Friday, September 21, 2012

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone, Shannon Hale

Miri woke to the insistent bleat of a goat. She squeaked open one eye. Pale yellow sky slipped through the cracks in the shutters. 

This is the sequel to Princess Academy, a book I really loved (though I haven't read it in a long time. Perhaps I'll reread it soon.) In Palace of Stone, Miri comes down from Mount Eskel to visit her friend and princess-to-be Britta. But as she soon discovers, things are far more complicated than she realized. The poor of the country, "the shoeless" have had enough oppression and poverty. They want to rise up against the royals. Miri is excited by this idea when she realizes how many people in the lands are starving. But, as she discovers, that could mean killing her friend Britta, and the prince and king and queen. Miri struggles with who to believe in.

There were a lot of interesting concepts tackled in this book, which I received from Bloomsbury USA. The questions of literacy, education, ethics, and class are all raised. Good analogies and sayings are used in the book to illustrate points. In some ways, what the revolutionaries are proposing during the book sounds like it has the potential to turn into the French Revolution, with senseless killing. On the other hand, if you don't get rid of the king and queen and let them live, they may come back and take over again. It's quite a dilemma.

I was somewhat frustrated with Miri at times. She is kind of naive and believes that Ethics will tell her what she needs to do. But that's because she has grown up on the isolated mountain of Eskel, and only recently has discovered the outside world. It's understandable.

Of course, there is a love triangle. There always is one, isn't there? Peder has been her life-long friend and she has always loved him. But she meets Timon, a scholar and revolutionary, who is also in love with her. In other words, Miri has a lot of challenges to face.

I loved this one, and it was just as good as Princess Academy. In fact, it tackled more issues. And it motivated me to reread Princess Academy. I would recommend this to all fans of Shannon Hale's other books (The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, etc.) You can read Becky's review of it here.

Read Palace of Stone:

  • if you like Shannon Hale
  • if you liked Princess Academy
  • if you like fantasy with light romance and politics
321 pages.
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!

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