Now that Miri’s friend Britta has become the new princess, she has invited Miri and the other academy girls to the capital of Danland to see her wedding. Miri is not only excited to see the lowlands but also scared to leave behind Mount Eskel for those few months. And when she reaches her destination, she enters the Queen’s Castle, a prestigious academy for scholars where she meets another boy (who may become Peder’s rival for Miri’s heart) and she can learn even more. And learn she does—because she discovers that there is revolution brewing in the streets of Asland. People have been inspired by Miri’s own little revolution in Mount Eskel, and they are silently planning to overthrow the king himself.
Throughout the novel there is a recurring theme of old vs. new. Miri has the toughest decisions in attempting to decide between Mount Eskel and the capital, between Peder and a new crush, and between her loyalty to Britta and the allure of the revolution. I thought this was ingenious of Shannon Hale, especially since indecision is relevant to all of us. Both sides tug at her heart, and she has no idea what she should choose.
I’ll admit that I had an idea of what she would choose in the end (I was rooting for that side, after all), but the novel was not predictable. At all. (Well, minus the fact that I figured out who was the “new crush” when I first met him.)
I’m sad to say that there’s less of a focus on linder magic in Palace of Stone, but there is a little magic mystery that would make any fantasy lovers happy.
The romance in this novel was TOO adorable. I don’t want to give anything away, but I completely kyaaa-ed when [insert name] [insert action] Miri. I’m a long diehard fan of that couple, so I was a bit annoyed when Shannon Hale thrust them apart for a while (bleh, why must they both be too busy for each other at times?) but I was satisfied in the end. (Awwww.)
I love how in Princess Academy, Miri learned to become book-smart, but in this book, Miri learned how to become street-smart. The concept of revolution has really changed her perspective on what she thought was the norm, but her loyalty to Britta keeps her anchored. I’ve always thought of Miri as a strong girl, and seeing her crumble like this at times made me a little sad—but I was proud of her in the end because she finally figured out her own way to solve her problems.
Shannon Hale’s writing is exceptional. Though the description and diction isn’t particularly incredible, Hale’s style of writing seems almost magical. It evokes the idea of a fairytale—which certainly came in handy when she wrote her Books of Bayern series. Her writing is fluid and distinctive, and it wraps the story up in a pretty red bow.
Overall, Palace of Stone is one of Shannon Hale’s best works. The beautiful writing wraps the intriguing plot and the likable characters into a superb, thought-provoking work of art. Simply phenomenal.
Source: Galley received from publisher for review