Hallie's Reviews > The False Princess

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
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's review
Feb 06, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: ya, fantasy, audiobook

Well. For the most part, I enjoyed this a lot more than I'd have expected, based on its being a medievalesque fantasy, involving a rightful heir(ess), and it being crucial that said rightful heiress be the one to inherit the throne. I think part of what made me like it was that the premise was just so extreme, that I thought it would be hard to go back to the standard fantasy setting of monarchy is the only proper system of governance. Although there are numerous reviews setting out that premise, I'll sketch in in briefly so what I'm saying about it makes some sense for anyone who doesn't know what happens. Nalia is a princess, and as only child of her parents, heiress to the throne of Thorvaldor. However, shortly after her 16th birthday, she's told that she isn't actually the princess at all, but a random common baby who was brought up as the princess because the king and queen had been given a prophecy that the princess would be murdered before her 16th birthday. Seriously - grab a baby, treat her as your beloved child enough to fool everyone, just so she can get knocked off instead of your real child, whom you can then produce with a "Here's one I prepared earlier" flourish. AND NOBODY WILL SAY YOU'RE CRIMINALLY HARD-HEARTED BECAUSE YOU'RE THE KING AND QUEEN. Seriously!

Anyway, poor old Nalia - now Sinda - has a rotten time, being turfed out of the castle with some money, though not a lot, and getting to see the "real princess" be greeted lovingly by parents, nobles and castle serving folk alike as she's whisked away from the city alone. That's just way harsh. Oh, and she's separated from her best friend for life, Kiernan, without even getting to say goodbye. She has to live with her only living relative, her aunt, who's a dyer in a small village, and try to learn to be useful enough to pay her way.

I enjoyed all this, but if I can say it without revealing any major spoilers, there were elements to the resolution of the story that really bothered me. Yes, Nalia found a life in which she could be valued and useful, and even find a use for the princessly training she'd received, as well as her spanking new skill. But on the other hand, things were going to improve for this wildly unjust kingdom in a way that could *only* have happened with the "rightful heir" on the throne (even though -- hmmm - that rightful heir had got the background that would enable her to improve things as a result of the baddie's actions), and that's a fairy tale trope I really dislike in fleshed-out novels. Frankly, I think a (preferably peaceful) rebellion would have done the country much more good.

That said, I liked Kiernan, and I very much liked Philantha (think that's the spelling - the problems with audiobooks!), and if Nalia herself occasionally made really rotten choices, it was fairly understandable, and she didn't get away from having to live with the guilt the consequences brought her. (But compelling Kiernan? Not nice!)
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Jamie (ReadsInTrees) Dacyczyn I preferred "The Decoy Princess" by Dawn Cook....almost the exact same premise, except way more badass and fun.

Hallie Jamie wrote: "I preferred "The Decoy Princess" by Dawn Cook....almost the exact same premise, except way more badass and fun."

I have added this! Thanks for the rec.

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