Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Shannon Hale
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2012   ISBN: 978-1599908731

Not that long ago Miri Larendaughter and the other people in her village were barely managing to survive on what they were able to earn by quarrying linder stone out of the mountain. Then Miri and some of the other girls went to the Princess Academy where Miri learned enough about people, trade, negotiation, and finance that she was able to advise the elders in the village so that the villagers could earn a fair fee for their stone.

Now Miri and several of the princess academy girls are leaving their village on Mount Eskel to go to Asland, the Danesland capital. One of their group at the princess academy, Britta, was chosen to be Prince Steffan’s bride, and now rest of the girls are going to Asland to help the princess-to-be to get ready for her wedding. Miri is also going to be attending the Queen’s Castle, a university where she will have access to teachers and resources that she has only dreamed about.

The girls are not at the palace long before they get the sense that all is not well is Asland. When the provinces give their king their harvest gifts, all of the gifts, except the one from Mount Eskel, are clearly intended to show the king that he is not in favor. As if this is not bad enough, the last person who steps forward to give the king a gift turns out to be an assassin. The man says that he represents “the shoeless” and then he tries, and fails, to assassinate the king.

When the girls are finally able to rest in their room after this frightening event, the delegate from Mount Eskel, Katar, asks Miri if she can try to find out what is going on. There is unrest brewing and Katar needs to know if the common people, the shoeless, are going to be able to stage a successful revolution. The shoeless have been crushed by the nobles and the crown for too long, and now their discontent is bubbling away just beneath the surface.

Miri soon finds out that Kata is right. At the Queen’s Castle she meets a student who introduces her to some of the people who are determined to make sure that the shoeless are given more rights and protections. Inspired by a revolution that took place in a nearby country, these people want to bring down the monarchy in Daneland so that a fairer form of government can be installed.

Miri agrees with many of the things that the revolutionaries say. The king’s demands for tribute from his subjects are causing widespread poverty and suffering in the land. The shoeless have no rights and have no way to get justice when they are treated badly. Something needs to change. Fired up by the talk, Miri is eager to help in the cause and she is happy to be a part of the movement. Then she finds out that her revolutionary friends are not what they seem. Their plans threaten the lives of Britta and the rest of the royal family. The revolutionaries do not care how many people die, but Miri does, and she realizes that she has to do something to save Britta and Danesland.

In this stunning sequel to The Princess Academy, Shannon Hale takes her delightfully real and sympathetic Miri on another adventure, and this time Miri faces problems on many fronts. She is drawn to two young men and she does not know what to do about them; she is torn between her fondness for Asland and her love for Mount Eskel; and she is also torn between her new friends and their cause and her old friendship with Britta. Shannon manages, by some kind of writing alchemy, to weave these elements and story threads together to give her readers a tale that is exciting, magical, and quite captivating. Several wonderful surprises bring the story to a satisfying and delicious close.