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Ascendance #2

The Runaway King

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A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive?
Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?
The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King.

331 pages, Hardcover

First published March 1, 2013

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About the author

Jennifer A. Nielsen

33 books7,251 followers
Jennifer lives at the base of a very tall mountain in Northern Utah with her husband, three children, and a naughty puppy. She loves the smell of rainy days, hot chocolate, and old books, preferably all at once. She is a former speech teacher, theater director, and enjoyed a brief but disastrous career as a door-to-door pollster. In her spare time, Jennifer tends to panic, wondering what she has forgotten to do that has allowed her any spare time.

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5 stars
19,501 (45%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,183 reviews
Profile Image for Jennifer Nielsen.
Author 33 books7,251 followers
October 6, 2013
I admit it. I'm biased. This was a lot of fun to write, and I hope you have fun reading it!

Mostly I wanted to thank those of you who have read this book and been so enthusiastic about this series. Every one of you who has picked up the book has my gratitude.
Profile Image for Mandy.
34 reviews
June 25, 2013
Just... Imogen and Jaron.

..Why this star-crossed lovers situation?! Why Jennifer Nielsen?!?!?!?!

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As if I haven't suffered enough from Percy and Annabeth at the end of The Mark of Athena. Sheesh.

Princess Amarinda is a nice young lady and all, I mean we simply cannot hate her. But come on... we all know Jaron and Imogen are MEANT to be together.

They are the couple right next to Percy and Annabeth. That's right, PERCABETH.

Now, I think Jennifer Nielsen did a wonderful job at recapturing Jaron's stubborn ignorance and short-tempered annoyance, yet his sensitive side and good heart holds true. The jokes are brilliant as usual from Jaron, it never fails to make me crack a smile.

And Roden... yes, we all agree that he was quite the annoying character, always in denial about the identity of Sage and Jaron. But as the story progresses, he will turn into a character presumed as a bad-ass in my dictionary.

I also adore Fink. In the beginning, you will immediately think this kid as the most annoying face of the planet. But he grows to be a boy that helps enlightens the dark and difficult times in Jaron's adventure with the pirates.

But I must say the tension was a lot more alive in The False Prince. The twist and turns were a lot more predictable in The Runaway King, but it is definitely a fun read.

This is the series I'm following while I wait in agonizing pain for my Heroes of Olympus to release every October of the year.
But now Imogen and Jaron have the cliche we-can't-be-together-because-our-worlds-are-different issue, I'm even more depressed.

Final book of The Ascendance Trilogy, I await you!
Profile Image for Riley.
422 reviews20.5k followers
March 25, 2016
I have so many feelings about this right now.
Profile Image for jv poore.
606 reviews196 followers
May 4, 2019
Yesterday at the baseball game I was looking for a young friend, but her mom told me that she was in the car, reading. When she joined us, I asked what she was reading and her little face lit up when she said The Runaway King. Then she told me she already couldn't wait for the final book in this series. Since it so happens that I absolutely adore this trilogy, I sent it to her this morning. Along with one other treasure by Ms. Nielsen. And I am at least as excited as she will be.
*************** ******************** *******
Before the ink was dry on my glowing review of The False Prince, (the first in the Ascendance Trilogy), I was deep into The Runaway King. This is the second book in the Ascendance Trilogy and it is absolutely everything that I hope for in a continuation.

We met King Jaron earlier, when he was Sage (aka Prince Jaron) hiding away in an orphanage. He was stubborn, argumentative….a total wise-guy, but he had a pure heart. Now, his identity established, Jaron will rule Carthya. He only needs to survive the attempts on his life and thwart the pirate invasion to do so.

On the eve of his family’s funeral, Jaron learns that he has 10 days before the Avenian pirates, supported by King Vargan, wage war on Carthya. His army simply cannot prepare to defend his country in such a short time. His only choice is to stop the invasion. Thus begins a suspenseful adventure, packed with action and intrigue.

While The Runaway King features thrilling sword fights, death-defying escape attempts and fool-hardy challenges, it also demonstrates strong-will, resolve and determination. All along his journey, Jaron is forced to evaluate the few people close to him. There are false loyalties, and they must be weeded out. Friendship needs to be re-established with Roden, the ferocious, vendetta-seeking enemy consumed by his desire to destroy Jaron. Above all, Jaron must protect those that have supported and assisted him along the way.

