Borrowed from I just finished reading Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund. And I mean JUST, like literally set it aside two minutes ago, opened my laptop and started typing, just. I have that many Thoughts and Feelings about it.

Anyways. Ascendant is about killer unicorns and the superpowered, virginal, female descendents of Alexander the Great who hunt them. It’s the sequel to Rampant, which is also good and necessary for understanding wtf is going on in Ascendant.

I read Rampant a little over two years ago, and I enjoyed it. It was a fun read, but I didn’t LOVE it or anything. It’s entertaining. Peterfreund has this great version of unicorns that we don’t ever see, and the main character Astrid is kind of a badass. Plus there’s an awesome karkadaan (a giant unicorn) who totally saves the day and steals the show. Rampant is, more than anything, I think, an action adventure story. It’s all about Astrid and the other hunters dealing with the Reemergence of unicorns, which were thought to be extinct, so there are lots scenes of hunting training and then actual hunts, and that’s all cool and fun, but Ascendant really takes it to the next level.

Ascendant starts a three months after the events at the end of Rampant and deals with Astrid coming to terms with her distaste for killing unicorns. She tries to find an alternative use for her hunting powers that will help people without requiring her to kill unicorns on a regular basis, not to mention a job that doesn’t end in the possibility of death every time she goes out. She ends up with a cushy gig that she loves and that allows her to becoming familiar with a herd of captive unicorns. And she slowly begins to understand them more and more, realizing that she has to find a way to protect people from unicorns and unicorns from people.

Then tragedy strikes, and her entire world unravels. And this is where the book really REALLY grabbed me. I was enjoying everything up to this, but the ordeals Astrid goes through and the decisions she makes along the way turn this into a poignant story about finding oneself and doing the right thing.

I don’t want to give anything else away, so I’ll just say that while Ascendant is the FIRST book I have finished in 2012, there is a very good chance it will also become one of the BEST books I read in 2012. I loved it, and I just bought it from Amazon, in hardback, so I can have a matched set (also, I sort of feel like awesome, favorite books deserve a spot on my physical book shelf rather than just on my Kindle book shelf; like the physicality of the hardback book makes it more meaningful. Plus, the hard copy was cheaper than the ebook).

(Image borrowed from