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Star Wars: An Overview of The Rebel Princess and the Shadow Queen

Princess Leia, set against the background of a red dawn skyline, raises a white hood over her head

Star Wars: Leia: Princess of Alderaan

By Claudia Grey
Disney Lucasfilm Press
September 1, 2017


Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow

By E.Okay. Johnston
Disney Lucasfilm Press
March 5, 2019

With the current launch of the Episode IX trailer, which teases the return of Emperor Palpatine, my earlier choice to learn each Star Wars: Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Grey and Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow by E.Okay. Johnston couldn’t have been extra well timed. Specializing in Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan and Padmé Naberrie, previously Queen Amidala of Naboo, each authors write about pivotal moments in these ladies’s lives that each formed them and the galactic rebellions by which they every play instrumental roles. In contrast to nearly all of the expanded universe books I’ve learn, these two differ significantly, largely as a result of they’re targeted virtually totally on the political facet of a revolt. However in coping with these politics, the books additionally revealed some fascinating features of the manipulations of Palpatine.

I loved each books for the chance to study extra about these two ladies, however I additionally loved the degrees of political intrigue they revealed. Greater than ever, I discover myself unsurprisingly demanding a younger Leia espionage film. However what’s a shocking results of studying these two books is that, for the primary time since their launch, I truly need to watch the prequels once more. As a result of, for all their flaws—oh, so many flaws—I’m, in my maturity, slightly bit extra appreciative of George Lucas’ try and introduce that essential idea to the Star Wars universe: politics. Together with faith, which we’ve got represented by the Jedi, you’ve acquired every thing you should form a correct conflict. And since we’re coping with issues on a galactic scale, the Star Wars universe will stay simply that, ceaselessly.

In Leia’s story, she has simply turned 16 and faces her Day of Demand, the place she should tackle trials of the guts, thoughts, and physique to show herself a worthy successor to Queen Breha Organa. Although Alderaan is a planet that promotes peace, the ceremony harkens again to days when its rule was bloodier. Although they’re younger, Leia and the opposite members of the Apprentice Legislature nonetheless should show themselves robust in robust conditions, together with bodily trials that each one know virtually value Breha her life when she first endured them. As such, there are a number of moments of intense bodily motion and overcoming harmful terrains, although Leia quickly learns that the higher hazard comes from her ignorance over what it’s her mother and father are actually as much as. And her mother and father, for his or her half, study that leaving Leia in ignorance in hopes of defending her might put her in simply as a lot hazard.

As a headstrong 16-year-old woman, a lot of the story circles round her pure management, her ethical standing, and her want to do what’s proper. However in interacting with the others her age, Leia additionally comes to comprehend that politics is all there’s to her life … and she or he initially balks at this. However we as readers know that, someplace between Leia: Princess of Alderaan and the occasions main as much as her post-Rogue One escape and seize, Leia hardens into the badass insurgent princess turned basic that we’ve grown to like and respect.

After having fun with this temporary glimpse into Leia’s childhood, I used to be wanting to study extra concerning the lifetime of a younger Padmé. Following the thwarted siege of Naboo in The Phantom Menace, Padmé’s time period as queen has come to an finish. Like Leia, Padmé is initially decided to determine who she is outdoors of politics. However quickly she is requested by the brand new queen to tackle the position of a senator, since Naboo’s earlier senatorial consultant has moved on to grow to be the chancellor. Like Leia once more, Padmé shortly realizes that politics and serving to others really is her life.

Queen’s Shadow additionally provides us extra of the intimate relationship Padmé shares together with her handmaidens. This choose group of girls have been hand-picked not merely to be her entourage, however to be her eyes, her ears, and her defend out on the earth. Each one in every of them would give her life for her, and Padmé lives with the ache of that information, extra so once they select to face by her even after she is not queen, notably Sabé, her closest good friend and probably the most expert of her handmaidens.

Of all of the Star Wars tales starring brunettes, Padmé is probably the one most onerous carried out by due to the failures of the movies she represents.

Not everybody goes to take the time to study extra about her and her actions in the course of the Clone Wars via auxiliary supplies just like the cartoon. To many Star Wars followers, Leia stays a figurehead in fancy clothes. However that is the place Johnston excels. At a guide tour for The Afterward earlier this yr, Johnston defined that she loves weaponizing the points of femininity that some think about weak spot, most notably style.