To me, Jaron is the ultimate character for a Middle-Grade book. Outwardly, he appears flippant, arrogant and condescending. He may truly possess and exhibit those characteristics, but they are not the ones that define the person he is. Rather, the reader gets to know a determined young man that must pursue that which is right. With a heart so pure and true, Jaron is driven to protect those he cares about and the country that he loves. He is a fine example of a true hero.

The Runaway King was just released in March, so I have no idea how long I will need to wait for the conclusion; but I am confident that, however, long; it will be worth the wait.

UPDATE: It WAS! It totally was worth the wait! The Shadow Throne could serve as a perfect example of what readers want, what we need from a conclusion. Review is coming soon!

This review was written for Buried Under Books by jv poore.
Profile Image for Masooma.
69 reviews131 followers
February 26, 2016
Right in front of you is a mouth-watering pudding which whispers promises of a guaranteed time in heaven with each bite but just as you've your first bite, you realize something is missing. You're sure tour taste buds made a mistake because looks can't be that deceiving, right? So you take another bite. This time toy realize something is definitely missing, maybe low sugar content. But you still eat because the same chef just yesterday made the best chocolate pie in the world and it's pudding after all, isn't it?

The Runaway King was exactly this for me: a pudding without the right measurement of sugar or to be precise, a book without enough adrenaline. And I read this just for my love for Sage just as I'd eat the pudding just for the sake of my love for desserts.

So what happens:

The pirates wanted my life, Vargan wanted my country, and my reagents wanted to paint rainbows over reality and claim all was well.

Bitter with the burden of a kingdom on his shoulders, the free-spirited boy-king Jaron finds himself in a tangled mess with lack of internal support, external threats and an unfavorable public pinion. In order to save the kingdom, Jaron decides to go from reckless to responsible by going to the lair of devils and in the least, reduce the threat of war from one side- the Pirates.

So what went wrong:

For one thing, when I heard of the pirates I went bananas with excitement. I knew some real awesome-ness was coming my way and given Sage's personality, it would be awesomeness with a layer of marvelous toppings.
But like they say: Never built castles in the air!

Why, I hear you say?

Because the pirates weren't as barbaric or dangerous or bonkers as you'd expect. Rather they were an organized lot with a code of conduct and laws governing their world. And the pirate king was the most tolerant, patient and inexperienced villain I've ever met!

Initially there was an expression of 'Nobody comes back from the pirates'. Now as a well-read reader, you know by experience that Jaron will come back but you'd expect it with the aid of a cunning-as-a-fox mind and the tricks of a devil.

Rather everything happened with a stroke of luck, a bunch of coincidences and teddy-bear opponents. And frankly, a bit of nonsense

There was nothing freaky or scary, no heart-hammering action, not a pinch of adrenaline and an unhealthy balance of descriptions and emotions in the writing.

Sage, you ask? What happened to my love for Sage?

Well, I was head over heels when Jaron slipped back to Sage but Sages wits weren't cunning this time around. Although is big mouth is still as much fun but his brain failed to be impressive!

Other characters were okay-ish, just the usual type. Villains were easy-peasy as if simple fried eggs instead of an elaborate lasagna. I liked Fink though, a boisterous, talkative character with a distinct style. Imogen and Amarinda stuck to their oath of being dry as bones characters.

Finally the romance. Although love with a base of friendship is the best treat a reader gets but in this case, there was no electricity zipping around. So it's painful to admit but it was disappointing. In fact, I've grown to understand that Imogen's role is just as a pawn to get to Jaron.

Overall, an average read with a few injured expectations.
Profile Image for Experiment BL626.
209 reviews353 followers
March 1, 2013
After the awesomeness that was book 1 — read my review for book here, I held high expectation for book 2. Woah did I regret doing that. Book 2 exercised my suspension of disbelief hard. Immediately, there were signs portending disappointment. Towards the ending, they bloomed like prickly weeds, and I was left with a rather bitter taste as if I literally ate a weed.

