Middle Grade Review: The Shattered Castle (The Ascendance Series, Book 5) (Jennifer A. Nielsen)

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About This Book:

Acclaimed author Jennifer A. Nielsen brings her signature twists and high-stakes action to the fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Ascendance Series!
King Jaron has outwitted the Prozarians and returned to his own kingdom with one secret in his pocket that not even his friends know about. He’s hoping that secret will help him finally bring stability to Carthya.

But a surprise attack on his own land — on the castle itself — reminds Jaron that nothing is easy. The Prozarian Monarch threatens to crumble Jaron’s entire kingdom. And that’s not the only thing in danger: With old enemies and new rumors circling around him, even Jaron’s relationship with Imogen is uncertain.

This former False Prince will need his best tricks and many allies at his side to hold Carthya together.

 

 

*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Site Manager*

Formula for a Fun Read
 
What Worked: King Jaron must face some hard truths about his relationships. His friends are loyal and Imogen loves him, but he can’t continue to keep everything so secret. Just before his wedding to Imogen the Prozarians overrun his castle defenses with surprising ease. He escapes with the scope but is captured by a traitor to Carthya, Castor Veldegrath.
Castor has delusions of grandeur. He will be the king of Carytha by marrying Imogen and siding with the Prozarians. Imogen destroys Jaron’s heart by dissolving their relationship and choosing to marry Castor instead. Even knowing she loves him and is doing what she must to save Carthya, Jaron realizes he is on the verge of truly losing her. It drives him to finally confide in her things he never wanted to face about his past.
It wouldn’t be the same story if we knew what the plans to save Carthya are, so Jaron weaves in and out of disguises to undermine the Prozarians and protect his friends. As always, things look a little hopeless as Jaron works his personal brand of charm on his enemies to destabilize them from the inside of their organization. With sleight of hand, bold statements of his success, and showing the cracks in his enemies’ loyalties, he is ultimately successful once again.

Final Verdict: The story again delivers on Jaron’s determination to protect his friends and kingdom, outclass his enemies with witt, and charm worthy of any thief. His story continues to be enjoyable. I will say the formula while fun, at times does feel a bit repetitive by the fifth book when he wins against all odds by telling his enemies he’s going to win and then pitting them against each other. The strong relationships with his friends continue to be very heartwarming throughout the story.

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