Welcome to my first Thursday book review! I read quite a lot being a librarian. Anything from picture books to high fiction. My personal reading habits tend to lean toward fantasy or magical realism but really, I will give anything that speaks to me a try.
Odds are there will be small spoilers but I’ll do my best to keep them at a minimum.
Today I will be reviewing The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen.
The kingdom of Carthya is on the brink of civil war as rumors of the assassination of the royal family spread rampant. Nobleman, Connor, plans to reunite his country by placing the second born prince, Jaron, on the throne. The only problem is that Jaron was lost at sea four years ago. Convinced of Jaron’s death, Connor “recruits” four orphans to play the part, including the troublesome Sage. Sage and the other boys are pinned against each other, each with their own agenda for wanting the throne. Can Sage navigate this tangled web of lies? And what will happen to him if he can’t?
The False Prince is the first book in the Ascendance Trilogy. For a first book in a trilogy, I thought Nielsen did a great job. The story had a great flow; witty dialogue and dynamic characters propelled the it forward. The book is action packed and there are twists and turns around every corner.
One of the things I loved about this book were the transformations of the characters. Even supporting characters made leaps and bounds throughout the story. You’d have a gruff thug one second and a loyal sidekick the next. Arrogant brats became trembling puppy dogs, almost without you even realizing it’s happening and yet it does and it just fits.
Mini spoiler but not really… I really do have to commend Nielsen on her handling of Sage. You knew, knew, Sage was really the prince almost the whole story. It might have been meant as a surprise but the reader suspects almost from the start. Even so, Nielsen did such a spectacular job with this reveal, revealing the layers upon layers she embedded into the story. Just really well done.
The target audience for this book would be a mature 6th through 8th grade. There was quite a bit of violence in the story but done in a very tactful way. The violence was more of a dramatic buildup than scary or gory.
I am always hesitant to continue trilogies if I am satisfied with the story as a whole. I’m often afraid the story will be overdone or dragged out. But Nielsen left me with enough questions to want to continue, which is always a great motivator. We weren’t left with these gaping cliffhangers, which can drive readers–especially young ones–crazy. We were left with gaps in the story; little alluded to nuggets of missing information, propelling the story onward.
Ultimately, I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.