his April, E.K. Johnston’s Padmé trilogy will conclude with Queen’s Hope, and Youtini has your first audiobook preview of the first chapter.
In this exclusive audio excerpt (also printed below), we see Padmé struggling with secrets leading up to what should be the happiest day of her life. Though she has prided herself on her ability to remain fiercely independent throughout her career, the secrecy of her upcoming marriage has cast some doubt on her ability to ask for help from those who have always been by her side: her handmaidens.
As she reflects on these questions alongside her family’s history and traditions, this excerpt shows us Padmé's realization of just how strong these bonds of friendship have become over the last two books.
Even if she needs a small nudge from a helpful astromech to remind her.
Check out the audio chapter preview below by Padmé, herself, Catherine Taber, as well as the full written excerpt posted earlier last year over on Gizmodo.
For one of the very few times in her life, Padmé Amidala had no idea what to do. She kept secrets all the time, but this one was different. Usually, the girls she shared her secrets with also helped her keep them. They weren’t just her confidants; they held her web of secrets together. And this time she was alone.
A faint whirring from the corner of the room reminded her this was not entirely true. There were other beings who would keep this secret with her, though not very many. The only problem was that none of them could help her right now. At least, she was pretty sure. It never hurt to ask.
“I don’t suppose you know anything about dressmaking?” she asked the little blue R2 unit.
He turned his dome back and forth, mimicking a humanoid shaking their head, and beeped perhaps more sorrowfully than the situation really called for. Padmé thanked him anyway. There was no reason to be rude.
She returned to the contemplation of the fabric in her lap. There wasn’t enough for a whole new dress, but she hadn’t been expecting that. The cloth had been in her family for several generations, each person given a piece of it to incorporate into their wedding clothes. Her sister, who had chosen not to marry, had used her portion to make clothes for her daughters, showing that she welcomed new additions to the family.
It hurt, a little bit, to be doing this alone. Anakin didn’t understand, but she couldn’t really expect him to. He understood family, of course, and wanting to maintain a tradition. It was clothing he was a bit less familiar with. She appreciated that his compassion led him to give her time and space to work on a solution, though. They were in a bit of a hurry.
R2-D2 chirruped again, and when he had her attention, he projected a holographic image between them. It was familiar art, one of the windows from Theed palace that had been replaced after the Battle of Naboo. This one featured her, when she was queen, surrounded by orange-cloaked handmaidens. The droid’s suggestion was clear.
“I can’t, Artoo,” Padmé told him. It caused her nearly physical pain to say it. “What we’re doing has to be a secret. I can’t bring them into this.”
The projection changed to a holonet image taken during the victory celebrations ten years ago. Queen Amidala stood in white next to the Gungan leader, Boss Nass, surrounded by members of her court. R2-D2 zoomed in on one handmaiden in particular and beeped encouragingly.
“I don’t know, Artoo,” Padmé said. “It doesn’t seem fair to ask for help and not give any details.”
The droid made a sound that somehow managed to replicate a shrug, and the image disappeared.
Padmé considered his suggestion. She wasn’t asking for help as queen or senator this time. That would have been normal and easy. She was asking for help as Padmé, and somehow that made everything messy and complicated. She thought she knew where the boundaries were, but she rarely tested them. She wasn’t very good at asking the girls to help her as a friend. They’d spent too much time at work.
But they were friends. What she shared with her handmaidens, current and former, was a friendship so deep that it included large parts of her heart. She mourned for Cordé and Versé, even as she rejoiced at the successes the others had found beyond her sphere of influence. Surely she, Padmé, could ask for this.
Decision made, she gathered the fabric so as not to trip on it, stood up, and made her way over to the communications console.
Queen’s Hope will release on April 5, 2022 and is available for pre-order now.