+ the protagonist
Jaron bugged me. He was rude to the people who didn’t deserve it. No, I did not care it was intended to distance and shield them from the danger of being around him. It was juvenile and short-sighted. The times when Jaron was kind, he was kind mostly to the people who didn’t deserve it. They should have been killed for the sake of his life and the relief of my great annoyance. Goodness was I annoyed! How many times does someone have to try to kill you before you accept the fact that they don’t just like you? Honestly.

I stopped thinking Jaron was clever and started seeing him in full display as a Gary Stu. The plot forced itself to portray him as clever when in reality nothing he did was actually clever but instead was reckless. He succeeded only by an incredible amount of luck. So much luck that I swear I could hear the story’s internal logic cracking like an elephant on thin ice. How Jaron overcame obstacle after obstacle, each more seemingly insurmountable than the previous, was difficult to digest.

+ Roden
For 99% of the book, I could not understand for the life of me why Jaron insisted on obtaining Roden’s loyalty when Roden did nothing to earn it. Nothing at all. Roden was homicidal towards Jaron and not to mention useless. I was waiting for Roden to die like the expendable villain that he was. What happened to Jaron and Roden towards the end left me flabbergasted and steamed. When Jaron revealed his reasons for why he wanted Roden at the end, I immediately called bullshit. Utter, utter bullshit. I seriously questioned Jaron’s competence to rule as king. Hell, I questioned his intelligence; I think all that fighting and blood loss Jaron went through obliterated some brain cells.

+ the pirates
The book spent an inordinate amount of the plot developing the bad dudes’ fearsome reputation. When the reader, via Jaron, finally met them, they turned out to be less fearsome than the countryside robbers Jaron encountered in the middle of the book. These pirates respected and protected their female servants. They adhered to a pirate’s code and kept their promises like honorable knights. They weren’t greedy as they were said to be, because if they were they would have tortured Jason until he confessed the location of the kingdom’s treasury. They were basically good guys in bad guys’ clothes who were no more bloodthirsty than the average soldier.

The only actual bad guy in the bunch was the leader of the pirates, and how things ended with him, so ridiculously contrived, made me want to slap somebody. It seriously discredited the leader as a swordmaster and cracked the plot’s internal logic some more.

+ the love triangle
I didn’t really believe there was a love triangle in book 1, but to my disgust book 2 proved me wrong. Imogen and Jaron like each other but can’t be together, because Jaron is a king and Amarinda is promised to be the king’s wife. The romance between Imogen and Jaron was about as convincing and real as a flying pig, and as terrible to read as if that flying pig shit on my head. I felt I got shit on some more when I read how the issue resolved itself.

Isn’t this book supposed to be a Middle Grade? I know I tagged it Young Adult, but the publisher list the book as Middle Grade. Love triangle in a Middle Grade? Has Young Adult been infested by a nearby genre with its laziness?

+ Amarinda
I felt really bad for Amarinda. No one wanted her. Hell, it seemed like even the series doesn’t want her. She still played an important role in book 2, but barely. As the story progressed, it was getting to look like the character was introduced in the series as an afterthought.

Book 2 never developed her beyond the tragic princess from some far away, forgettable kingdom book 1 established her to be. For all the talks about how Jaron’s kingdom was in danger and they have no allies, why did no one ever ask Amarinda’s kingdom for help? Why couldn’t Amarinda or Jaron break off the engagement? “Because the story said so” is not an answer, but that was what essentially was given. Did anyone ever bother to tell Amarinda’s kingdom that the dude she was supposed to marry, Jaron’s big brother, is dead, and Jaron is now her new fiance? If so, what did they think? Where were the political ramifications? Too many questions, and none of them answered.

Once I started examining Amarinda’s backstory, I saw how poorly it was developed. I saw the lack of a strong reason for her character. I started cynically thinking the only reason she was in the series to make for a ridiculous, shitty love triangle.

In Conclusion

I rate The Runaway King 3 stars for I liked it. Surprised? Me too. In spite of all the issues, I managed to enjoy the story...somewhat. The pacing was fast so I never had a long moment to dwell on the issues as they popped up. There was a good twist, some wrapping up of loose ends, and great progress made in the series overall. I didn’t even mind the cliffhanger ending, though half of that was due to the lowering of expectation and subsequent loss of anticipation for the next book. One thing was for sure, I wasn’t bored at least.

