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The Hostage Prince

(The Seelie Wars #1)

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  375 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Lowly midwife apprentice orange-hair Snail, one eye blue, one green, and snobby hostage Seelie Prince Aspen are on the run from Unseelie and Seelie rulers calling down death. Is old drow Jack Daw a friend or foe? Will three questions from Sticksman be the promised favor Aspen cannot keep? Monsters pursue through Unseelie Castle, Unseelie Lands, Shifting Lands.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 13th 2013 by Viking Books for Young Readers (first published June 2013)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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Ethan Chippas
The Hostage Prince by Jane Yolen is a fantasy adventure novel following a clumsy apprentice and a hostage prince who lives in a kingdom full of monsters and harsh rule. It follows the unlikely pair as they shift their situation from unpleasant to running from the king's guards. It is a decent book that does a good job of laying the foundation for the rest of the series. It is not boring as it contains plenty of action and excitement from running into different monsters or being closely pursued. ...more
Miss Clark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samma Lynne
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-high, kids, magic
Grr. My kittens ate my first review. So let me sum up.

*Lot of things I loved that got muddled in lots of things that I just couldn't grasp or with which I got bored.

*Spent equal amounts of time loving and hating the main characters. Didn't love the not-main-characters until the ones that started appearing in the Shifting Lands and beyond. Except I kind of liked Jack Daw. Sometimes. And the Stickman.

*I am actually insanely excited about the next book because most of the parts I loved the most we
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a very odd children's book. Knowing the superb ability of Yolen to write fantasy and folklore, I really looked forward to this book, but I was disappointed. The plot was immensely slow, the characters uninspiring, and the whole book reads like a prologue to what must come afterward....and prologues aren't usually book-length.

I finished it, but really lost incentive about 1/2 way through.
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be a little bit simpler than some of Jane Yolen's other books, but it was written for younger readers, unlike the YA books of hers that I usually read. I loved it though, it had the same clear/clean language and pure storytelling power that I have come to enjoy from these authors. I would recommend it to anyone, especially parents reading to their young children.
May 21, 2015 rated it liked it
***Possible spoilers***

The entire book could be simplified to this: Prince Aspen does something foolish, getting himself (and Snail) into trouble. Snail does something clever (or just lucky), averting disaster. Repeat.

Overall, this was actually a decent story for a children's book. It was just rather annoying to see the same pattern over and over again.
Mar 09, 2015 rated it liked it
I would actually give this book 3.5 stars. Fast pace, lots of action, should be a strong start to the trilogy. The only thing I felt could have improved were the main characters and their relationship. Needs more work making them seem like companions.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
I almost did not finish this book. I found the plot boring, with too many things happening that weren't explained clearly. The reader shouldn't be given everything on a silver platter, but there should at least be some hint to explain why characters say/do certain things (the insistence on Snail asking Aspen to ask Jack Daw something three times is due to the idea that asking a fairy creature something three times means they need to answer truthfully, but this is never explained). This is the th ...more
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
The Hostage Prince was a good book though probably a bit below my reading level. I won't hold that against it since I knew that going in. I had figured out the twist well before it happened and the writing style was a bit confusing sometimes- giving extensive background information in the middle of dialogue- but aside from this it was an intriguing book with likeable characters and a world that is easy to understand.
Loretta Marchize
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! It was actually pretty good. I just picked it up from the school library and wasn't expecting a ton. Anyways, I'm going to see if I can find the rest of the series. It was a little confusing at times, but I enjoyed the characters. That was certainly a strong point to the authors.
More of a middle school novel, not really any content. Mentions of birth, as the girl is a midwife's assistant. Also mentions of death, but not really any actual death.
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
I think my 11 yo enjoyed this one more than I did. I like many of Yolen's books but this one just didn't ever grab me. I'm not planning to read the next one and my daughter hasn't asked that we read it either, so that may say something...
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is a little slow, but I really like the characters and plot. I hope that the next book has a little bit more action.
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it
A bad case for of reader/book mismatch. But I would have loved it as a kid.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the entire series. It is written for a younger audience.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This was quite a slight novel...and more like a first chapter than a first book. Aimed at middle school? But I enjoy anything written by the Yolens/Stemple.
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book! Loved the story!
Mar 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Couldn't get into it - will try again when I'm not so busy.
Jaina Rose
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blogged
This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

Honestly, just look at that cover. Does this look like a good book to you? Snail's leggings are truly hideous, and Aspen . . . well, he kind of looks like a girl. Which is kind of ironic, thinking after having read the second book.

