Author E.K. Johnston has fleshed out the character of Padmé Amidala more than any other Star Wars storyteller with her young adult novels Queen’s Shadow and Queen’s Peril. And, as if learning more about Luke and Leia’s mother wasn’t enough, the novels gave us some important insight into Padmé’s handmaidens and their role in the greater Skywalker saga, particularly Sabé, the handmaiden (played by Keira Knightly) who served as Queen Amidala’s decoy in The Phantom Menace and who serves as Padmé’s closest friend. Johnston explores the close relationship all of the handmaidens have with Padmé and with each other and their fierce loyalty to protecting one another, which they’re more than capable of.
This November, Johnston completes the trilogy of Padmé novels with Queen’s Hope, a novel that takes place in the midst of the Clone Wars. With Anakin away fighting in the war, Padmé secretly decides to see the front lines of the war for herself. Meanwhile, for the first time ever, Sabé serves as her decoy in the Senate and both women discover the horrors of the war and are forced to make some tough decisions.
An excerpt that explores Padmé’s secrets
An exclusive excerpt of the novel published by Gizmodo gives us our first look at the struggles Padmé wrestles with as a wartime Senator secretly married to a wartime Jedi. In the excerpt, Padmé ponders a difficult secret she has to cope with alone. She reflects on how much she has relied on her handmaidens throughout the years to help her keep a whole web of secrets together to protect her and her place as a governmental leader. But the secret she’s thinking about now, which the novel doesn’t specify, is a secret she can’t let her handmaidens in on, and this fact bothers her, and she turns to an unlikely source for advice: R2-D2.
“I don’t suppose you know anything about dress making?” she asks the droid.
She’s thinking about a piece of fabric she holds in her lap, a tradition in her family. A piece of fabric was passed down to each person in her family to incorporate into their wedding clothes. It seems to serve as a symbol of an expanding family.
She thinks about Anakin and is sad that he’s not around to share this moment with her. Artoo suggests to her, in his way, that she should trust the handmaidens as she’s done in the past, but Padmé is hesitant because the secret she must keep isn’t about her as a queen or as a senator. It’s a personal secret.
In the end, she decides that the handmaidens are her friends. They’ve been through so much together, how could they be anything less? So she gathers up the fabric and heads to her communications console.
What secret is Padmé hiding?
The excerpt leaves plenty to speculate about. What is the secret? What is she planning on making from this fabric? What does it have to do with the overall story of Padmé exploring the front lines of the Clone Wars?
With the timing of the novel being during the Clone Wars and Anakin being away, it seems likely that Padmé is pregnant with Luke and Leia in this novel. The symbolism of the fabric could have something to do with her pregnancy, given that the pregnancy is a secret and it centers on a tradition that she and Anakin would be expected to participate in together. She even thinks to herself that they are “in a bit of a hurry.” The coming birth of her child (she probably doesn’t realize they’re twins) would certainly create a sense of hurry.
Assuming the secret she’s about to share with her handmaidens has something to do with her pregnancy, Queen’s Hope could open up more possibilities about who knew about Luke and Leia, which could affect future stories. We’ve already seen some of the impact of the handmaiden’s role in the larger Skywalker saga in Greg Pak’s Darth Vader comic with Vader and Sabé becoming an unlikely duo in search of the truth behind Padmé’s death.
Queen’s Hope will also give us the opportunity to further explore how Padmé copes with being the secret wife of Anakin Skywalker. What does she think about having his children? What are her hopes for their future together? Can they ever be happy in the public eye?
We’ll have to wait until the full novel is released in November to learn more about Padmé’s secrets.