Monday, February 3, 2014

ARC Book Review: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Title: The Shadow Throne
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: Feb 25, 2014
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions: 
It fits nicely with the rest of the series, with a stand out color and one main symbol.  I am not a huge fan of the title as it seems a little generic and variations on that title are pretty common among fantasy novels.

The Gist:
Jaron faces the biggest challenge of his less than easy rule.  Carthya is under attack from the neighboring kingdoms.  Imogen has been captured and Jaron will have to use every ounce of cleverness and wit to ensure her safety and to save the throne he worked so hard to reclaim.


As The Shadow Throne opens we are thrown into the action quite quickly.  I could have used a touch of backstory to remind me what happened in the last book but I understand that we have a limited amount of time in order to wrap up a considerable number of lose ends and to wage an entire war.

Jaron (Sage) is just as clever and calculating as ever.  My favorite plot points involved Jaron being a little shit, ie: talking shit, pulling pranks, being cocky in the face of tremendous adversity.  I often describe him to my students by saying "you will both love him and want to strangle him all at the same time."  In this novel, Jaron continues to have some of the greatest lines.  A particular favorite was "This is my offer.  I'll let you hang me twice.  I won't even put up a fuss the second time."  These wonderfully humorous quips remind me of my first reading of Harry Potter when he broke out the serious sass (sadly almost all of these were cut out of the movies). 

We get to experience some character growth with Jaron coming to understand the travesty of war and to emphasize with the choices of his father.  I think this will truly make him a better equipped king.  I was particularly pleased his coming to understand the role of women in his kingdom.  The book features a few scenes in which women come to the rescue and Jaron states "It would take entire lifetimes for the men of Carthya to deserve their women."  I thoroughly enjoy seeing this in writing, particularly in middle grade writing. 

The Shadow Throne does suffer from a little lag around the middle.  This section involves tons of talking and traveling. It became difficult for me to follow, or care, where all the soldiers are and battles are. I much preferred the intrigue of the first book to the war plans of this one.  It got to the point that I was actually skimming the dialogue because I just wanted to get back to the action.  Luckily, the pacing gets much better in the last third when we get back to Jaron's scheming and secret plots being revealed.  I was a little disappointed with the predictability of one of the major plot points (Spoiler: The number of people who were supposed to be dead but weren't really dead made this slightly reminiscent of a Moffat script.)  The ending also came out pretty much as expected, but it was pleasant nonetheless.

Overall, I was pleased with the conclusion to this trilogy, even if it was a tad predictable.  I loved the character of Jaron from the first book to the last and I anxiously await whatever Jennifer Nielsen has in store next. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

Age: 12 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: Kissing
Violence: War, Torture, Death by sword, arrow, drowning.
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse: None


Post a Comment