Fair warning. That 3 stars is provisional. I will downrate if book 3 sucks ass because how the series is overall affects my very subjective ratings. Hell, even book 1’s 5 stars rating is provisional.
Profile Image for Rachel Maniacup.
153 reviews79 followers
February 22, 2016
I've never been so happy after reading a second book in a trilogy! This series changed everything I've dreaded when reading a 2nd book because it is often times the downer,do you agree?

And now,I am telling you that this is the perfect sequel to the first book,that I found myself instantly drawn into the story as it picks up where the first one ended. And again,I loved everything in this book as the story and the adventures of the MC resumed to amaze me. If you loved SAGE in The False Prince,you'll surely love him even more here because of his braveness,strength,talent,and his cunningness or his strategic mind.

In here,new characters were introduced including the pirates and the thieves who contributed a lot in the excitement and supense of the plot.But then,the supporting characters were always the ones who bring so much in the story,particulary my favorites:Mott,Imogen,Tobias,Amarinda,
plus Fink and Harlowe.

There were heart pounding moments in this book where you would feel the panic,worry and fear for the MC,as he struggle to save his friends,his people and his country. There were times that I laughed out loud to some of Sage's amazing dialogues.And there were moments that I really cried because the author incredibly created a wonderful friendship in this sequel.
So yes! Jennifer A. Nielsen has done it again! You got to start reading this series now!^^

To my friends who recommended this series to me,I'll be forever thankful to you PANG,MUSE-IC,MASOOMA,and ALAFIYA .You may also check their awesome reviews!^^
Profile Image for Joy Calle Martinez.
Author 7 books58 followers
June 9, 2022
I loved this one even more than The False Prince!

What I loved most about TRK was that you can really see, in this book, how Jaron really does have a caring heart under all his arrogance. He is very flawed, but he would do anything for his kingdom, and he's self-sacrificial and courageous. There's a lot we can learn from him, even if there's a lot about him that isn't worthy of imitation. XD
Profile Image for Lily - Books by Starlight.
387 reviews176 followers
October 19, 2021
4.5 stars!

(Random fact: Did you know that this book was originally going to be called The Pirate King?)

I loved this book nearly as much as TFP! I'm definitely going to finish the series, my biggest complaint is just that it felt a little dragged out throughout. It's not that I don't appreciate the action (I really, really do), but I was surprised that the entire book took place in the span of only two weeks! I know book 1 was like that too but that one didn't feel dragged out at all.

But other than that, I really enjoyed this one! It's full of action, pirates, swordplay, and traitorsssss! See how Jaron gets out of this one!
Profile Image for Madison ♡.
113 reviews
March 22, 2013
Curse you Jennifer A. Nielsen. Curse you for ripping out my heart and stepping on it and making me die a sad, bookless death. Ugh.
Like, seriously.
Okay, let's start with characters. Roden actually showed dimension! We didn't see much of Tobias, but I liked him when I read about him. Let's just say this: WHY DO ALL MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS BECOME EVIL OR DIE? Good thing my favorite character decided to be awesome in the end.
Now, in my review for The False Prince, I said I was nervous about the love triangle thing that would happen in this book. I am so glad to say that I had nothing to worry about. The romance was minimal. Small spoiler, though it is sort of obvious... [spoilers removed].
Anyway, not much romance. Mostly just action and awesome and sweet glory. We don't see much of Amarinda, but I love reading it when she's in there. The nice friendship between Jaron and Amarinda is amazing, especially since they are meant to be married to each other. They both have small reasons to not love each other, but come to a mutual agreement, and I LOVE THEM.
But seriously, this book isn't about who should end up with who.
I actually liked this book more than The False Prince, which is saying something. Most of the time, second books aren't better than first. In my opinion, this was. Because there were [spoilers removed].
Okay, so, I probably shouldn't say this, but I feel like a love triangle will actually be prominent in the third book, just because the ending hints at it a lot.
I really like Amarinda and Imogen. Two of the most amazing female characters ever. Imogen does do what most typical YA female characters do (which is do the opposite of what they're told to do), but she actually apologizes for her mistakes. AND she actually had a reason to go against Jaron's orders. Sigh. Imogen and Amarinda are so perfect.
Roden was awesome. I was surprised at how much he changed from the first book. Luckily common sense stole him. Good, because he's awesome.
Jaron is amazing, as always. I love--LOVE--his sarcastic tone. He goes through a LOT in this book, but he always keeps that sarcasm. He thinks things through, but doesn't hint at thinking them through, if that makes sense.
So yeah. This book, The Runaway King, is amazing and flawless. Not much trouble with pacing at all. Seriously, this series stole my soul. I have to wait over a year to get the third book and this book left off with such an awful cliffhanger! I was scared to finish the book because I knew a cliffhanger would happen and it did.
So curse you Jennifer A. Nielsen. Curse you for writing such an amazing book. And curse you for making me wait to read the next installment. Curse you for making me read this book instead of doing homework. And lastly, curse you for making me fall in love with yet another fictional character.
Thanks for writing an awesome book. Can't wait for the next one.
Now it's time to hibernate until the next book comes out.
Profile Image for Alafiya.
53 reviews279 followers
February 9, 2016
P a t h e t i c.

