The Shadow Throne: The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 3 Book Poster Image

The Shadow Throne: The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 3

Boy king fights war in imperfect but satisfying conclusion.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The Shadow Throne is set in a medieval-like time period, so readers get a sense of life and war in that era.

Positive messages

Love is worth more than glory. Be faithful to your friends and they will be loyal to you.

Positive role models

As in the previous books in The Ascendance Trilogy, Jaron frequently makes reckless decisions that endanger his own life, but he always has a higher ideal in mind such as protecting loved ones or the people of his kingdom. Jaron's friends are loyal to a fault; even when Jaron disregards his own safety and puts their kingdom at risk, they remain steadfast toward him and tolerate whatever wild plan he comes up with.


Although The Shadow Throne is all about war, it's actually less violent than The False Prince or The Runaway King. Jaron speaks frequently of the horror of war but mostly refers vaguely to wounds and men scattered on the battlefield rather than giving vivid descriptions. When Jaron is captured, he is starved and hurt by his captors. Some of his friends get severely wounded as a result of the war.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Shadow Throne is the final entry in the The Ascendance Trilogy, following The False Prince and The Runaway King. It opens at the beginning of a war and ends when it's over, but the horror of the many battles fought is generally summarized rather than described in detail. One character is captured and hurt by his captors, and several main characters are severely wounded as a result of the war.

Parents say

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What's the story?

The boy king Jaron is finally ready to take his rightful throne as ruler of Carthya, but his enemies have other ideas. With invasions coming at him from both borders of his country, Jaron must use all his cunning to defeat his enemies and rely on his friends to help him carry out his tricky plans.

Is it any good?


All the loose ends of the previous books are tied up nicely in THE SHADOW THRONE​, but the plot seems forced and unrealistic. For example, during a time of war, King Jaron repeatedly wanders the countryside in enemy territory with no guard or accompaniment, despite the fact that every time he does this, he's captured and endangers himself, his friends, and his country. In addition, much of the action is summarized rather than shown, so it might be difficult for readers to feel involved in the suspense of the story.

However, The Shadow Throne does provide a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy in that it answers some of the burning questions raised in both The False Prince and The Runaway King: Will Jaron ever willingly accept the burden of ruling a country? Will he survive his own recklessness if he does? And will he ever resolve the problem of being betrothed to one girl while loving another? Readers who enjoyed the first two books will want to read this final entry.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about trilogies and how popular they are. Do you think it makes a story more or less powerful to be told over three books? 

  • Which is usually your favorite entry in a trilogy: the first, second, or final book?

  • How is the way war is fought in The Shadow Throne different from the way wars are fought today? How much do you think the ability to communicate digitally affects the outcome of modern wars?

Book details

Author:Jennifer A. Nielsen
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Press
Publication date:February 25, 2014
Number of pages:336
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of The Shadow Throne: The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 3 was written by

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Teen, 14 years old Written byfuzzmee January 27, 2015

This book series was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G

The characters are all very original and loveable. I thought the first book in the trilogy, The False Prince, had a kind of predictable plot, but still had a LOT of surprises and twists that left you grabbing for the next book in the series. The Shadow Throne was fabulously written, fast-paced and should appeal to fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Harry Potter. There is a romance, but there are only a few fluffy scences and kisses. I believe that this is the only series I've read that continuously gets better with each book.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 17 years old Written bygilly_boy November 8, 2014

Great Character, Plot Not So Much

I personally thought this was a great book even if the conclusion was a little... slow. While I may not care for the plot, I adore the characters for their loyalty and wit. Jaron, who was originally called Sage in the first book, has some really clever tricks up his sleeve; despite having a thief's/orphan's life style in the beginning, he somewhat does a little growing up or he already had these qualities and put them to good use. Thing I don't like these books is that we not all that clued in on what he's planning, this is all in Jaron's point of view yet we're not getting all the details of what's happening; but this could also be a good thing cause when we think this is the end for Jaron or someone close to him, he pulls a fast one. At this point, I think everyone in the book are a little tired of his antics. He's a great strategist (and has a lot of pain tolerance), I'll give him that. As stated, not much for the plot but I did like how it all came together. There was one part where Roden finds out about his father, completely unexpected and I think that Jennifer Nielsen put that there on a sense a purpose for him. However, a little disappointed in the ending; it didn't really give that feeling it was over and I kind of wanted to see more. This may be the girl part of me saying this but I wanted to see Jaron and Imogem's child, whether he/she would be as much trouble as their father and have this conversation about how the others were doing, that would've been more satisfying.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 16 years old Written byGRACE_Bookworm February 28, 2015

Plot twist upon plot twist

This book kept me guessing until the end! The writing style was not superb, but the wit and humor displayed by Jaron, the main character and "boy king," as well as the many surprises in the plot held my attention until the last page.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence