Today, during the ten minutes of independent reading I do with each of my classes, I used every second to devour the last couple of chapters of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s first book in her Ascendance Trilogy. When you are done reading this review, please drop whatever you are doing and get to the nearest book store so you can buy The False Prince. Yes. This is one of THOSE books–the kind you can’t put down; the kind you don’t want to end; the kind for which you thank your lucky stars because it is a trilogy, so there is more to come…eventually.
Carthya, a kingdom on the verge of civil war, is in the hands of Bevin Conner, a nobleman of King’s court. Conner’s solution to Carthya’s trouble is to commit the worst kind of treason for the best possible reason–to save his country. How? He will collect four orphan boys to compete for the role of Prince Jaron, the long lost son of the royal family who, after his parents send him off to further his education, is killed when pirates attacked his ship. Because his body is never found, Conner plans to bring back one of the boys as the prince, to claim the throne and keep it out of the hands of greedy regents. The novel is told from the point of view of one of the boys, Sage, who wants nothing to do with Conner’s plan, yet he knows only one boy can be prince. The others can’t be allowed to live knowing a secret that could unravel the kingdom.
Deceit, lies, and then a little more deceit and lies will keep you hooked until the final pages where the twists and turns culminate in an unforgettable ending.
Sage is great fun but also quite complex. Conner trains the boys in every aspect of acting like a true royal, from table manners to sword play, at the same time treating them like servants. Keeping them submissive means whoever becomes the prince will bend to Conner’s will, yet Sage pushes every possible button to get himself in trouble and lessen his chances of getting chosen. “He doesn’t own me,” is what Sage maintains, even at his lowest point. But won’t Conner own the prince he chooses?
I’m so sad that this book is over and even more so that I will have to wait until next year for book #2 of Nielsen’s Ascendance Trilogy, but it will be so worth the wait. Masterful storytelling and one of my favorite protagonists, The False Prince is a MUST read.
*Currently reading Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys