Page Count: Hardcover, 352 pages
Author: E.K. Johnston
Timeline: Follows Master & Apprentice and precedes The Phantom Menace
Main Characters: Padmé Amidala, Sabé, and other handmaidens
Brief Synopsis: As the newly elected queen, Padmé Amidala faces political problems due to new proposed taxing bills with a threat of impending war.
Before getting into any part of this review, I want to point out that I read an early release version of Queen’s Peril. So, this version will not be exactly the same as the most complete copy. However, it should not vary in any significant way.
Personally, I was not a huge fan of Queen’s Shadow. If you read my review of it, this is pretty apparent. Admittedly, I may have been a little too harsh towards it in my scoring, but it is still one of my least favorite Star Wars books. That being said, I was still very excited to read Queen’s Peril. Padmé is one of my favorite characters, I love content from before the Skywalker Saga, and the Prequels are my favorite trilogy, so I figured I would enjoy this book. However, this book was pretty different in the first and second halves. I really enjoyed the first and didn’t care as much for the second. There were certainly things I liked about it, I just felt that it had potential to be a lot better. Let’s get into the details.
Characters were by far the strongest point of this novel; it was certainly character driven. E.K. Jonhston really does great things for the female characters in Star Wars. Specifically, Padmé and her handmaidens. Queen’s Peril felt a lot like an origin story for both. In The Phantom Menace and Queen’s Shadow, we see Padmé already as an established queen and then transitioning into a senator. But in this book, we have to see her establish herself as Queen Amidala. By doing so, we see a new side of Padmé, and it provides more depth to her character. We also get to see where Padmé attaints the strengths to her character: that was a nice touch. However, I was most impressed with the work Johnston did with the handmaidens. Each one was unique from one another, had their own back stories, and were all relatable in their own ways. While Johnston also did this in Queen’s Shadow, I felt that the development of the characters was done better in this book. A truly strong point for the novel.
But the character development did not stop there. Several other characters also received development that are important to The Phantom Menace. Most notably, Captain Quarsh Panaka and Mariek Panaka also had significant development. These characters are important in the first movie, so it was good to learn more about them. Darth Maul was another who got some development, but it felt the most out of place in the story. By doing a sidebar to get a glimpse into Darth Maul, I think it had more potential to learn about him. But what Johnston included was still good. So, characters were a strength and I am awarding 19 points.
Score: 19/20 pts
As with all Star Wars books, Queen’s Peril was well written. E.K. Johnston is a New York Times Bestselling Author, so I didn’t expect anything less. The style of the book was written for a slightly younger audience, but it still came out as readable for the young adult and adult crowd. It was a little lacking in details (especially when compared with Queen’s Shadow), but not so much that the depth of the story was lacking. This made the book easy to read. Johnston’s flow was very good. Reading was effortless. Another strength to the novel, I’m giving 18.5 points for the writing.
Score: 18.5/20 pts
Now that we have gotten past the strengths of the novel, it is time to get to the biggest weakness: the plot. As I mentioned before, this book was essentially split into two halves. The first half served as an origin story for Queen Amidala and the handmaidens and the second half coincided with The Phantom Menace. I enjoyed the first half but didn’t care as much for the second. The development stage of the book was very good, and I was excited for where the book was going. However, I was pretty disappointed to find that the book was building up to events that we already know the outcome for. But the perspective that we got was mostly from Padmé and the handmaidens. This gave a different look at The Phantom Menace, but I would have preferred a completely new story. Also, the events within The Phantom Menace moved very quickly. I understand that there should not be as much detail as novelization, but it skipped rapidly through the events where it was somewhat confusing. Also, it skipped past scenes that I would have liked to have seen from the perspective of either Padmé or the handmaidens. For these reasons, I am only giving 16 points for the plot.
Score: 16/20 pts
This is a section where I have to control some of my personal bias. As I mentioned before, I absolutely love the Prequels and The Phantom Menace holds a special place in my heart. So, my intrigue for this novel was naturally higher than normal. But not everyone has those same feelings. This makes the events in the second half of the book to be not as exciting. It is difficult to create intrigue when the story has already been told before. It was from a different perspective, but we still know essentially what is going to happen. This considerably decreased the intrigue for the second half of the story. But the writing style did add to the intrigue, as I was able to read the book without any real effort. But it wasn’t enough to save the score, I am giving 16.5 points for the intrigue.
Score: 16.5/20 pts
What Does It Add?
There wasn’t anything especially significant that Queen’s Peril added to the Star Wars universe. While the purpose of the book wasn’t to supplement Phantom Menace, it sure felt like it. For books like these, they usually don’t have the freedom to add cool new Star Wars lore. But there were still some things that it added. Queen’s Peril added to the character development of the handmaidens, which I deem important because it’s helping to change background characters in The Phantom Menace into meaningful and strong female characters. But this book alone isn’t responsible for that (as Queen’s Shadow also did this) and these characters don’t have a broad impact on the universe. Johnston also introduced Neurotransmitter Affection, a popular music group on Naboo. While this doesn’t have much impact on the universe, it was a cool addition. But just being cool isn’t enough for a strong score, I am giving 16 points.
Score: 16/20 pts
Like most of our favorite Star Wars movies, The Phantom Menace has its fair share of confusing and illogical moments. Queen’s Peril both gives more context to the movie and helps explain some of the movie’s weak points. But there was a great opportunity to explain one of the more confusing points of the Prequels, Maul surviving the fall and being cut in half. It was explained briefly in The Clone Wars but was not detailed. It would have felt a little out of place in this story, but the story did follow Maul a little bit which also felt a little out of place. So, this would not have been completely out of place. But because Queen’s Peril did give more context to other scenes, I am awarding an extra half point.
+ .5 pts
So, my final score for Queen’s Peril is an 86.5/100, or a B. This makes it one of the lower ranked books that I have reviewed. It was disappointing to me for many of the same reasons of Queen’s Shadow. The plot showed a lot of promise and was disappointing in the end. But there were still strong points to the book. Padmé was awesome and the handmaidens were probably even better. This, and if you want more context behind The Phantom Menace, are the main reasons you should decide to read this book. If so, you should enjoy reading Queen’s Peril.
I hope you enjoyed this book review and if there is a book that you want me to read or review, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. As for now, I will only be doing Canon books (but in the future that might change).