Trylle finish

Ascend
Amanda Hocking
Pan Macmillan
2012, pp 344
299

The fairytale-like rise to fame of Amanda Hocking, the young American author of the paranormal romantic genre whose self-published books have redefined the scope of electronic publishing in the modern literary world, is inspiring to say the least. Even as traditional publishers fervently hope that her success story is just an aberration, Hocking continues to charm her readers with her fantasy stories and Ascend, the final book of her Trylle trilogy, explains loud and clear why she is such a big hit among young readers everywhere.

The Trylle trilogy narrates the transformation of a young girl Wendy from being a gawky teenager into a powerful ruler of the Trylle kingdom. It seems that Hocking saved her best for last in the trilogy as Ascend is great entertainment from start to finish. While Switched, the first book in the Trylle series, was captivating with a good mix of thrill, surprise and romance, Torn, the second book, was low on entertainment quotient.

But Ascend more than makes up for any grouse Hocking’s readers may have with the first two books. It blends all elements that a book of its genre needs to have and ties them all beautifully to build a fitting climax to the trilogy.

While Torn ended with Wendy and Tove getting engaged, Ascend begins with Loki, a prominent member of the rival tribe Vittra, seeking amnesty in Forening. With her 18th birthday celebrations, her impending wedding to Tove and her subsequent coronation as the Queen of Forening all vying for her attention, Wendy has to act fast to decide on Loki. It’s a decision with the potential to change the course of her life forever.

Writing on a topic like that of trolls, with all the creative freedom that a fantasy
fiction writer enjoys, can be a double-edged sword. One could easily lose oneself in the luxuries of the uninhibited landscape of imagination and creativity that the genre provides so much so that the fiction meant for adults could end up with the sensibilities of children’s literature. But Hocking never forgets that she is writing a young adult paranormal romance book and she does this balancing act quite impressively.

Hocking keeps the action and drama taut in Ascend as the characters are led to the culminating events of the thrilling saga that unfolded in the previous two books of the trilogy. As Wendy is revealed of the more explosive truths about her father Oren, the Vittra King, she devises a plan to end his violent rule and bring the two warring troll tribes of the Trylle and the Vittra together in reconciliation and harmony. True to her fiery spirit and innate compassion, she places herself at the forefront of the battle with Oren and, as she goes about accomplishing her task, the major relationships in her life are also dramatically transformed.

Hocking brings back the romance in Ascend in all its delicateness and heartbreaking glory, an element that was missing in Torn. Wendy’s evolving bonds with the three men in her life — Finn, her first love; Tove, her husband and a dear friend; and Loki, a prince in whom she finds the love of her life, make for the most enticing aspect of Ascend. It’s not just the romantic love, but Wendy’s relationship with her mother Elora that had been anything but warm in the previous books too takes a heartwarming twist in Ascend.

As Elora’s final day draws nearer, her façade of a cold, stern woman who is more like a queen than a mother to Wendy drops and both are healed in the light of love. Hocking captures the warmth of the emotional reconnection between Wendy and Elora quite touchingly.

Hocking is a talented storyteller, blessed with an ability to paint vivid visual pictures with her words, a talent indispensable for a fantasy writer. Her words evoke rich
imagery and emotions, effortlessly making Ascend a joy to read.

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