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PALACE OF STONE by Shannon Hale

PALACE OF STONE

From the Princess Academy series, volume 2

By Shannon Hale

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59990-873-1
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Miri leaves her mountain of linder stone for another year of study and finds ethics and rhetoric to be powerful tools in the making of a revolution.

This sequel to Princess Academy (2005) returns Miri and several of the girls from Mount Eskel to Asland to prepare for the wedding of Miri’s best friend Britta to Prince Steffan. Times are dire: The people are destitute or starving, and the king, Steffan’s father, seems indifferent and distant. Miri meets Timon, a classmate, and Lady Sisela, who speak strongly of the oppression of “the shoeless.” The first half of the tale is a little slow and full of set-up, but the second half, when Miri takes action to prevent bloodshed, is powerful and deeply engaging. She uses not only rhetoric and ethics but the emotions of her people, which are held in the linder stone that comprises the palace, to hold the violence of the revolution in check. The politics echo the French Revolution (Hale notes this in the acknowledgments), but Miri’s clear voice keeps the story hers and her people’s. There’s lovely texture to clothing and architectural descriptions and vivid warmth to Miri’s friendships, her longing for home and her thirst to learn more and more. Not one but two boys help her find all the feelings kisses can engender.

Miri’s story comes to a satisfying end; readers who have been waiting since 2005 will find their patience well rewarded. (Fantasy. 10-14)