Queen’s Hope by E.K. Johnston is the breakup story Star Wars fans deserve

Queen's Hope book cover. Photo: Disney Books.
Queen's Hope book cover. Photo: Disney Books. /

The final book in E.K. Johnston’s “Padmé Trilogy,” Queen’s Hope, released this Tuesday, and with it Johnston broke our hearts once again.

As with Queen’s Shadow and Queen’s Peril, the plot of Queen’s Hope is driven by the emotional development of its varying cast of characters. This time around, we had chapters from the POV of Padmé, Sabé, Palpatine, and even Beru Whitesun. Johnston spoke with Collider earlier this week before the book’s release about what motivated her and how she went about writing a farewell for her time with these characters. Beware of spoilers!

At its heart, Queen’s Hope is a breakup story. Throughout the narrative thus far, we’ve learned just how far Sabé is willing to go to please her friend Padmé. Sabé, played by Kiera Knightley in The Phantom Menace, was the first handmaiden recruited to serve Amidala.

When we last saw Sabé in Queen’s Shadow, she was at work freeing slaves on Anakin Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine. In Queen’s Hope, we see her continue that work – until called upon by Senator Amidala for a favor.

Her willingness to drop everything for her former queen, despite her romantic relationship with Tonra and goals of her own is not surprising in the slightest. Sabé takes the place of Amidala while Padmé leaves on a diplomatic mission, during which Sabé discovers the truth behind Padmé’s relationship with Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker; they were married in secret.

Attack of the Clones
Natalie Portman as Padme and Hayden Christensen as Anakin in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002). Photo: StarWars.com. /

Sabé is bothered by this revelation, and rightfully so. Padmé is a prominent senator, and in a relationship with someone forbidden from emotional connections. But it goes deeper than that, the connection between Padmé and Sabé is much more complicated than a lopsided friendship where one serves the other blindly. While it is never outright stated, it is heavily implied that the feelings Sabé has for Padmé are romantic.

E.K. Johnston said of the handmaidens in her interview with Collider that she “gave each of them something to want, but not have,” for me, that all but confirms Sabé’s unrequited romantic feelings for her friend.

By the end of the novel, all of the story threads are tied up in what we’re led to believe will be a happy ending. Or maybe I was just naive and hoping against a bittersweet break for our main characters.

Either way, the final pages of Queen’s Hope were sad in a beautiful way. Sabé tells Padmé that while she will always care for her, she cannot keep serving her in the way Padmé needs her to. In what may very well be their last interaction before Revenge of the Sith, Sabé steps out of the queen’s shadow and becomes her own woman once again. She vows to live for herself, choosing to set off with Tonra to Tatooine to continue their slavery liberation efforts.

Sabé is such a compelling character, and her devotion to Padmé is central to who she is. Her “breakup” from her former queen was just what the character needed to keep her story afloat. While this trilogy may have ended, Sabé’s story has just started.

E.K. Johnston’s strongest writing comes in the form of character development, and that is exactly what Queen’s Hope is for Padmé and Sabé. While the “Padmé Trilogy” is, of course, Padmé’s trilogy, in all the best ways it is also Sabé’s trilogy.

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