Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy #3) by Jennifer A. Nielsen - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Scholastic Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: The Shadow Throne (Ascendance Trilogy #3)
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Date of Publication: February 25, 2014

My The Shadow Throne (#3) Pre-Reading
My The Runaway King (#2) Review
My The Runaway King (#2) Pre-Reading
My The False Prince (#1) Review
My The False Prince (#1) Pre-Reading

Paul's The False Prince (#1) Review

Synopsis: One war.
Too many deadly battles.
Can a king save his kingdom, when his own survival seems unlikely?

War has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does.

His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighbouring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya's throne?

Rousing and affecting, Jaron's adventures have thrilled and moved readers in The False Prince and The Runaway King. Journey once again with the Ascendant King of Carthya, as New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen brings his story to a stunning conclusion with The Shadow Throne.


Review: I really thought that The Runaway King was going to be as good as it got. That The Shadow Throne would wrap up the story, but that it wouldn't be as intense, fast-paced, or insightful as The Runaway King. You guys. I was wrong. So, so wrong. Because The Shadow Throne was probably my favorite book of the series, and had so much going for it. I don't know how, but Jennifer Nielsen managed to write a series that only gets better as it goes along, and grows as Jaron does.

I knew that Jaron was going to get himself into quite a bit of trouble in this book. I mean, what would a book in this trilogy be if he wasn't in some ridiculous predicament that seemed impossible to get out of? Before, there was pretending to be an orphan pretending to be a king. Then, there were pirates and thieves. And now, Jaron has to try to pull his entire country through a war where all of the odds are stacked against him. And THEN, to make matters worse, he experiences one of the greatest losses he's ever been through. He's pretty much an emotional wreck this entire book, but he still manages fight for his country and his friends and his life. 

One of my favorite things about Jaron is how he always keeps everyone guessing. As readers, we all know he's got a plan stewing even when it seems like everything is hopeless. He drops hints and does things that should give away what he's going to do, but somehow Nielsen manages to add details that make it a surprise every time. I would love to spend a day in his head, or to be able to talk with him for an afternoon. That kid is crazy, and I loved every bit of it. It just amazed me how smart and cunning and resourceful Jaron is, and I loved reading about his situation and trying to pick out clues as to what his plan was.

Another thing that I really liked about this book was how much darker it seemed than The False Prince and even The Runaway King. There's so much death and violence and war is always a dark thing, and I was really impressed that Nielsen managed to write everything in a way that would still be alright for a younger audience. This book definitely felt older to me than the other two - closer to a YA book than a MG book, I think - but there's nothing too scary or gory or anything that a younger child wouldn't be able to handle. 

I could really go on about how incredible this book is for a long time, but I don't want to give too much away. The best way to experience the conclusion to this series is to read it yourself, and I don't think you'll be disappointed. The ending is satisfying and fits very much with the characters and the overall tone of the series, and I'm glad things worked out the way they did. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has read the rest of the series, and to anyone who is a fan of YA/MG fantasy. Especially for younger kids who are looking to get into a really good fantasy series. 5/5!


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