September 28, 2010
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After being introduced, in Rampant, to not only the idea that unicorns are real, but that she's magically able (thanks to being a still-virginal, female descendant of Alexander the Great) to hunt them, Astrid Llewelyn in back in Ascendant.
Astrid, had dreams of becoming a doctor before her life got turned around by a year of unicorn hunting and training in Rome, killing that Astrid isn't sure she's cut out for. But with the number of potential new hunters dwindling--choosing to give up their eligibility--and the number of unicorns not dwindling, Astrid can't just walk away from everything.
Soon, through a string of events, Astrid finds herself with a new job, in another country, one that doesn't involve sitting in trees every night waiting for unicorns to show so that she can hunt them down. There's more to this new job and the people there than Astrid first suspects, though and at some point she's going to have to deal with it.
While Rampant was more about introducing the idea of killer unicorns, the girls training at the Cloisters, and where the idea of a bunch of virgin girls killing evil unicorns came from, Rampant's more about what that can mean. In Rampant, we know the general backstory, the characters, the setting, the mythos, now we get to know how it affects both the world at large and the psyche of the characters.
This second book does focus a lot more on Astrid specifically and her growth as a character. I really appreciated the way that the characters from the first book were most definitely not forgotten and such an important part of this book, but that the story really did focus on Astrid.
Ascendant was not as fast paced from the start as Rampant likely because it wasn't introducing killer unicorns right off the bat, but it might have been a stronger book overall because it did deal more with internal struggles and character relationships where Rampant had more action/adventure. (The last few lines of Ascendant really sum up what the first book was about and what the second was about, I think.)
I do highly, highly recommend you read Rampant first because it introduces all of the characters and the mythology behind Diana Peterfreund's killer unicorns and the unicorn hunters--and it's an amazing book. Ascendant does a fantastic job of recapping what you need to know from the first book, though--maybe better than about any other series book, I've read. Instead of leaving you with gaps that leave you wondering or summing the entire first book up in the first chapter or two, Ascendant works the relevant information into the parts of the book where it's beneficial to what's happening in the current story at that point.
Both Rampant and Ascendant are very, very much worth reading.
(thank you to the publisher for this book)