The Shadow Throne is a book by Jennifer A. Nielsen, The plot takes place in a kingdom known as The Land or The North. The main characters are named Malachiasz and The Watcher.
Malachiasz is an orphan taken care of by The King’s Captain of the Royal Guard, The Watcher watches over The King to make sure The Shadow isn’t planning to kill The King. The Watcher’s name is not known by The King because The Watcher doesn’t reveal his name.
The book was published on August 7, 2014 as a sequel to The False Prince and as a prequel to The Runaway King due it being released two years after helping Imogen save the kingdom from Nockmaar’s war then going back in time twelve years until before Sage arrives at the castle where he finds out that helping Imogen will change the fate of the real heir.
The Shadow Throne takes place a few months after The Runaway King . In The False Prince Sage has been crowned king but Queen Sera has been evading him to find her son Tobias who went missing a few weeks before The False Prince. The Shadow wasn’t seen for twelve years after The Runaway King and that The North had been thriving for ten years, The Shadow is planning something big.
Nathaniel Hawthorne meets Sage at the castle where Sage tells him that The Shadow isn’t The Watcher’s father but The Queen’s husband who was killed by The Queen to hide the secret of Tobias’ true identity and giving her access to The Land. Nathaniel has an idea about where Tobias might be and he requests more men from The King so they can rescue him quickly because Theo will kill him if he finds out about his true identity.
When Nathaniel and Sage get back to their kingdom, The King speaks with them privately then lets them go. The King is The False Prince, The Guard sends the men to go with Nathaniel. The book goes into detail about The Shadow’s origins and how he became king of The Land.
The book The Shadow Throne can be enjoyed by anyone who likes detailed descriptions and a lot of adventure. This book is the third in The Ascendance Trilogy, so The False Prince , The Runaway King , The Shadow Throne should be read in that order. The author does a good job of filling the reader in on what had happened before if they started this book without reading the previous two.
The story starts off with King Jargon being placed under house arrest for overthrowing his parents from the throne, but he decides to escape his imprisonment after a few years pass. He then returns home, only to find out that everything has completely changed over time and people he once knew have turned against him now since they believe he is dead.
After many adventures, King Jargon finds he is still in danger. The people of Carthya are turning against each other again, and the former leaders who banished him after his parents were thrown from the throne are back to rule Carthya once more. The reader find that it’s up to King Jargon to figure out a way to save himself and everyone around him. The story ends with King Jargon fighting off his enemies in an intense battle, but ultimately having happy endings for most characters.
In The Shadow Throne, King Caben tries to maintain peace in his kingdom as an angry populace demands vengeance for the execution of those wrongly accused of killing Empress Elisa four months prior. The threat of war looms over Rilan, though no one knows whether it will be with Erilea or with neighboring Amara. The former queen’s son Xavier must deal with losing trust in his father and brother after he learns the truth about their lies.
The story follows these two families as they struggle to maintain peace under duress, and face betrayal from within until The Ascendance Trilogy reaches its conclusion in The Empty Throne. The Shadow Throne is one of the most-loved books among readers who enjoy similar stories to The Hunger Games or The Selection. Critics have praised Nielsen’s writing for its lack of vulgar language and violent imagery compared to other young adult literature. The book received an average rating of 3 out of 5 stars on popular review sites such as Goodreads, LibraryThing, Barnes & Noble, etc.
However, some were critical that it did not take much risks structurally or stylistically—it was seen as a well-written but highly-predictable book that was enjoyable but not particularly memorable. The series as a whole will be compared to The Hunger Games and The Selection for as long as the popularity of those books lives on. The Shadow Throne begins four months after The False Prince ends, with Empress Elisa’s son Mathias assuming the throne following her father, Cabmen’s, execution for murdering her mother, Liana.
Queen Asile rules Amara with an iron fist in Elisa’s name since she has no living heirs or any sign that another heir exists. The kingdom is technically ruled by King Xavier of Rilan—Elisa’s brother—with his wife Sara holding political power due to being Caben’s daughter, though many believe it would be Sara’s firstborn son, Theon, who would have been heir had he not been born a bastard. The story follows the political maneuvering throughout the book as those around Mathias see him as too young and naive to rule without guidance from others.
The former rebels of The False Prince try to serve as his council but many believe he is unfit for rulership after murdering Caben—a man who was loved by most of his subjects. The remaining members of The Bloodletter’s Blade, including Fallen and Kestral, continue to fight against the forces of both Asile and Xavier in an attempt to restore peace through justice. The reader is introduced to new characters such as Taryn, a female warrior from Nomaer whose sister murdered The False Prince Nicolo, and Theon, Sara’s firstborn son who is destined to rule even if he has no title.
The rebellion escalates into full-blown war—eventually involving Rilan itself—as The Bloodletter’s Blade fights against Xavier in an attempt to gain peace. The climax of this book features the Battle of Thealon where all forces gather on either side to fight for or against Mathias’ right to rule. There are many deaths as both sides realize they will be fighting a long war with the ultimate prize being control over Erilea since The Selection is drawing closer each day. The fate of the kingdom rests on Mathias’ ability to hold it together long enough for Emily (the true heir) to be found.
The book ends with The Lion’s War beginning—the battle is Rilan itself—and Mathias is forced to make a difficult choice that alters the future of his kingdom forever. The biggest themes of this story include loss of innocence, justice in war, and the cost of peace. The number of characters who lose their lives throughout is staggering, leading many to believe this is a more mature series than The Hunger Games. Many books focus on the bright side of heroism but The Shadow Throne shows both sides equally: what it takes for people to do heroic or evil things despite knowing the consequences if they are caught.