Last week, we were finally treated to the final installment in E. K. Johnston's Padmé trilogy, Queen's Hope. It was amazing. We got to see those very early beginnings of the Clone Wars right after Attack of the Clones, which was cool, as well as really put ourselves in the shoes of Padmé after her marriage to Anakin was fresh. I really liked getting to see in her head the way that only books can really provide, as well as catching up with her and other characters from the previous two books.
Spoilers ahead for Queen's Hope by E. K. Johnston!
Immediately following Attack of the Clones isn't something I can say we get to see a lot, even The Clone Wars has a very small time jump. We start this book right before Padmé and Anakin's wedding, and then follow them as everyone finds their footing and learns what it means to live in a galaxy at war. I loved getting pulled into all of the political parts of it as well, because we normally see the stuff with more action. We saw how people still aren't used to the clone troopers or the Jedi fighting. It does make it a little sadder that later, like in The Clone Wars or Revenge of the Sith, everyone sees these things as so normal.
Padmé and Anakin's relationship is interesting here (well, it always is I guess). Throughout most of the book they don't have that many scenes together, but their relationship is a constant point in the story. Padmé finds her priorities are shifting, and it's changing her outlook and the way she's living her life (for example, moving where her handmaidens sleep so they're further apart and Anakin can visit her at night). I really love how we see the ways that Padmé gets pulled into the romance and justifies things to herself. I think that the trainwreck that is this marriage is really fascinating, and I think that this book explores it so, so well. It's said earlier in the trilogy that when Padmé falls for someone it will be a disaster, and I think that this book really shows us why.
Sabé was the real highlight of this book for me, because she really gets to grow here in a way that she doesn't in the previous two. Sabé finds that she really loves the "smaller" work that she does freeing slaves on Tatooine compared to the big picture stuff that Padmé is doing, but when Padmé calls her to once again be a body double for Senator Amidala for a little while so Padmé can go on an excursion to a faraway planet, Sabé complies, though more reluctantly than she had before. It's while being Senator Amidala that Sabé realizes that she and Padmé have grown far apart and that Senator Amidala is much harder for her to be than Queen Amidala. She also discovers that Padmé and Anakin got married when Anakin tries to visit Padmé one night, ending up in surprise for both of them. When Padmé returns at the end of the book, she and Sabé have a heart to heart. I think this conversation is the best part of the entire book. It's completely heartbreaking and sad, yet I was really proud of Sabé. She shows that she still loves and is dedicated to Padmé, but she's ready to break out of the shadow of Amidala and really be herself, doing her own work back on Tatooine. She asks Padmé not to ask her to stay, and Padmé respects that. It's a really beautiful scene, and I think is one that's really pivotal for both of their characters, but especially for Sabé.
I would highly, highly recommend this trilogy to anyone. It's such a great set of stories to read, and I think is definitely a must for anyone who likes Padmé. I can't wait to see what E. K. Johnston's next Star Wars book is, because everything she's put out this far has been amazing.