2013 · 5 stars · fantasy · mg · ya

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Title: The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy #1)
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen (twitterwebsite)
Pub. Date: April 1, 2012
Source: Library (BUYING SOON ♥)
Summary: In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, MG, FABULOUS

Guys. GUYS. This book. I initially planned on writing an open love letter to it in celebration of Valentines Day, but I couldn’t get my thoughts together in any coherent manner and, quite frankly, I still have my doubts now.

Everyone has heard of The False Prince by now, the book that took the MG/YA world by storm last year. AND FOR GOOD REASON! I tend to shy away from hype; in the past I’ve caved in and read books that were hailed as the Second Coming only to be horribly and utterly let down (Divergent, I’m looking at you, dear). So, naturally, when so many bloggers started gushing over The False Prince, I took note and backed away.

A few weeks ago I received an ARC of The Runaway King, the second book in the trilogy, and decided to put all reservations aside and finally (FINALLY!) read everyone’s favorite book of 2012.

I wish someone would have forced this book upon me sooner.

Conner said he would let the devils have his soul if it meant succeeding with his plan. I had the feeling that when he did, the souls of all the rest of us would go to the devils too.

Sage is a sharp-witted, thieving 14-year old orphan. Life doesn’t get much worse for children of his status, but he makes the best of it. One day a nobleman by the name of Conner arrives at the orphanage and pays a generous – overly generous as far as he’s concerned – sum for Sage and soon the boy finds himself in the back of a wagon along with three other boys his age.

Conner is secretive and strict with his rules, but eventually he announces his plans to the boys: The royal family has been murdered, but for now, word hasn’t gotten out. Certain members of the court are very eager to take the throne for themselves, including Conner. The boys will have two weeks to go from orphan to gentleman and the boy he chooses will be presented to the court as Prince Jaron, long thought to have been slain by a band of pirates. The other boys… Well, they’re orphans with no family or friends to miss them and Conner wouldn’t want to risk the secret slipping.

The boys are taken to Conner’s manor and for the first time have a real bed with nice thick blankets, warm clothes, and a hot meal. Not to mention a bath. Sage’s first wasn’t deemed sufficient and his servant had to scrub him down a second time. Ha! Over the next few weeks the boys will be taught manners – including how not to hold a spoon like a shovel, swordsmanship, horseback riding skills, and reading. They’ll also be constantly drilled on the court and key members.

Over time, strengths and weaknesses appear in each boy and the desire – and need – to win takes precedence over all.

“You have a clever tongue and an arrogant tilt to your head. I’m surprised Mrs. Tutbeldy hasn’t beaten it out of you.”
“You mustn’t blame her. She beat me the best she could.”

Let’s pause for a moment and discuss Sage. I. Loved. Him. Not only was he the best character I’ve read all year, but he’s hands-down one of the best-written characters I’ve ever read (and I certainly don’t hand out praise like that lightly!). For once there’s a character who is as far away from cardboard cut-out as you can get! He’s so lovable and funny and arrogant and stubborn and scared and worried. He has his flaws and he knows it.

As sad as it is, it’s become apparent to me that not a lot of YA authors these days care about character growth. Instead they rely on stock personalities and assign traits: there’s a Mean Girl, the Boy Who Has Always Been The Best Friend But Secretly Wants More, the Hot Mysterious New Boy. That’s not the case with The False Prince. Sure you’ve got your good guys and villains, but they have reasons for being who they are.

He whispered something under his breath. I’m sure some sort of curse aimed at me. That wasn’t a problem. The devils were used to receiving curses with my name on them.

There were numerous plot twists sprinkled throughout this novel, some I had anticipated and some I didn’t see coming at all. The False Prince surprised me and enchanted me and the only reason I didn’t finish this book in a sitting was because I wanted to spend as much time with it as I could. Also, it’s only because I’m a kindhearted, sweet girl that I dragged myself to the library and begrudgingly handed it back when it was due. Since working in a used bookstore where I get an INCREDIBLE discount I haven’t been going to bookstores like B&N to shell out $35 for a new hardback when I could be patient and get one for a few dollars. But with The False Prince I’m more than willing.

This is a novel I want to read again and again and save for my future children to love.

In short, Ms. Nielsen, I apologize for being as stubborn as Sage and refusing to read this book until nearly a year later. I loved everything about it and have forced it upon countless people already.


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