A former queen plays politics to guide the galaxy’s future in this Star Wars novel.
After four years as Naboo’s Queen Amidala, Padmé Amidala Naberrie retires…to become a senator of the galactic Republic. Accompanied by new handmaidens—bodyguards/body doubles—to Coruscant, she tries to fight slavery (and find young Anakin Skywalker), avoid assassination, restore her public image, and retain her idealism. Tasked with reviving a main character from the often critically and popularly reviled prequels, Johnston (That Inevitable Victorian Thing, 2017, etc.) explores the diverse settings, delights in the alien cultures, and even expands the romantic possibilities to include same-sex relationships. Padmé and her handmaidens are assumed white; other humanoids' races are only noted when not white. The various species of Star Wars appear here but only as background characters. Readers without encyclopedic Star Wars knowledge receive name-dropping and cross-referencing rather than character development, while critics of Episodes I through III may still reject this interlude’s earnest explanations for the cinematic sources’ flaws, which are reproduced here—too much politicking, not enough passion. Padmé is a potent symbol but remains a flat character, restricted by her political role, her ornate, excessively described costuming, and her circumscribed cinematic fate. Sabé, her former but steadfast handmaid, has more depth but regrettably fewer chapters.
Less a bold rebellion, more a boring bureaucracy, albeit with a strong, doomed female protagonist. (Science fiction. 12-18)