Star Wars Queen’s Peril

Disney/Lucasfilm Pr. Jun. 2020. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781368057141.
Gr 6-10–This prequel to Johnston’s Queen’s Shadow chronicles Padmé Naberrie’s first year as Queen Amidala of Naboo, including the events from Star Wars 1: The Phantom Menace. Padmé is just 14 when she is elected to the highest position in Naboo’s government. Quarsh Panaka, the brown-skinned head of her security team, recruits five young handmaidens who are all near doppelgängers of the fair-skinned Queen. They are also prodigies that come with an array of artistic achievements and skills, and they master the art of working as a team to act as the Queen’s decoys—an art that comes in handy after the planet is invaded by the ruthless Trade Federation. The story starts out promisingly, with an in-depth exploration of Naboo culture and politics, and a strong focus on the development of Padmé’s close relationship with her loyal handmaidens. However, the story quickly spirals into a rushed recap of the film, relying on readers to fill the gaps in the story. Fans of Queen’s Shadow will be disappointed that much of the backstory remains undramatized. For instance, Panaka’s combat training for the handmaidens is only mentioned in passing. Also, Padmé does not exchange any words with Qui-Gon Jinn, even though the Queen contemplates their interactions during his funeral at the end. However, if readers enjoyed the earlier book, they will most likely be okay with the rushed conclusion of this story.
VERDICT A secondary purchase for teen collections where Star Wars books are popular.

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