble is taken by the Trade Federation, and Saché and Yané are sent to Camp 4 where they meet up with Mariek Panaka, Captain Panaka’s wife and part of the Royal Naboo Security Forces, Seargent Tonra, also part of the Royal Naboo Security Forces, and other forces from the Royal Naboo Security Forces. Mariek makes a plan while Saché and Yané work on an alternate form of communication.
On Tatooine, Padmé wants to go with Qui-Gon Jinn to find a hyperdrive. She is still in her handmaiden outfit, and is thinking Qui-Gon is onto their ruse with the disguises.
Back in the camp, Saché is taken by droids. When she sees Bibble, she says to say the word “toll” when talking to the queen. As it turns out, this is a keyword the handmaidens have for when there is trouble. When returning to the camp, everyone is impressed with Saché, and Saché and Yané tell each other that they have feelings for each other.
The book ends on Tatooine the night before the Boonta Eve classic, with Padmé feeling guilty about caring for Tatooine’s fate while her planet was suffering too.
Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston was released on March fifth, 2019. It is the first book in the “Queen’s” trilogy and takes place four years after Queen’s Peril.
The beginning of this book also starts with an election, but not for Padmé: rather, this election is selecting her successor. Padmé, Panaka, and the handmaidens are at Varykino, which is the home in the Lake Country.
There is some obvious tension between Padmé and Panaka about an ion weapon that Naboo now has in place to protect themselves. To make things worse, Palpatine makes an impromptu visit to Varykino, leaving her and the handmaidens rushing to get her ready. Handmaiden Rabé notices that Palpatine is worried based on his body language.
Meanwhile, Padmé talks about wanting to go free slaves on Tatooine, and it’s obvious she was majorly impacted by her time with Anakin and Shmi. Sabé offers her help and loyalty.
Tonra, a sergeant in the Naboo Royal Security Forces, brings results of the election to Varykino, where it is revealed Saché has been elected to the legislative assembly and that Réillata is now the new Queen. This means that everyone needs to figure out what they are going to do going forward.
Rabé is going to study music, Yané decides to run an orphanage, and Eirtaé is going to study in Otoh Gunga. As for Padmé, it turns out Queen Réillata will have a lot to do with her future.
She asks Padmé to join the Senate to replace Senator Oshadam, who is leaving the Senate. Padmé is hesitant at first, but after discussing with her handmaidens she accepts. Sabé tells Padmé that she will go to Tatooine to do the work freeing slaves she feels so passionate about.
Captain Quarsh Panaka retires, but his wife Mariek, now Captain, takes over as Padmé’s guard along with her nephew Typho. Tonra will guard Sabé on Tatooine. So, their fates are settled, but Padmé still needs help. This is where the new handmaidens come in.
Padmé gets two suggestions: a niece of Mariek’s named Versaat, and Cordyn, who is someone Rabé knows and thinks looks like Padmé. Before Padmé heads off to the Senate, she ensures to contact her parents to seek their approval and some wisdom.
Padmé has 6 weeks at the Senate to get used to her new position. During this time she familiarizes herself with Dormé, Cordé, and Versé. Rather than being excited about her future in the Senate, she feels discouraged by how long the process is to get anything done. If anything, she’s skeptical of what her role is going to look like.
Just when things couldn’t feel more unsettled, an assasination attempt is made against Padmé, under the guise of her and her group taking a tour of the whole Senate, but they find themselves in a section ready to be demolished.
In the wake of this attack, many people in the Senate try to tarnish her reputation and cause distrust against her. The reason? People believed she wrongly used her authority to call for Chancellor Valorum’s removal, which instated Naboo native Sheev Palpatine, who then was able to aid Naboo.
So, Padmé decides she needs to make some friends in the Senate, and she finds fast ones in Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, as well as Mina Bonteri and Rush Clovis. These alliances leads to a mission to the planet Bromlarch with Mina and Rush. Bromlarch was seeking the Senate’s aid after an earthquake of massive proportions. So, they go to assess what they can do to help.
Meanwhile, Sabé is also having a difficult time in her job on Tatooine. She and Tonra are trying to find Shmi Skywalker, but are unable to find her. Like Padmé, Sabé is also discouraged by the fact that no matter how many slaves are freed, they seem to be replaced faster than they can help. During the mission, Tonra and Sabé form a strong relationship, while also still working well together in a professional sense.
Back in the senate, the bill to assist Bromlarch doesn’t pass, forcing Padmé to get a little creative. She formulates a trade deal that ensures Bromlarch gets assistance, while also providing protection to trade ships in that region, where pirating had been causing quite the disturbance. Her new bill passes, and Padmé finally feels like she accomplished something worth while.
While that’s how the main story ends, we are left with an epilogue, one that is both shocking and disturbing. The location of the epilogue is Padmé’s funeral. Sabé is incredibly distraught by everything that happened. She finds some of Padmé’s ideas she wanted to work on in the future, and ways she wanted to make the galaxy better. Sabé commits to doing as much as she can to help realize Padmé’s goals, and she vows to learn what happened to her.
Padmé is adjusting to being a wartime senator during the Clone Wars. Her secret husband, Anakin Skwyalker, is off fighting the war, and excels at being a wartime Jedi. In contrast, when Padmé gets the opportunity to see the casualties on the war-torn front lines, she is horrified. The stakes have never been higher for the galaxy, or for the newly-married couple.
Meanwhile, with Padmé on a secret mission, her handmaiden Sabé steps into the role of Senator Amidala, something no handmaiden has done for an extended period of time. While in the Senate, Sabé is equally horrified by the machinations that happen there. She comes face to face with a gut-wrenching decision as she realizes that she cannot fight a war this way, not even for Padmé.
And Chancellor Palpatine hovers over it all, manipulating the players to his own ends…
Queen's Hope releases on April 5th and is available for pre-order now!