Guys, I have a white flying unicorn. A flying unicorn that vomits ice-cream and is glittery. When it farts a genie appears that grants wishes.
Do you believe me? Prolly not. I don't believe me either. But nice thought, eh? Exactly like this book. All sorts of unrealistic things happened in this book but somehow I liked it enough to give it three stars.

In this second instalment King Jaron is attacked. Not with affectionate hugs or something like that (pun intended) but an attempt at assassinating him is made which forces him to desert his kingdom in order to save it. Also war is coming. How will Jaron outwit the devils with that little brain and large mouth of his? Or will he die trying to use his brain? Will he return to his kingdom? The synopsis makes this book sound too awesome. But compared to The False Prince this book is... *sighs* uncool.

The plot was a mess. Like the author didn't know what to do next and everything that happened in favour of Jaron was pure glittery unicorn-y luck. Seriously, no logic at all. Jaron was adamant in proving what a schmuck he was. Everything was too convenient. The villain was like cotton candy. All of the villains were like cotton candy. There was flat romance. I'd rather have none than flat romance. Jaron acted like a fool. Everyone did. Made me come to this conclusion: It's not that Jaron is impressive, it's that every other character in this book is too unimpressive. There were too many eye-roll moments (you can find them in the spoiler) Rest, the writing was beautiful and the dialogues were as awesome as they were in book 1. Somehow I enjoyed it a bit though nothing made any sense and man, I am so disappointed.

Now welcome to the spoiler-y part, here you'll find few of the things that had me rolling my eyes.

*clenches her jaw and walks out*
Profile Image for Ethan the Bibliophile.
85 reviews11 followers
June 22, 2022
I literally don't know what I liked about this book.

It was good though - there were pirates, new friendships, more romance, and the character arc began to build more. That and I began to appreciate Nielsen's writing style a lot more.

Fink. That's that. Plainly. Yep. I loved Fink.

This book wasn't amazing, though. One thing I've noticed from this book and the last is that the author tends to spend a lot of time in one spot (Conner's estate in the first book and the pirate camp in this book) without really getting anywhere. It just seams kind of pointless and endless.

Harlowe is also such a chief. Loved him.

I did really like the thievery-kinda feel to it within the first hundred pages. One thing that this book did really well was taking a bunch of different stories, places, and adventures (all within different times) and packing them together nicely.

Also also also, I didn't completely hate Jaron in this book. He made a lot of sad decisions, but they were neseccary, which is a little better.

And of course, you all that have been following my updates and previous reviews know that I love My Little Fruit Snack. If I were to have any fictional mentor......... well, to be honest, it would definitely be Dumbledore... but My Little Fruit Snack is definitely high up on that list. I love My Little Fruit Snack.

In the end, I enjoyed this book. I don't think it was necessarily much better than book one, but I also wouldn't say it was worse. It might not have been as good, but they're close enough that I'll say I liked them just the same. I also think I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, which is always sweet. Nielsen did an amazing job with this one, so props to her.

Looking forward to the next one :)) (which will probably take me like a century to get to but idrc bc I'll get there when I get there and I'll enjoy it all the same as if I read it tomorrow... :))))

Thanks for reading, if you stayed to the end.

Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,573 reviews1,462 followers
August 24, 2015
The False prince was a fast and fun tale that had a nice twist at the end that made the book all the more enjoyable. While I liked the Runaway King it didn’t quite capture the same feel as the first book. Sage now Jaron is King of a land on the brink of war. But he isn’t quite the same boy, he is a little bit snarky with everyone around him to the point that it is almost annoying and slightly whiney. But I guess I might be a little hostile is someone tried to assassinate me in the very first chapter.

Jaron isn’t sure who is really on his side and who is plotting against him. He seems to be getting mixed signals from everyone at this point. The only thing he seems to know for sure is that someone wants him dead. Jaron made some classic MG moves and not much of the story seemed to be surprising. I am an adult though so I think I caught a lot of the hints early on.

I had more fun with the story once Jaron went back to being Sage and ran away to try and figure out how to stall the war. He was back to his mischievous self and causing trouble for everyone he met. There are a few new characters Fink being the most fun and possibly a younger version of our Sage in some ways. Street rat to the max he has a tender heart and just wants to find his place in the world too. While they have a rough start I like how Sage feels almost responsible for him later, almost like a big brother.

Imogen is still one of my favorite characters in the series as she is so loyal and always there to help Sage get out of the terrible trouble he gets himself into. But the ending leaves it very up in the air as to how her story arc will ultimately play out.

I’d like to get a chance to actually see Jaron as King and how he deals with pulling his country together for a war. I’m also very interested in the dynamic between Imogen Jaron and Amaranth and how the relationship aspect of the story will all work out.
Profile Image for Rachel Reads Ravenously.
1,787 reviews2,130 followers
August 29, 2019
3.5 stars

“Everyone gets scared at times. It's only the fools who won't admit it.”

The Runaway King picks up quickly where The False Prince left off. Sage revealed himself to be Prince Jaron in hiding all along and he is crowned king. When threats from other countries become a fast issue, Jaron must risk everything to save this country and his people. And that’s all I will say from here…

“Above all else, I think that you are a compulsive liar."
My laughter was tense, but sincere. “Hardly. In fact, I consider myself a compulsive truth teller. It's only that everyone else seems compelled to misunderstand me.”

I didn’t like this book as much as the first book, I actually found myself putting it down and choosing to do other things instead. It definitely picked back up in the second half and that’s what saved the book for me. I like Jaron so much as a narrator and a protagonist, he has this wonderful, wry sense of humor. I like that despite being a troublemaker he wants the best for his country and his people and is willing to put everything on the line for him.

Definitely going to read the last book. A very solid tween series.

“The pirates wanted my life, Vargen wanted my country, and my regents wanted to paint rainbows over reality and claim all was well.”

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Profile Image for SoulLegend118.
48 reviews15 followers
February 1, 2022
When I read amazing five-star books, I expect the sequel to be good, but most of the time, they're nothing compared to the first. This was an exception. For sure. Any day. This was...

THE RUNAWAY KING!!!!!!!!!!! HIP, HIP, HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

K, k, got that out. Good. Now breathe, Shay, breathe....

I love Jarogen. I love Jaron's amazing tactics, and the hilarious way he can handle things. I love how he was still sarcastic and sassy, even knowing that the more he was hated the more likely he would be killed.

But no one can kill Jaron.

Not even Roden.

......who he talked out (Jaron's good at talking) of being his enemy and turned him into a friend. I loved that part— totally didn't cry.

But, (I even surprised myself) my favorite character was hands-down....... Fink. Yes, I admit it. The annoying, talkative kid that I just grew to love.

Minus the pet rat.

503 reviews142 followers
May 1, 2013
Flashback to 2012: The False Prince was coming out, and I really, really wanted to read it.  It had been a long time since I'd been so excited for the release of a non-sequel book.  And when I finally read it, it was awesome.  Not five-stars awesome, but pretty close. 

And then this book happened.  It's rare for a sequel to improve on its predecessor, but Jennifer Nielson pulled it off.  I applaud her for that.  At this rate, the finale of this series will be utterly fabulous.

