Sunday, August 19, 2012

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Hale, Shannon. Princess Academy: Palace of Stone
21 August 2012, Bloomsbury USA, ARC from Baker and Taylor
Reviewed at Young Adult Books Central

This sequel to Princess Academy (2007) shows Miri waiting for the traders to take her away from Eskel to stay with Britta in Aslan and study at the Queen's Acadmey. While Miri doesn't want to leave her father and sister, much less her mountain home, she desperately wants to learn. She convinces Peder's father to let him come to the city as well, and apprentice himself to a stone cutter. Miri is glad to be reunited with several of the girls from the Princess Academy, and is glad that Britta will soon be marrying Stefan. It's hard to adjust to living in the palace, but Miri soon meets Timon, another scholar, and he helps her understand life in the city. He also introduces her to Lady Sisela, who is running a group who are oppsed to Britta marrying Stefan, since the prophecy stated that he should marry someone from Mount Eskel and she merely pretended to be because she was already in love with him. Politically, Aslan is in great turmoil, and Miri gets caught between two causes: supporting Britta, whom she really believes should help rule the country, and Lady Sisela's group, which is fighting against the injustice of the crippling tributes that the king is imposing upon the working class. She is also torn between Peder and Timon, both of whom she likes. When Sisela's group puts Britta and the entire royal family in grave danger, Miri must use all of the skills and knowledge she has acquired to make all sides of the issue happy without war occurring.
Strengths: While Princess Academy left me kind of cold, I really liked the sequel! The politics of the less fortunate are finely drawn, and Mirir's personal involvement made me interested. The life in court was intriguing, and the world building was top notch. The updated covers are also a great improvement.
Weaknesses: Since this is a sequel, I'll have to push the first book before readers will be able to understand this one fully.

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