In The Afterward, a knight should study from her handmaiden that courtly apparel serves as a special sort of armour than the one she is used to. In Queen’s Shadow, the handmaidens aren’t simply the individuals liable for dressing Padme; they’re a part of the flowery deception performed out by the monarchs of Naboo. Johnston takes meticulous care in describing the intricacies of outfits that may shield from weapons and hearth, permit for fast getaways, or function a distraction. Johnston additionally goes into nice element concerning the make-up and coaching that permits Padmé and her handmaidens to seamlessly change roles.

Padmé reveals herself to be the true queen, stepping out in front of Sabé, who is dressed as Amidala

“I’m Amidala.”

Each Grey and Johnston shine at shaping the intricate particulars of their primary characters and plots, however it’s their talent at overshadowing with out being overbearing that impresses me most. There’s little that happens within the Leia story that doesn’t always fill me with dread, having lived together with her residence planet’s destiny for nearly my complete life. Poignant moments reminiscent of a heart-to-heart between mom and daughter the place Breha guarantees that, “Your property will all the time be right here,” ship me into spirals of lamentations; Alderaan will ceaselessly be too quickly.

Padmé’s story doesn’t swing fairly so near her destiny, however there are nonetheless moments that catch. She has her personal heart-to-heart second together with her beloved handmaiden and pal Sabé, the place they converse of their futures and the thought of probably discovering love and elevating a household. This too sends me into spirals of lamentations as a result of, oh, honey, not Anakin. No child, not him.

I’m very grateful that Queen’s Shadow is located earlier than the awkward and disturbing Anakin romance. The ebook doesn’t concentrate on romance in any respect for Padmé, aside from the dialog talked about above. Think about that. A narrative starring a lady that doesn’t require a male love curiosity to gasoline her hearth! Padmé’s friendships are much more essential relationships to dwell on, and Johnston does each second justice. That’s to not say that there’s no romance in any respect. It simply isn’t centred on Padmé.

Leia’s story does contain romance, however since I already learn Misplaced Stars, I trusted Grey to deal with teen and YA romances nicely and use them to assist form moderately than overtake the protagonist’s function. Kier Domadi catches Leia’s consideration as a result of he’s a fellow Alderaanian who appears to respect her position as princess and share her beliefs, particularly when she discovers the reality about her mother and father’ plotting. He additionally helps her faucet into her human aspect and discover life outdoors of politics, even for just some stolen moments. However finally, he additionally teaches her an important and harsh lesson about individuals’s commitments, causes for doing the suitable factor, and the utilization of 1’s energy and privilege to assist others.

Johnston’s plot touches on a grievance concerning the prequels that I as soon as noticed in passing on Twitter. The grievance theorized that the best plot gap within the prequels was that Padmé failed to make use of her affect to rescue Shmi Skywalker from slavery, thereby stopping the slaughter that tipped Anakin to the darkish aspect. Tamping down my very own rage on the idea of Anakin’s flip being all Padmé’s fault, I respect that Shmi Skywalker, and slavery basically, performed a task in her story. It’s a part of the various political paths, manipulations, roadblocks, and misunderstandings she and her handmaidens should navigate, and exhibits the truth that not every little thing works the best way one may like when another person is pulling a lot bigger strings.

Grey’s plot additionally introduces Amilyn Holdo who, like Leia—and each different teenager—is struggling to outline herself. This Holdo is vastly totally different from the vice admiral who smacks down an insubordinate flyboy and takes the Supremacy head on. This Holdo is extra just like the Luna Lovegood of Star Wars, showing in a myriad of colors and artful equipment to go together with her whimsical hair. In contrast to Leia, although, Amilyn doesn’t instantly command consideration and respect. However Grey together with her delicate method exhibits us that Amilyn is an admirable strategist who thinks outdoors the field and, when mandatory, outdoors of guidelines, making it clear that her future popularity could be very a lot earned by way of confirmed actions and outcomes.

Different essential figures featured in each books are the Organas and Mon Mothma. Breha Organa performs a bigger position in Leia’s story, however she does seem in Padmé’s story after inviting her for a go to to Alderaan. Although her look is temporary, the importance of Padmé’s dialog with the queen of Alderaan can’t be missed.

However as I stated, it’s Tarkin and Palpatine’s machinations that intrigued me probably the most, as a result of dramatic irony signifies that we all know what they’re as much as and the place their machinations take them. However getting these temporary glimpses into the intricate particulars surrounding their political plotting, the connections they’ve, the strings they pull, and all of the dealings happening on the aspect to construct the Empire made for an unimaginable expertise. There’s a Tarkin ebook on the market, and Thrawn’s books contact on this as nicely, so now that Palpatine is making his superb comeback I’d have to do a bit extra studying.