Smart fantasy knows revolution is the easy answer, not the right one

Palace of Stone - Shannon Hale

Another wonderful YA fantasy suitable for younger readers.


Miri and company leave the mountain to attend their friend's wedding in the capital and discover the country has some serious trouble brewing. The king is out of touch and careless, his nobles are abusing the commoners, and a bloody revolution is brewing in the background. But Miri's there to learn, and at the royal academy, she struggles with the study and true practice of how to determine, and how to act on, right and wrong.


The answer is complicated, and that's part of what makes this writing stand out. In 2018, we're all about fierce, take charge girls being savage and taking down the patriarchy and Nazis and whatever else is doing damage. And we need to call out the abuse of power and the suffering of the powerless and other evils. But, as the head scholar points out to Miri, history shows that revolutions generally involve a lot of murder, a lot of purposeless blood spilt, and much less progress toward their glorious ideals than they were meant to. Understanding, finding a connecting point, and persuading others to reassess their positions is much more effective in taking steps towards a more just outcome.


This story explores the emotions and thoughts of the characters as they confront difficult realities in a believable, relatable way. It's somewhat utopian - the crafted plot of a story allows for neat turns and unlikely defusing of volatile situations - but it reminds us to value people and choose the hardest path, the one where we don't just get to tear down what we hate, but rather have to find a way forward and build a better future for everyone. It's smart, considered, enjoyable, and inspiring writing.