Yeah, I've already read the second book as well. Because while The Hostage Prince looks very mediocre from the cover, it's actually really, really good. My mother, who also read it, was willing to make a special
KidsFiction Teton County Library

Chris’ Rating: 3.5 Stars
Aspen, a Seelie Prince is being held hostage by the Unseelies, while an Unseelie prince is being kept at the Seelie court, in order to prevent war from breaking out between the two fae nations. Snail, a clumsy apprentice midwife is prepared to assist with the birth of the Unseelie queen’s next child, should they be the chosen midwives. When the only person Aspen considers to be his friend tells him that war is on the wind (and as such the hostage prin
Sep 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Cute children's story about discovering who is and isn't your friend.
Possibly the start of a fun adventure, but I can't tell yet.
I read the two sequels. Okay, but not worth my time.
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found this book almost on accident after browsing through a bookstore, I was on my way out and this gem caught my eye. The Hostage Prince has a little of everything I love, underdogs, royalty, the fey, and most of all the set up for a really great story.

The Hostage Prince focuses on Snail, a midwife's apprentice in the Unseelie castle and her companion Prince Aspen a Seelie prince held hostage to prevent the two sides from going to war. The story opens up with the castle getting ready for the
Sharon Skinner
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 A good MG read. I really like the inclusion of odd characters like Jack Daw and the Sticksman. Had a little trouble connecting with the main characters, but Snail, especially, really grew on me. World-building is well-done. I would not want to spend time in the Unseelie kingdom. Plenty of conflict. Good story telling, but a little slow in places.
An Odd1
Dangerous, sharp knives. Would like more if not sequel required. Midwife apprentice Snail and Seelie Prince Aspen survive escape through Unseelie Castle, Unseelie Lands, Shifting Lands. In Seelie Lands, Seelie King wants to kill his youngest son, and dubs old drow Jack Draw an enemy, the only one Aspen thought was a friend. (view spoiler) On front cover, Snail should have one eye blue, one green. Only descriptio ...more
I think Snail's appearance on the cover looks much like Alice Liddel, at least her costume does. I like her spunky spirit, the way she doesn't grovel for people at any time, unless it's sarcastically. The prince is quick on his feet for the most part, but can be very pompous. He's used to an unporportional amount of respect from people that don't know him, and even in the face of danger he complains about it like a whiny child. I understand that he's royalty so that's expected, but it still irks ...more
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I found this interesting but not quite what I expected. I love that Snail and Aspen grow and mature so much on their unexpected trip together, and it was nice that Yolen and Stemple didn't bring romance into the picture. I have nothing against teen romance, but it's overdone and I think it's nice to see characters just be friends once in a while. There were some really creatively inspired ideas in The Hostage Prince, such as the shifting forest between the Seelie and Unseelie lands, as well as t ...more
Ryan Borden
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book has plenty of mid evil action packed, roller coaster adventure. It starts off when the Queen is going to have a baby. Snail is of the midwife apprentice, however is not considered loyal at all. In addition, she is also immensely sluggish (hence the name Snail). On the other hand, there is also the mighty Prince Aspen, who has a rather complicated relationship with his father. So because of these hardships that Snail and Prince Aspen face, they go on a deadly quest also accompanied by a ...more
Vernon Area Public Library KIDS
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: grade 4-grade 8
A delightful tale of fairies, underlings, trolls, royalty, and magic. There are two types of fairy courts: the Seelie and the Unseelie. In order to prevent war, both sides agree to take one member of the opposing royal Court as a hostage into their own kingdoms. Prince Aspen (of the Seelie Court) becomes a hostage in the Unseelie Court. Snail is a quick-thinking apprentice midwife with a brazen glare who also lives in the Unseelie Court. Their paths collide when they both try to run away for the ...more
Anne Hamilton
May 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: children, fantasy
A great idea but very slow-moving. The dialogue exchanges meant to build up to a witticism lost power because they seemed just too long.

The opening chapter takes us through Snail's waking up routine. It deserved a paragraph at most. The characters were likeable but seemed strangely distant. Their thoughts almost seemed 'acted' - as if they weren't so much real thoughts but those the character thought they were supposed to think.

All this said, it was a neat and nifty plot. The twists and turns w
Feb 23, 2015 added it
I needed to read something that was the exact opposite of work, so I went with this.

And it surprised me.

Which is awesome :)

I was looking for something easy to read, but several of the characters challenged me; I couldn't decide if I liked them or not, which was an interesting experience for me. Also? The ending took me by surprise, which is quite rare.

I expected this plot to follow familiar paths and take me to a predictable ending. To some degree it did the former, it did not do the latter. (vi
Brandy Painter
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
The Hostage Prince is about the ever lasting feud between the Seelie and Unseelie courts. A Seelie prince and an Unseelie girl team up to escape what they both think are their certain deaths. The story, which is not very long, took a long time to get started. There is a lot of action, but none of it feels like it is going anywhere for a long time. The characters aren't well developed. I really liked them by the end but at the point it was a little too late. It is a quick read with a lot of adven ...more
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more

Other books in the series

The Seelie Wars (3 books)
  • The Last Changeling (The Seelie Wars, #2)
  • The Seelie King's War (The Seelie Wars, #3)

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