Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen | A Beautiful End to a Series *Spoilers*

The Ascendance Trilogy #3
Date Read: Jan 19 to 22, 2018
First Published: 2014
Young Adult, Fantasy
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?
Okay, so first things first... I love this book and I love this series and I highly highly recommend you get it if you haven't yet! You will fall in love with the main character and his journey, guaranteed!

Speaking of Jaron's journey... Can we take a minute to appreciate what Nielsen has done with this trilogy? Some trilogies suffer from "second book syndrome", where the second book is kind of meh and filler. Not The Ascendence Trilogy. The first book was all about getting Jaron to the crown. The second is all about Jaron assembling his court in preparation for the war. And the third is said war, with Jaron as the proper and respected king of Carthya.

No book is filler, or there just for the sake of prolonging the series. Each book is necessary to Jaron's development and the authentic flow of the story... to making this final book satisfying and gratifying. To making Jaron's final triumph meaningful. And I don't consider this a spoiler because let's face it, did you really think this precarious and precious king would not succeed?

And yes, I am still as in love with Jaron as ever. I love how kind and self-sacrificing he is. How all his actions are motivated by a single-minded desire to help others. I love how despite this he is not perfect; he is hot-headed and stubborn, and proud. And a little dense in certain aspects.

I truly wish more leaders were like Jaron - because he definitely inspires a sense of loyalty and respect from everyone who encounters him; from his armies, his regents, his subjects, his friends and, of course, the readers.

He is a king you would proudly follow into battle.

And that battle... it was brilliantly written, as always. I absolutely adored reading of Jaron's plans, schemes, and tricks, and Nielsen does an amazing job setting those up, allowing us to understand Jaron has something planned, but almost never enough for you to figure out exactly what before it happens.

The one weak point of this novel is one that has been accompanying me since book one and that's the romance. Don't get me wrong--Imogen and Jaron are cute together, no doubt about that. Especially with the kisses at the end (like, that was totes adorable). But since I never quite understood why and when they fell in love in book one, I failed to understand it here, so I left still feeling like something was missing. Feeling like his reaction to her death is too monumental because their love was never properly based for me. Same goes for Tobias and the Princess.

In this regards, my re-read of the first book kind of did a disservice to this series. I feel like had I not done that to refresh my memory, I would have gone forward in the books under the illusion those emotions have been explored better in book one, and therefore feeling more at peace with them. Oh well, not everything about a book can be a win.

I'm extremely sad to be saying goodbye to this world and characters, but here's to hoping Nielsen's other protagonists are as incredible as Jaron was because I will be reading them for sure!

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