BBY/ABY is used to position items along the Star Wars Timeline. BBY refers to Before the Battle of Yavin. ABY refers to After the Battle of Yavin. The Battle of Yavin in Episode IV: A New Hope occured in 0 BBY/ABY.
The Youtini Expanded Universe Ranking system is a 1-5 scale that ranks EU book quality, difficulty, and importance. Books closer to Level 1 are easier to read and understand, more important, and of higher quality.
What does one do after ruling an entire planet? For Padmé Amidala, that answer came easily: move on to even bigger things. However, transitioning from the throne on Naboo to a seat in the Galactic Senate is not without challenges, especially at such a young age. Uneasy alliances, ruthless media, and hidden agendas not only leave her wondering how she can possibly hope to instate positive change in the galaxy, but also how she can survive long enough to do it.
EK Johnston’s story bridges the gap between the Padmé fans see in The Phantom Menace and the one they see in Attack of the Clones. It largely expounds upon Naboo culture, including the fashion, government, and the role of the handmaidens.
Written by the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Ahsoka! When Padmé Naberrie, "Queen Amidala" of Naboo, steps down from her position, she is asked by the newly-elected queen to become Naboo's representative in the Galactic Senate. Padmé is unsure about taking on the new role, but cannot turn down the request to serve her people. Together with her most loyal handmaidens, Padmé must figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of politics and forge a new identity beyond the queen's shadow.
Queen's Shadow was one of my least favorite Star Wars books of all time. That wasn't the case because the idea for the story was bad, but because it wasn't well-executed. The story felt disjointed and seemed to get stuck focusing on minutiae for large periods of time (such as the Queen's wardrobe). Ultimately, even the parts of the story that were moderately interesting never really quite amounted to...well, anything. There are some redeeming qualities of this book, such as how Johnston doesn't shy away from some of the more maligned aspects of the prequel trilogy, but actually highlights and manages to elevate them. However, in hindsight, I would have happily skipped this book and settled on just reading the Wookiepeedia entry.
Queen's Shadow introduced me to a world that I didn't know I had been wanting for years. I loved the way that Johnston handled Padmé's evolution from Queen to Senator, and more than a lot of other novels, this story really brought us inside her head to experience her growth right alongside her. Whenever I go back to the prequels, there's no way that I won't look at the handmaidens with a renewed sense of respect and purpose, and I desperately hope we get more stories that are hinted at near the end!
Queen's Shadow does not do any justice to E.K. Johnston's talents. Many parts of this book opened up for some sort of potential, only to be cut short. 90% of the book is about choosing outfits, and nothing significant really happens until the very end and even then those parts aren't very substantial. If you're going to read it, it's better to think of it as "The Phantom Menace: Deleted Scenes" and listen to the audiobook so you can witness Catherine Taber trying her hand at Palpatine's voice.
One thing that has always frustrated me about the prequels is that they never allowed enough time to develop the films' main characters enough to heighten the emotional impacts of their falls. Padmé has always been one of my favorite characters, but I've never thought she got the meaningful screen time she deserved. E.K. Johnston's portrayal of her character in Queen's Shadow -- including the shock wave that ran through her friends and loved ones upon her death -- was exactly what I've always wanted. While the book itself struggled to deliver in many areas, as a love letter to Padmé fans, it's a wonderful read.