Monday, February 24, 2014

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Shadow Throne
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Read: September 20 - 21, 2013
February 25, 2014 by Scholastic Press
Source: NetGalley
Category: Fantasy, Male POV, YA (or older MG)

Series: The False Prince #3
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

NOTE: The Shadow Throne is the third book in a series. My review contains some spoilers for the first two books. See my thoughts on The False Prince and The Runaway King

Goodreads summary: 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?

Rousing and affecting, Jaron's adventures have thrilled and moved readers in The False Prince and The Runaway King. Journey once again with the Ascendant King of Carthya, as New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen brings his story to a stunning conclusion with The Shadow Throne.

The Shadow Throne is the final book in Jennifer A. Nielsen's Ascendence trilogy. Carthya is at war, Imogen has been kidnapped and things are looking pretty bleak for Jaron and his country. Thankfully, our young king works well under pressure. 

Jaron continues to be my favorite thing about this series. He's apt to complain loudly if it serves his purposes and he can seem reckless and impulsive. He outsmarts everyone around him, but still puts those he loves above any of his own needs, which tends to place him in extremely stressful situations. His ability to look at a problem from a different direction from everyone else is one of my favorite of his characteristics. In this book Jaron gains confidence, wisdom, and learns about love and sacrifice. 

One element that stands out to me about the third book in this series is how much Jaron matures in his relationships with others. Especially, how his interactions with Ronan and Tobias have grown since the first book. I also continue to love his connection to Mott. It's fun to see how Jaron is able to continually rile up his mentor, but also how their connection and mutual respect has deepened through the series. 

As these characters are at war, there is a lot more fighting going on in this story, and Jaron faces some tough situations. This book has some really intense and exciting parts throughout. I thought the book slowed down a bit in the middle, but I was on the edge of my seat for the first half and also the end. I couldn't always figure out what Jaron was up to, and I like that he still surprises me at times. Although this series is told in Jaron's first person male perspective, I appreciated how much the author worked to add women into the book. They aren't doing much of the actual fighting, but it is very clear how much Jaron values the women in his life and kingdom and how much they are integral to the war. 

This entire series has been fairly low on romance, although it has been clear from the beginning which way it was headed (I've always approved of this direction). Though there is slightly more love story in this final installment, the low amount in this book fits in with the rest of the series. Thankfully there is still no relationship angst, though there is a fair bit of anguish. No triangle either. Jaron begins to think about love and partnership for the first time and it's a lovely part of the book, and also speaks to his growing maturity. But it doesn't overwhelm or cripple the story. I, of course, always want more romance, and wish it had been weaved more throughout the entire story. But that is not what this series has been about and The Shadow Throne continues in that vain. 

The Shadow Throne is a strong end to a series that has focused on one boy's journey from a poor orphan to king of an entire country. I have enjoyed being inside of Jaron's head so much. It's definitely never a boring place to be. This series has done a good job at showing Jaron's growth throughout three books while also staying true to his character and the target audience. The Ascendence trilogy is a great fit for teen boys, even older middle school, but I enjoyed this series as an adult. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Series conclusion 


  1. It's so lovely when a series conclusion is satisfying. It sounds like this was an epic journey and in spite of not having as much romance as you would've liked it's nice to see this series didn't really need it. Wonderful review, Lauren! :)

  2. Oh, yay! I still haven't read The False Prince yet, but I've heard such good things about this series overall. Now that it's come to a conclusion--and apparently a satisfying one at that--I can pick this up without having to wait for the sequels.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  3. Jaron seems absolutely wonderful and I love how selfish he seems to be. It has someone named Ronan in this book? UM YESSSHHHH. I like this. I think it's good to have some slower parts in the l plot if it doesn't like.. make you extremely bored out of your mind. "I, of course, always want more romance, and wish it had been weaved more throughout the entire story." Yeah, I thought the same when I read this paragraph that I would prefer to have a little more romance, though.. sometimes it's better to have romance on the low scale of sorts. Depending on the story. I now know which series to recommend to guys who are in need of some reading material help. Heh. Thanks:) I'm glad you enjoyed!

  4. I just skimmed your review because I still need to read the entire trilogy (which is sitting on my shelf--yay!). I love this kind of story and can't wait to join them on their journey! I probably will want a bit more romance, too, but sometimes, minimal romance works for the story.

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this, Lauren - about time a series conclusion worked for you! I read the first book, The False Prince, but felt as if Jaron and the series as a whole was more of Attolia-lite, so I chose not to continue with the books. I'm planning on getting them for my younger brother's birthday, though, since I think he'll enjoy it while I can curl up with Gen instead. ;) So glad you were able to love both series, though. Fantastic review, dear!

  6. I have heard so much about this series, Lauren and I'm glad to hear that this conclusion was a success for you. I haven't started this yet, but after reading your review, I'm adding this to my TBR. I love how the romance is very low in this book. That's exactly how I enjoy my romances in YA fantasy.
    Fabulous review, Lauren.

  7. I really need to read this series Lauren! I put it off for the longest time despite hearing great things about it because I was convinced that fantasy was not for me. Fail. In the past year I've found and LOVED so many great fantasy stories and now I"m kind of obsessed and want to read as many as I can get my hands on. While I know the romance lover in me is going to want the romantic element to play a larger role, I'm still intrigued by Jaron and just can't wait to see how things progress from beginning to end. Fantastic review my friend!

  8. Oh my goodness I totally forgot this book was coming out! I love love LOVEEE this series, especially because of Jaron! I can't wait to read this...but when I'll be over TT_TT

  9. I haven't read anything in this series yet, but it sounds pretty cool. Any character that can continually surprise you, especially while in first person POV, is definitely worth a look. :)


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