This book is just so much fun.  It's just a sheer pleasure to read.  I'm not entirely sure what designates a book as "fun"--a good book is not necessarily fun, but a fun book is always goodThe Marbury Lens or The Giver, for example, are excellent books, but they don't have this element of fun to them.  Part of the appeal, I think, is that no matter how intense this book gets, it never forgets to lighten up every so often.  It can make you smile.  It's a swashbuckling (and yes, there are pirates, so I am absolutely allowed to call it "swashbuckling") adventure with plenty of witty dialogue.

All of this would have easily earned this book four stars.  And yet, I'm giving it five.  Here's why, in one word:


It's been a long time since I loved a main character this much.  Part of it, I think, is the fact that he reminds me of my own main character, more so than any other character I've read about before.  He has a very similar situation in life to my MC, so that makes him easy for me to like. 

Also, he can be hilarious when he gets going. 
Jaron: "I want the [sword] I came here with."
Pirate: "Why that one?"
Jaron: "The stones in the handle match my eyes."

Oh, Jaron.  So quirky, and yet...there is some awesome depth to him.  The author did not skimp on her character development, that's for sure.  Another part of the reason why I love him so much is that he spouts all these one-liners because a) it's just who he is and b) I think he wants to cover something up.  He's had to go through some tough things, and these experiences take their toll.  Smart-aleck is his coping method.  Jennifer Nielson does a wonderful job ensuring that all of these emotions get through to the reader. 

And, as always, there's an element of "I just like this character because reasons."  You can't pinpoint exactly why you like them, or what you like about them, but you love them all the same.  And Jaron is totally the kind of character where I would like to pull him out of his book and hang out with him, because he's just awesome.

I loved this book.  It sits in that no-man's land between middle grade and young adult.  Well, I shouldn't call it a no-man's land, because I'm rather fond of it.  Anyway, though, it fits into that, er, spot, but it would definitely appeal to older YA readers.  You're never too old for some MG, or this fabulous book. 

Five stars because Jaron.  And the rest of it, too.

Similar Books: It has a very similar premise to Falling Kingdoms, has a plucky young teenage boy hero like the Ranger's Apprentice books, and feels similar to The Girl of Fire and ThornsIt would be a fabulous read for someone who likes high fantasy of this sort but is too young for (or who just wants something tamer than) A Game of Thrones.

Read more of my reviews at The Epic, the Awesome, and the Random.
Profile Image for Prabhjot Kaur (Away).
1,030 reviews134 followers
February 20, 2021
The Runaway King starts just after the events of first book. Our too clever Sage turned out to be the lost Prince Jaron and he's the King now. But sometimes one needs to make sacrifices to keep the kingdom and it's people intact.

Jaron gets attacked and has to flee his kingdom in order to save it and secure allies. Jaron goes to fight the pirates so that they don't make any more attempts to assassinate him. He gets help from few people including Imogen.

I'd say that while this book was a good read, it lacked the pace and cleverness of the first book. It dragged in a lot of parts and I was a little disappointed at the lack of any more surprises.

3.5 - 4 stars
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Connor.
681 reviews1,656 followers
February 11, 2016
That was incredible! Truly. The beginning was a little slow, but once it got going, I was so hooked. This book has such a mixed bag for what my friends on goodreads end up rating it, but I thought it was amazing. I loved the additional characters. I loved the old characters. I loved the plot and the direction the story is going. I just loved it.
Profile Image for Joey.
219 reviews81 followers
May 2, 2020
To be honest, I didn’t like this one as much as the first. Don’t get me wrong, it was really good, I just didn’t like it as much. I considered something closer to 3 or 3.5 stars but that still didn’t feel right. So I decided on 4, which is the same rating I gave the first, which is why I had to clarify.

Anyway! Enough pointless ranting!


PIRAAAAATES. I love pirates. Just eeek. Enough said.

The writing. It’s Jennifer Nielsen so I love it. Enough said.

The conflict! I felt like the conflict in this one was better than the first but I liked the characters better in the first, for various reasons.

Jaron. And Amarinda. Unpopular opinion here, but I honestly like Amarinda a lot more than Imogen. Imogen can honestly be a little annoying. At times.

Honestly Roden was really cool? Even when he was like... being bad? Idk

Can we just talk about how this is clean ya with almost no emphasis on romance? And it’s medieval? That’s almost unheard of. And it’s soooooo refreshing I can’t even right now. It’s like taking a vacation 😂


There were a few nagging things...

