Welcome back guys! It’s the first review of the New Year and we’re starting with the end. It’s the final book in the Ascendance series!
We’ve spent 2 books waiting, and it’s finally here: war against Carthya. Except the war is even scarier than Jaron expected. Apparently, he pissed off so many people that pretty much all his neighbouring countries are coming to attack him. What did he do, insult their mothers? Geez, it’s kind of hard to piss off 3 whole countries.
The only hope Carthya has is to persuade some of the countries to pull out. One by one, Jaron sends his friends and loyal allies off to beg help of old friends and try for new alliances. And one by one, they fail. But when Imogen is captured, the final nail is hammered into the coffin. Jaron’s enemies know how important she is to him, even if he barely knows it himself. They know he will walk into a trap with his eyes wide open to rescue her. And he does.
The Quills: 6.5/10
In my life, I’d had my share of fights, sometimes with fists, sometimes with knives, occasionally with a sword. I’d faced opponents twice my size, twice as mean, and, as a general rule, uglier than I’d ever hoped to be.
-Jennifer A. Nielsen, The Shadow Throne
Yay, it’s the final book in the series! I feel like it’s all been building up to this epic, final war. Like the previous books, The Shadow Throne is narrated in first person by Jaron. In my review of the first book, I noted that there were a lot of instances where the first person narrator kept secrets from the reader, which doesn’t really make sense as we’re in the narrator’s head. Well, it happened again here. In fact, pretty much the entire book is written in this style. Jarron has a great idea, and hints at it, but we don’t know what he’s thinking. He talks to people to set his plans in motion, but we don’t know what he says. It’s a really odd way of writing a first person POV, and I don’t really like it. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of first person, doesn’t it?
There is blossoming romance in this part of the series, but it’s not done very well. I think that’s partially because of the middle-grade tone; the emotions are explained but they’re not entirely there. Furthermore, the tone of this book is quite a lot darker than the previous ones (well duh, there’s a war looming overhead) but there are still quite a few smartass lines. They’re a bit hit and miss because sometimes it feels like Jarron’s trying too hard, and it interrupts the sombre tone of the book.
I’d commented before on the scant world building, and it’s not improved in this book. There are a bunch of random countries added to the mix, but all we know about them is that they dislike Jarron. It’s like, “Tell me something I don’t know,” eh?
Overall, the writing is as good as the previous books’. However, the plot feels a little all over the place because it revolves around the plans Jarron makes. Y’know, the plans that are just mysteriously glossed over by that weird first person narrative.
The Roses: 6/10
I did enjoy this book, but not quite as much as the previous books in the series. It may be because I’m not the hugest fan of romance in middle-grade series; it often feels rushed or artificial because of the lack of depth in the characters.
The ending had an interesting twist and it was really fun to watch it play out. Still, by the end, I was tired of Jarron’s secret plans. The hints that were dropped were somewhat obvious (even my kid brother thought so, and he’d read this book years ago, when he was actually in middle school) while other things were just completely skipped over.
I don’t think the dark tone really suited the writing, because the writing continued trying to be light and funny, with a hint of smartass. To me, that doesn’t work so well when the writing is about torture and people dying in agony.
Conclusion: The Ascendance series is a light, fun read, but it doesn’t do so hot when the going gets tough. It’s great for its witty remarks, but a bit unpolished otherwise.