With Queen's Hope just a day away, there's no better time to re-read Queen's Peril! The prequel to Queen's Shadow shows Padmé taking on the role of queen and forging the early bond with her handmaidens, and we see both her and her handmaidens tested through the events of The Phantom Menace. It's a really, really great book, and one of my favorites, so I was super excited to re-read and share my thoughts on this book.
Spoilers ahead for Queen's Peril by E. K. Johnston!
Padmé is explored very well in this book, and it's really great to read. I loved reading about how she transitions into the role of queen of Naboo. She takes on a new persona, but still finds ways to insert herself and her own personality and beliefs into the position. I think this book makes Padmé so, so relatable, and this book (along with the rest of the trilogy) really make me enjoy her character so much more than I already did. I also enjoyed seeing how she first formed bonds with her handmaidens and how they came to be such an inseparable group.
The handmaidens are definitely the highlight of this book for me. This book provides so much context for little things they do and say in The Phantom Menace. We learn how each of the girls has her own background and brings her own skills and abilities to make them a cohesive, strong team. I loved learning about how they work together to create an "Amidala" voice, use make-up to try and make their faces look as similar as possible, create Padmé's outfits to intentionally distract from her face (and for her to easily be able to shed it or hide things in it). Seeing them both be these hyper-competent young women with these incredible skills and traits while also being regular teenage girls and doing things like sneaking out to go to a concert was really fun, and this kind of character exploration is something I really appreciate.
Something else that is so, so cool about this book is how it fleshes out The Phantom Menace. Not only through giving us more info about the backgrounds of Padmé and her handmaidens and reasons for things we see on Naboo, but also by putting us in the heads of characters for scenes we don't see in the movie. We get to see what the occupation of Naboo was like for the handmaidens who stayed behind, and how the people of Naboo resisted. We get to see exactly what Sabé and Padmé are thinking after certain scenes in the book, like when they meet Boss Nass. Little moments like the ones we get really fill in the story of The Phantom Menace and make it so, so much better. I like that the book doesn't spend time explaining the movie to us (I'd be surprised if anyone would read Queen's Peril without having seen The Phantom Menace at least once), instead just jumping through scenes throughout the movie to fill in the gaps that it leaves, giving just enough information to help jog your memory of where exactly in the movie you are. It's a great way to handle it, and I really, really loved reading through the parts of The Phantom Menace that you miss with just the movie.