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A princess has been selected, and all the other girls have gone back to their homes. The end? They lived happily ever after?
Well... not exactly. "Princess Academy: Palace of Stone" picks up where Shannon Hale's first enchanting tale of potential princesshood left off, now with a darker French Revolution-inspired twist. The plot is a bit scattered at times, shifting from rising unrest to the romantic travails of Miri, but it's a powerful little fantasy story with a heroine that is impossible to not like.
All the girls of Mount Eskel are summoned to the palace, so they can attend to Britta before her wedding next spring. But upon arriving, Miri realizes that things aren't going well for Britta's future in-laws -- all the other provinces send mocking tributes, and a person claiming to represent the "shoeless" tries to murder the king. A revolution is brewing because of the king's high taxes, among the poor and rich alike.
And Miri quickly discovers that the people of Asland are not fond of the Mount Eskel people. Though she lives in luxury and attends a fine university, everyone sees her as a bumpkin who is lower than the servants.
Before long she finds herself suspended between the royals and the rebels -- she loves and supports Britta, but she also realizes what the king's callous indifference has done to his country. But when the rebel leaflets start stirring up hatred of Britta -- using Miri's innocent words against her -- Miri realizes that both sides are acting with cruelty she can't support. But how can a humble girl from Mount Eskel stop a revolution?
Writing a sequel to "Princess Academy" is a pretty gutsy move on Shannon Hale's part -- after all, it won the coveted Newbery Award. But she pulls it off nicely with "Princess Academy: Palace of Stone," primarily because it's not the same story all over again. And Miri finds out more about the world -- poverty, corruption, snobbery and cruelty among the nobles. I guess fantasy worlds aren't as different from reality as you think.
In this case, she drew a lot of inspiration from the French Revolution... although thankfully there's a less bloody, happier resolution to the Aslandian conflict. After introducing the rebellion with a bang (literally), Hale winds the dark threads of impending war through Miri's story. As the story goes on, they grow thicker and coarser, until finally there is nothing else to be seen.
The plot is sometimes a little scattered, bouncing between the court and the secret rebel meetings. It only meshes together neatly in the tautly-written climax, which resonates with Miri's voice and inner strength. And Hale's nimble, bright prose and little patches of singsong poetry keep it flowing smoothly as a bolt of silk. And she catches emotions that shine like so many jewels -- the moments of humiliation, of happiness, and occasionally of romance.
Miri is still a lovely and instantly relatable heroine, and she expands in strength and intelligence in this book. As she learns more about life in Asland, she also finds out how nasty it can be -- and her compassion for the shoeless is not diminished by her love for Britta. "We could try to unite nobility and commoners to bring change together," she urges the rebels in one scene, and she works toward that goal for the rest of the book.
She also gets stuck in a love triangle in this book. She and Peder have a slightly awkward romantic relationship, but the wealthy rebel boy Timon also develops a massive crush on her as well. Hale adds little flickers of development to the various people here -- Britta, Lady Sisela, the dull queen and the spoiled cold king -- to keep them from ever seeming flat or simple.
While not quite as tight in places as "Princess Academy," the sequel "Palace of Stone" is a little gem of a fantasy book -- especially since it rests on a bright, strong young heroine. A delightful little book.
Palace of Stone is the sequel to a book that didn't need a sequel, but the world of Miri would not be complete with it. (This review does contain spoilers for Princess Academy, but not for Palace of Stone).
Palace of Stone takes the reader through a series of emotions and thoughts. With Miri we have to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, both as an individual and as a society.
This book centers around the concept of revolution. Things in Danland are not what they seemed. There is more unrest than previously expected. Miri from her life on Mount Eskel has had little exposure to the lowlands and thus with her we slowly uncover the tangled weave of Danland's politics and people. Miri was a revolutionary at Mount Eskel and now she can see what this meant to all of Danland.
This book questions things that I took for granted from the first, but in an excellent way. It made me wonder why I took those things for granted in the first place, because now I am of the opinion that I shouldn't have. A brief example: my thoughts on Britta. At first I assumed that everyone would feel like I did towards her (and like Miri did within the first book), but in my joy of seeing her happiness with her engagement to Steffan, I had forgotten to consider the entire picture. Palace of Stone shows me that.
Miri grows significantly within the book to marvelous results. She is exposed to true and innocent romance, the true meaning of loyalty and friendship and the possibility of a brighter future.
