Kara's Reviews > The False Prince

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
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Apr 18, 12

Read from April 14 to 18, 2012

As seen on: Bookosaur

The reader enters the Kingdom of Carthya at a time of peril and uncertainty. The royal family of Carthya has been murdered, leaving the country on the brink of war. Though Carthya has many enemies outside its borders, the greatest threat to the country lies within. Some of the Regents of the Court - the nobles who act as advisers to the king - are unsatisfied in their role as advisor, and they look upon the throne with greedy eyes. Without a royal to rule Carthya, the title of king will expectedly fall to one of them, but to agree on one person will most likely cause conflict amongst each other and an uproar within the country of Carthya. In an attempt to prevent this impending civil war, Lord Bevin Conner, one of the regents, recruits Sage - along with three other orphans - to compete for the chance to impersonate the king and queen's long-lost son, Prince Jaron, and the orphan, if believed to be Prince Jaron, will be the rightful heir to the throne.

Our first introduction to The False Prince, book number one in the Ascendance Trilogy, has us racing alongside Sage as he scrambles to outrun a cleaver-wielding butcher, all the while trying not to lose his hold on an uncooked roast that's tucked precariously under his arm. It's of no consequence that the roast is stolen or that the butcher is only trying to reclaim what is rightfully his, because right from the beginning I couldn't help but instantly fall in love with Sage. Authors take note, because THAT is how to write an introduction.

Life on the streets of Carthya has taught Sage to be quick with his hands and even quicker with his tongue, two skills that have proved valuable in order to survive not just as an orphan, but now as a pawn in Conner's game. My apologies for making a Disney reference here, but I couldn't help but think of Aladdin in the first two pages.

Sage, like Aladdin, is charismatic, silver-tongued, quick on his feet, and is what my grandpa would call a "shit disturber," which, believe it or not, is a compliment in Grandpa Fred's books. Growing up, I was often the recipient of these words, but my grandpa usually said them with a twinkle in his eye and a slight grin on his face, suggesting that not only was that a trait he valued, but also that he was most likely a shit disturber himself when he was younger (and I would argue still is to this day). Sage, by his very nature, causes trouble wherever he goes, not because he is inherently bad, but because he's got a fire in his belly and refuses to be anyone's puppet. He knows all the right buttons to push and doesn't hesitate to push them, whether to get a rise out of someone or to test the waters, whatever's necessary to survive. This characteristic of Sage, is one that I can appreciate, and, more importantly, is one that makes for an entertaining and surprising narrator.

Speaking of, Sage is the definition of an unreliable narrator. His motives are not always clear, and there are deliberate gaps or omissions in the story where the reader is not privy to all the information. There are twists and turns along the way, clues left here are there, and knowing the ending now I almost want to go back and read the entire book again because I'm sure there are many other clues that I either didn't pick up on or didn't think were relevant at the time.

I only have two qualms with this book, one minor and one obvious. The minor qualm: though Mott played a pretty big role throughout the novel, he seems to have disappeared in the last few pages of the novel; and, the obvious qualm: I have to wait how long before the next instalment?!?!

This book, my friends, is easily my favourite read of 2012 so far. Thank you to David Levithan, publisher and editorial director of Scholastic, for recommending this book in an article titled "After the post-apocalypse: What's the next Hunger Games?" for the National Post. Without which, I'm not sure when - or even if - I would have discovered The False Prince. Also, thank you to Scholastic for sending me a copy in the mail, you have appeased the devils [Note: I'm not a crazy person, the "devils" are often referred to in The False Prince].

In the above-mentioned article, Mr. Levithan compares the hype of The False Prince to that of The Hunger Games, and he is spot-on; though I would go as far to say that The False Prince is even better than The Hunger Games. Yes, I went there. It's that good.
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