Genre: children's/YA fantasy
Length: 323 pages, or 7 hours and 53 minutes on audiobook
Goodreads | Shelfari | Audible
Synopsis: Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city is a thrill to Miri. She and her princess academy friends have been brought to Asland to help the future princess Britta prepare for her wedding.There, Miri also has a chance to attend school-at the Queen's Castle. But as Miri befriends students who seem sophisticated and exciting she also learns that they have some frightening plans. Torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city, Miri looks to find her own way in this new place.
Picking up where "Princess Academy" left off, and celebrating the joys of friendship, romance and the fate of fairy tale kingdoms, this new book delivers the completely delightful new story that fans have been waiting for.
...for being a much better story than it's predecessor.
Soooo, remember when I said that the first book felt a little shallow? Well, this book made up for it! Palace Of Stone took the story a little deeper, with much more serious undertones. It was actually rather reminiscent of the French Revolution and the subsequent Reign of Terror (at least that's what kept going through my head while I was reading this).
I was much more impressed with the characters this time around, and there were certainly moments where I felt a little choked up with emotion. The pace of the story was very good, with a better climax than in the previous novel, at least in my opinion. I didn't even mind the love triangle bit; it wasn't really central to the plot, just a parallel to the two political sides between which Miri felt very torn.
Overall, there was considerable more depth to this story, with more detail and with stronger, more meaningful conflicts. I think Shannon Hale excels at continuing the story beyond the first book. It's why her Books Of Bayern series is so good, and it's why this second installment works so well. I still think the Books Of Bayern series is better than the Princess Academy series, but Palace Of Stone is a strong contender. I would definitely recommend reading this sequel to any Shannon Hale fan.