NO TRUST. NONE. NADA. It was a little annoying that none of the characters could trust each other??? And no one told anyone else anything. It was just kind of like... EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF AGHHH
I think that played into the drama I guess 🤷‍♂️

All the characters could be annoying (to some extent) at different times. Including Jaron. And Tobias. And Roden. And Mott. And IMOGEN UGHH (Sorry not a fan)

Hmmm, I know a lot of people will disagree and I know a lot of people actually liked this but I wasn’t a huge fan of how Jaron took Roden back? Like? Okay? Why tho? Ironically Roden was one of my favorite characters, but it still didn’t quite feel right... just me? Yeahhhh probably 😂

But yeah! That’s basically it! There is mild violence btw

Happy reading guys!
Profile Image for Gavin.
849 reviews384 followers
August 21, 2015
This was of a similar quality to the first book in the series. It was a fast paced and fun read even if it does not have the most complex of plots. This is a book aimed at younger readers so the heroes a heroes and the villains are villains! Despite that the characters are a likeable and interesting bunch and the plot held my attention.

The story picks up where things ended in The False Prince with Jaron now being crowned King. Unfortunately for Jaron this is just the start of his problems as neighbouring countries sense a weakness, the pirates that tried to assassinate him as a child resurface and are determine to finish the job, and Jaron's own regents are trying to usurp his leadership. Luckily for Jaron he has a few old friends like Mott, Imogen and Tobias to help him deal with his growing list of problems!

This was an enjoyable read and the story ended on a bit of a cliffhanger so the third book should be exciting.

Rating : 3.5 stars

Audio Note: This was narrated well by Charlie McWade. He is a good fit for Jaron and seems to get the tone of the story.
Profile Image for Winter.
273 reviews46 followers
April 1, 2022

*Why is it that these "kids" are a thousand times more mature than the "almost adults" in YA and even some of the adults in fiction.😂😅😭
Profile Image for Alice.
229 reviews43 followers
January 21, 2018
3* dnf: 228/331 (Just read the first book which is amazing.)

I quit in the middle of this a few months ago. I thought I was being unfair so I got it again from the library a few days ago. Turns out past me was right. This does suck ass. The first book is amazing read that instead.

Edit to this review a few months later:
The main character Sage is annoying in this one. He just seems reckless and arrogant and not so awesome anymore. There was a point where I literally could not push myself to read any farther. There were some cool parts, but a lot of boring parts too. The little bit of romance is not very shippable at all.
Profile Image for R.F. Gammon.
457 reviews171 followers
July 30, 2018
Fun and emotional, basically. I need the third one pronto. *weeps* *laughs* *dies*
Profile Image for Jeff.
115 reviews503 followers
January 11, 2016
3.5-4 stars. It was a slow read for awhile, the first half of the book seemed to drag on a bit. However it's a quick read and the last 100 pages or so definitely make up for the previous 200. I really think this is another example of second book syndrome, it just didn't come close to being as good as the false prince, and kind of left me feeling like I wanted more. (which is a good thing in a trilogy I guess?) I mean it's still a really good book and I'm super excited for the third, so it succeeded in that aspect but I just could have gone for some more substance. I feel like the plot line in this one just kind of came about too easily. Anyway definitely recommend it as the story overall between the two novels is fantastic, and I love the characters! Looking forward to the next!
March 22, 2013
Such a disappointment. It was deadly dull and lacking in much intrigue, and a huge letdown after the first book. Book one was wonderful, I was completely absorbed in the plotting and the competition, and the strays were interesting characters themselves. The scheming and plots that made the first book great were lacking here, I felt, and this was a chore to finish. Jaron and Roden bugged me so much. I hated their relationship. I also felt that Jaron made some decisions that were completely lacking in common sense here. A wise king, he is not. If there's a third book, I'm not reading it. What a letdown.
Profile Image for TL .
1,764 reviews35 followers
June 12, 2015
Buddyread with the lovely Melissa starting on the 14th :)

Tried but this one, for me anyway.... failed to live up to the charm of the first book. It started off okay but I got frustrated with some of the writing and decisions Jaron made. It did start to get more interesting once Jaron's plan came into being but by then I just couldn't anymore.

Aah well, on to the next
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