Happy Saturday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for QUEEN’S HOPE by EK Johnston! I’m so excited to share an excerpt of the book with you today, AND more information about the author and tour, PLUS you can enter the giveaway to win a print copy!Queen's Hope by E.K. Johnston
Published on April 5, 2022 by Disney Lucasfilm Press
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, YA
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Author Links: Website, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, Tumblr, TikTok
Padmé is adjusting to being a wartime senator during the Clone Wars. Her secret husband, Anakin Skywalker, is off fighting the war, and excels at being a wartime Jedi. In contrast, when Padmé gets the opportunity to see the casualties on the war-torn front lines, she is horrified. The stakes have never been higher for the galaxy, or for the newly-married couple.
Meanwhile, with Padmé on a secret mission, her handmaiden Sabé steps into the role of Senator Amidala, something no handmaiden has done for an extended period of time. While in the Senate, Sabé is equally horrified by the machinations that happen there. She comes face to face with a gut-wrenching decision as she realizes that she cannot fight a war this way, not even for Padmé.
And Chancellor Palpatine hovers over it all, manipulating the players to his own ends…
Sabé took her empty plate and Tonra’s and went into the kitchen to wash them. Before, a call from Padmé would have sent her running for the holoprojector, eager to hear what her friend wanted her to do. But something had changed. After Geonosis, Padmé had been uncharacteristically reticent, hiding everything even from Sabé. She’d disappeared to the lake house on Naboo and hadn’t contacted anyone for weeks. And yes, Sabé herself wasn’t always easy to track down, but Padmé was a senator. If it was important, she found a way. And now she needed Sabé again, and Sabé was alarmed to find she was a little bit resentful. What was happening to them?
When everything was clean, she went to the holoprojector and turned it on. She had no idea what time it was on Coruscant, and she wasn’t sure how long she’d have to wait for Padmé to pick up, but someone would be on the other end of the line, and they’d tell her what to expect.
“Sabé!” To her surprise, Padmé’s face appeared in front of her almost immediately. The senator looked good, clearly having recovered from whatever happened to her in the droid foundry, and her tone was normal. “Oh, I’m so glad to see you. I’ve missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you, too,” Sabé said. And it was true. Missing Padmé was like missing the sun, and she was currently on a planet with two of them.
“How is Tatooine?” Padmé asked.
“Hot, dry, and dusty,” Sabé told her. “But we’re making real progress. The locals, the ones I care about, are starting to trust us. We’ve already made a few offworld runs for them.”
“That’s good.” Padmé bit her lip. She was definitely going to ask Sabé to leave the planet.
“Tonra suggested that it fits our cover if I disappear on a longer mission,” Sabé said. Padmé’s relief was immediate. “He’ll keep the ship, but I can make it to Coruscant from the transport hub here. When we’re done, I can return.”
“I’ll send Captain Mariek for you,” Padmé offered, happy to make everything as easy as she could. “That will make your traveling a bit easier, and I won’t worry about you the whole time.”
“What do you need me to do?” Sabé asked. She leaned back in her chair, almost relaxed at how familiar this was.
“This one’s complicated,” Padmé said. “There’s a mission my faction in the Senate is running, and it has to be me who goes. Only, I can’t disappear from the Senate, because people will notice. I need you to come to Coruscant and be Senator Amidala.”
All thoughts of relaxation fled. Senator Amidala was so different. There was no makeup to hide behind, no bulky dresses to use as a physical barrier. This wouldn’t be a normal switch. She’d have to mimic Padmé on the floor of the Galactic Senate.
“Who knows?” Sabé asked.
“Senator Organa,” Padmé said. It wasn’t a surprise. He had seen through their disguise early on but had never told anyone about it. Sabé rather liked him. “And Mon Mothma.”
That was a very short list, and the Chancellor wasn’t on it. “This is going to be challenging,” Sabé said.
“On the bright side, I’ve just brought on two new handmaidens,” Padmé said. Her voice shuddered a bit referring to the tragedy as a bright side. “You can switch out with one of them easily enough to relearn your way around the Senate, and then you and I can switch places for a couple of days before I leave.”
Sabé was already mentally packing her trunk.
“I’ll meet Mariek on the transport hub tomorrow, if she can make it,” she said.
“I’ll make the arrangements,” Padmé told her. She hesitated, then smiled. “I am so glad we’ll get to see each other again for a bit.”
“So am I,” said Sabé. It was the truth. “It’ll be just like old times. I’d better go pack.”
Padmé had been fully intending to tell Sabé the whole story, everything from seeing Anakin again through the time at the Lars homestead and their captivity on Geonosis, including the wedding. But then Sabé had said “just like old times,” and her resolve had crumbled.
Anakin hadn’t been able to see her when he’d returned to Coruscant. He’d only been on the planet long enough to see the Chancellor, and to get his next assignment before he and Obi-Wan shipped out to the front. They hadn’t yet set up a way to communicate surreptitiously, and Padmé had no reason to contact him through official channels. She knew that sort of thing was to be expected; it was why they had traveled separately back from the lake house, but it still stung. She accepted that he would have a job to do, just as she would, but she hadn’t expected reality to throw it all in her face quite so quickly. When she had a moment, she would ask C-3PO if there was a way he could securely link to R2-D2.
This time with Sabé was exactly what she needed. She would use it to find her way forward, balancing the old with the new. It would be like old times. They would learn to be each other’s mirror again, something they hadn’t done in years and had never tried on this scale. They would spend time together and it would be easy and fun, and they would have their work to keep them busy. When they had to separate for Padmé to go on the mission, she would know that Sabé would be waiting for her when she came back.
When Sabé arrived, Padmé greeted her with a smile. She introduced her to Ellé and Moteé, and they all sat down with Dormé, Typho, Mariek, and the other guards for the Naboo-style dinner Padmé had planned to welcome Sabé back. There were brightly colored stuffed peppers and five-blossom bread, and berries from the Lake Country soaked in rum custard. As she watched her friends eat, laughing and talking with one another, Padmé was happy.
She wished Anakin were here. That was the only thing that kept the night from being perfect. She missed him, and not even Sabé could make her feel better. It was strange, to love two people so much, so differently. She didn’t quite understand it, and she wasn’t sure how to make it work.
Someday, she would figure out how to put both halves of her life together. Someday, she would make the political and the personal more cohesive. Someday, she wouldn’t keep them so divided. Someday, Anakin would sit at this table, too. There was a war on, and they were always in danger from that, but there was no reason not to plan for an optimistic future, where every person she had brought into her life was just as happy as everyone else.
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Enter here to win a print copy of Queen’s Hope by E.K. Johnston!
What do you think about Queen’s Hope? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!
I love the excerpt, and the cover.
I love Queen’s Shadow, really looking forward to this!