THE SHATTERED CASTLE, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Scholastic Press, Oct. 19, 2021, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 8-12)
Jennifer A. Nielsen returns to the kingdom of Carthya in the fifth and final book in her Ascendance series, The Shattered Castle.
King Jaron has outwitted the Prozarians and returned to his own kingdom with one secret in his pocket that not even his friends know about. He’s hoping that secret will help him finally bring stability to Carthya.
But a surprise attack on his own land — on the castle itself — reminds Jaron that nothing is easy. The Prozarian Monarch threatens to crumble Jaron’s entire kingdom. And that’s not the only thing in danger: With old enemies and new rumors circling around him, even Jaron’s relationship with Imogen is uncertain.
This former False Prince will need his best tricks and many allies at his side to hold Carthya together. —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Press
If you’re a fan of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s work, then you can rejoice, The Shattered Castle offers a strong ending to a great series. If you haven’t read the Ascendance series, it should be on your to-read list starting with The False Prince and followed by The Runaway King, The Shadow Throne and The Captive Kingdom.
Nielsen’s series originally started out as a trilogy, but seven years after its completion, it has now expanded to five novels, and it feels like that’s the way it always should have been.
Now, if you’ve already read the first four books, I highly recommend rereading them before picking up The Shattered Castle. Not only will it refresh you on the entire storyline, but the nuances will stand out far better.
One thing that needs no refreshing, however, is Jaron’s voice. His personality — warts and all — is as clear and familiar as ever. His is as cocky and seemingly self-destructive as ever. But his humility and love for his people rings true. As in the past, he’s always got some tricks up his sleeve, and Nielsen makes sure he holds them close.
The Shattered Castle is full of plot twists of all sizes, including a big one that explains a lot of Jaron’s behavior. It’s a great read with lots of mystery and adventure. Nielsen’s writing is comfortable and inviting, making The Shattered Castle a welcome addition to any home library.