Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: Palace of Stone

Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale 
Release: August 21, 2012

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she "should "help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city. Picking up where "Princess Academy "left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom.

Palace of Stone took about 40/50 pages to get into, only because it had been a while since I read Princess Academy. Two and a half years, in fact. When I heard that Shannon Hale was coming out with a sequel, a part of me wondered: what for? In my mind, the story had resolved to a satisfying, yet unpredictable end. Why mess with something so good? A part of me didn't want to read it, but intrigue and excitment were inevitable. And regardless of my doubts, I really wanted to read this book.

Hale describes Palace of Stone in one word, and I think it sums up the plot perfectly: Revolution.

You see, the "shoeless" (or poor) are tired of being taken advantage of. They want change. They want to see the Crown's power extinguished. In a series of events, young Miri finds herself torn between her own desire for change and her loyalty to those that she is closest to. The very foundation of the crown and the reputation of the Princess Academy is at stake. The people are not happy with who the Prince picked as his bride. The shoeless want to be heard, above the whisperings of nobility.  They will do anything to do so.

At the core, it is a story about change, loyalty, friendship, and being true to yourself.

I had only a few complains, though. The first, is how quickly and Miri's relatoinship with Frid developed. I didn't like them as a pair, because it seemed seemed forced, as if it was only there to create extra tension. Tension that didn't need to be there. Perhaps it's because I always loved Peder more. *shrugs*  My next complaint is that things seemed to resolve a little...quickly...

Just like that, the sparks of revolution have dissipated?

This IS a MG book, so I suppose I understand the need to keep things short and sweet. A younger audience wouldn't be interested in a long drawn-out struggle between the shoeless and the nobility/royalty.

Overall, though, I really liked Palace of Stone. It is a worthy sequel to Princess Academy, so I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. In my opinion, Palace of Stone isn't "better" than Princess Academy, but it is a necessary follow-up that brings the story full-circle. I hope, one day, Hale will write more about the world of Princess Academy. Until then, though, I truly feel Miri's story is complete.

e-ARC (and physical ARC, won) courtesy of net galley and Bloomsbury. It was provided in exchange for a honest opinion. Thank you.


GIVEAWAY TIME. I am giving away my extra paperback copy of Princess Academy and my physical ARC of Palace of stone. Enter rafflecopter below for a chance to win.

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