This book was an excellent and incredibly sweet read. Thought-provoking and memorable. Fans of the Princess Academy will not be disappointed.
based on disliker revews, they mostly complain about it being boring in the beginning. i do agree that it didn't start with action, but seriosly DO NOT STOP READING BECAUSE IT DID NOT START ACTION PACKED!!! read on! it gets so much better! it is full of adventure and tough situations and trust. and it is ood for all ages! i would know, i am eleven. at the begining i almost stoped reading. but it got amazingly better! it is an amazing story! it will go on my shelf with harry potter and little wemen. you might still be thinking, why listen to this revewer? well, for one i am eleven. and if someone as young as me likes it, why not give it a try? two, it is clean. if you have read shannon hale's other books, you need to read this one.
A good sequel to the Princess Academy. The story follows up the original story where the Princess Britta is about to wed her prince and she calls for all of her Princess Academy attendants to join her in the Castle. Miri, our heroine rejoins the Princess and is immediately faced with the challenge of finding out whether the country under turmoil is about to prompt a revolution and overthrow the ruling class. I won't spoil the story, it is as enchanting as the original book was. I would say, my only conflict with Miri's character is that she is so easily swayed by the introduction of an intellectual young man who fervently pushes for a change in the social order. But, all in all, the story maintains the same clever and deft story telling that Shannon Hale brings to all of her fairytale stories. I love her use of language and easy dialogue. The story is a tad predictable in the romance department--there isn't very much to be honest, but what there is does have a ring of truth and humor that is very appealing. As this is intended for a younger audience, it is appropriate that the focus is on the drama of the story. I do wonder how younger audiences will find this retelling of the French Revolution--perhaps they will be relieved to find that history can be retold with happier endings.
Shannon Hale is a fantastic author. She is one of the best writers of young adult fiction that I have encountered in many many hours of reading.
That said, Palace of Stone failed to wow me as much as her other books have. Her writing style is still excellent, with deft turns of phrase and dialogue. Her setting was interesting, and I enjoyed seeing Miri attend a school that introduced her to ethical dilemmas both practical and philosophical. But it was just not quite enough to rate five stars.
I was hoping to get to know the original characters of Princess Academy better as well as seeing new characters. The queen was well drawn and a fascinating character, and I found Master Filippus an interesting addition also. Timon was less than impressive (which appears to be deliberate). I would have liked to see Miri's relationship with Peder develop further, but they both get distracted with other pursuits.
Shannon Hale attempted the difficult by taking a familiar and well loved cast of characters and transplanting them into an entirely new environment, and on the whole she succeeds. She also does a good job at keeping continuity and weaving into being a courtly aspect of the world started in Princess Academy.
Altogether, this story is a very good read and worth the time taken-- though if this is your first introduction to Shannon Hale's stories, I would suggest starting with Princess Academy and/or The Goose Girl.
Ich liebe Shannon Hale. Die Bayern Books sind ganz große klasse. Die Princess Academy books wollte ich zunächst nicht lesen, weil der Titel so langweilig und überhaupt nicht mein Interessengebiet zu sein scheint. Als ich dann einmal anfing, kam ich gar nicht mehr los. Trotz allem sind die Bayern books besser, ausgefeilter, tiefsinniger. Aber auch die Princess Academy bietet ausreichend Unterhaltung. Die "überraschenden Wendungen" in den Stories fand ich jetzt nie wirklich überraschend. Ein grundsätzliches Problem der Bücher ist, dass sich alle Gefahren und Probleme immer so schnell in Wohlgefallen auflösen, was manchmal die Glaubwürdigkeit ein klein wenig zu sehr herausfordert.
Palace of Stone ist das schlechteste Buch der Serie, die Revolutionsgeschichte - und vor allem, wie sie sich entwickelt, ist einfach nicht glaubwürdig genug. Ich würde gern 5 Sterne geben, weil ich einfach Shannon Hales Bücher immer gut und lesbar und unterhaltsam finde, aber dafür waren mir zu viele fast schon naive Storylines. Allein, dass jemand nach einem Jahr Lesen und Schreiben lernen (mit Tanz und Haltung und Konversationsübungen) auf einmal fit genug sein soll, eine Uni zu besuchen... Na jaaaaaaaa. Man muß sein Hirn schon ein wenig ausschalten, um das Buch so richtig genießen zu können. Dafür gibt es definitiv einen Stern Abzug.