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R.A. Salvatore begins his second DemonWars trilogy with Ascendance, continuing the story of Pony, who is now Jilseponie Wyndon, the Baroness of Palmaris. This first book in the trilogy effectively sets up a new battle of good versus evil with plenty of action, political intrigue, and foes both old and new.Good King Danube, ruler of the kingdom of Honce-the-Bear, is smitten with the lovely Baroness Jilseponie and seeks to have her as his wife against the wishes of his long-time mistress and much of the royal court. While Jilseponie does care for Danube, she still suffers from the loss of her husband, Elbryan the Nightbird, and their unborn child.Unknown to Jilseponie, the child she thought dead was actually stolen and raised by elves. Despite the elves' purpose, the headstrong young Aydrian has plans of his own. Under their harsh guidance he has come to possess the fighting skill of his father and his mother's talent with gemstone magic. Every night a dark spirit whispers to him, guiding him. But is it the spirit of his father, the Nightbird, or is it something much more sinister?As Aydrian escapes the elves, he finds an unlikely ally in Jilseponie's enemy, former Bishop De'Unnero, the weretiger. Together they set about a series of events that ensure that Pony's life and the peaceful kingdom of Honce-the-Bear will never be the same again.Fans of the first DemonWars trilogy will be happy to see the continuation of Pony's story, and Ascendance effectively sets up the next trilogy with a compelling conflict not destined to be resolved until the final book. However, the villains are often more interesting than the hero, and Salvatore sometimes uses action to gloss over plotting that makes little sense. Despite its flaws, Ascendance has lively scenes, conflicted and interesting villains, and an exciting climax. Those new to DemonWars will want to begin with the first trilogy, starting with The Demon Awakens. --Kathie Huddleston
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