I definitely enjoyed rereading Shannon Hale's Palace of Stone, the sequel to Princess Academy. It was great to read these two books back to back. Having that continuity certainly helped me appreciate it all the more.
Miri is the heroine of Palace of Stone. Princess Academy concludes with Prince Steffan choosing Miri's friend, Britta, to be his wife. Britta and Steffan had known each other before and had fallen in love with each other. But Britta was not from Mount Eskel. Not until her father pushes her into a big deception: she MUST go live a year on Mount Eskel, she must be an orphan sent to live with oh-so-distant relatives on the mountain. She must attend the academy. No one but Miri and Britta and Steffan know the absolute truth. (Well, obviously her ambitious parents know.)
Palace of Stone opens with Miri and a handful of other Princess Academy graduates preparing to go with traders to the capital city. They have all been invited by Britta, they are her ladies. Miri will have an extra privilege as well. She'll be the first person from Mount Eskel to go to university. (Queen's Castle) She is thrilled and anxious and overwhelmed. She really WANTS to learn, to keep on learning, to absorb as much as she possibly can, so she can return to the village she loves and teach others what she's learned in her year away. She is a most eager and motivated student. She's also a great listener. She tries to stay close to Britta and the others, but, it isn't always easy since she's so busy.
And then there is of course her spying. Katar, the representative of Mount Eskel, her former classmate, has begged for Miri's help. She KNOWS that many are discontent and eager for revolution. But she can't seek these 'traitors' out herself and spy for the royal family. But Miri, well, she can be her eyes and ears. She may quite naturally come across these people at university or in the community. (Miri does have greater access, wider access, than some of the other girls.)
Miri learns all about the cause of 'the shoeless.' What she learns about the royal family, what she learns about the nobility, changes her. How can she LIKE such despicable people who are so cruel, so smug, so unfeeling?! She loves Britta, and, she wants to believe that Steffan isn't just like his father, but, she sees the rightness of the cause...
What will Miri do? What can she do? Will revolution come and change the kingdom forever? Or will Miri find a way to save the day?
Readers definitely meet a lot more characters in Palace of Stone. And the book is a quick, satisfying read. Her love of Peder remains strong throughout despite the fact that she's tempted a few times to entertain the attentions of another young man--a fellow student.
The book is beautifully complex in its characterization. It's easy to recommend both books.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews