By Jennifer Nielsen
The False Prince is the first book in the Ascendance trilogy. I picked up the audiobook to listen to as I traveled for work. Narrators can help or hurt an author’s story, and luckily this narrator did a wonderful job bringing Jennifer Nielsen’s characters to life. He enhanced an already great story.
After the royal family is killed, a nobleman, Connor, creates a plan to find the king’s long lost son to prevent civil war in the kingdom. Instead of finding the real prince who everyone assumes is dead, he recruits four orphan boys who are trained and who must compete for the chance to impersonate the prince. One boy, Sage, is defiant and constantly rebels against Connor’s wishes. He knows that Connor only wants to control the fake prince. Sage doesn’t want to be a puppet, but his other option is to be killed. In Connor’s world everyone has secrets, but one secret will change everything Connor has worked toward.
Nielsen does a wonderful job setting up Connor’s false prince plan. She does an even better job using Sage to point out any flaws in the plan. It seems Sage is always one move ahead in every aspect of the story. He’s a character that knows the rules of the game, but chooses to play by his own rules.
The story line isn’t exactly sequential. Nielsen leaves gaps in the storyline and later goes back and fills them in. At first it was a little jarring. I wondered why she didn’t let readers in on information while it was occurring (examples: sword, knife, rock), but later in the story Nielsen reveals more background information about certain characters and her reasoning falls into place.
Nielsen’s writing is both simple and complex at the same time. Her style is very natural and easy, but her plot line is more intricate. She peels back the layers of Sage’s personality and life a little at a time and allows readers to better understand Sage. She also patiently sets up the story for her plot twist. Will some readers figure it out, yes, but others will be caught way off guard.
At times I loved and hated Sage. His arrogance and indifference were a bit off putting. Thankfully he has several redeeming qualities. He has a compassionate heart and honors his promises. He doesn’t take kindly to cruelty. Readers will be rooting for him to win and become the prince.
The False Prince is a wonderful family story that kids and adult can enjoy. It is a brilliantly written story filled with deceit, action, and danger. Readers who liked The Beyonders series by Brandon Mull will definitely want to read The False Prince.
I definitely want to check out the sequel, The Runaway King, when it comes out March 2013.
Check out the book trailer!