Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review: Palace of Stone - Shannon Hale

Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
Series: Princess Academy #2
Genre: YA, adventure
Published on August 21, 2012
Published by Bloomsbury
Read From: 12.28.12 - 12.29.12

When Miri and a few of the girls from Mount Eskel's princess academy travel to the capital to help the princess-to-be get ready for her wedding, they have no idea what to expect. Some are worried about leaving their beloved mountain for the first time, others are thrilled about going to the big city, and Miri is mostly just happy to see her best friend. 
But no everything in Asland is as perfect as the mountain girls hoped. As Miri learns more about her new home, she finds herself deep in the middle of an upheaval that affects everyone she loves. Torn between her loyalty to the princess and her belief in her new friends' daring ideas, and between an old love and a new crush, Miri must test the strengths and skills she gained in the princess academy.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes. Though it has a “character impersonator” on the front, and we can plainly see her face, I love the background. Though I don’t like it nearly as well as the cover for Princess Academy.

Characters: Peder still wasn’t in this one as much as I wanted, but I still got a strong sense of his personality; his loyalty, a fun sense of humor, and diligence. Miri’s strength of character is diminished a little bit, as she struggles with her loyalty to Britta and her desire to see the world change for the less fortunate. Her indecisiveness and frustration, while understandable, made me just a tad frustrated with her, because to me, the solution was a no-brainer. We still don’t get to know Prince Steffan all that well, but the king is easy to dislike, with his single-mindedness and pompous airs. Like in Princess Academy, the other girls kind of blend into one, except those that are important to the plot.

The Romance: I was at first extremely worried about the “decision between an old love and a new crush” element. I liked Peder; I didn’t want him and Miri to be at odds because Miri had found someone else she liked. When Timon entered the story, I was even more concerned about the love triangle, because I did not like Timon. He was too hot-headed, and when he used Miri’s Rhetoric paper to stir up trouble, I decided that I in fact despised him. Thankfully, the love triangle barely makes an appearance in the story. Miri likes Timon, and she struggles between him and Peder (though it’s more the type of life they both represent that she is mostly undecided about), but it doesn’t result in any drawn-out emotional battles between her and Peder. There are a couple of times that I thought she behaved a little immaturely towards Peder, but for the most part, the romantic aspect of the story was no big deal.

Plot: This is what makes it so difficult to compare Palace of Stone to Princess Academy, because while the two are connected, and it is advisable to read the first book before picking this one up, the storyline in Palace of Stone is completely different. And it’s just as good. I thought the plot would be more of Miri’s daily excursions in Asland, or a series of balls and fancy dinners (which I happen to like stories like that). But instead, Palace of Stone focuses heavily on the brewing rebellion among Danland’s populace. Deliberately reminiscent of the French Revolution, the plot was far more engaging and action-packed than I expected.

Believability: Not really applicable, except when it concerns the country’s politics, and that was all perfectly believable.

Writing Style: While Mount Eskel is not the stage for this story, the Author’s style is not diminished by it. She describes Asland with as much simplistic beauty as the mountains. I could understand Miri’s excitement, and then later feel her ache for the mountain she knew and loved.

Content: None.

Conclusion: The end was every bit as exciting as Princess Academy, if not more so. I was rather sad that quarry-speech and the eerie properties of linder were not as prominent in this installment as the previous one, but the Author brings it back into the story in the very end in a tremendously exciting and new way. For a moment, I was even genuinely afraid for one of the characters. I enjoyed Palace of Stone just as much as Princess Academy. I wouldn’t even try to compare them, because their storylines are so different, and I think that that’s what made this one as good as the previous.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, any age. Fans of princess stories and fairytale retellings will find ample pleasure in this one.

Others in This Series:
1)Princess Academy
2)Palace of Stone

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