The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"There is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9b
I have been reading since I was four years old, and sometimes it seems I've seen it all. There are no plot twists that are new to me. This isn't always a bad thing, as there are authors who can take old, tired ideas and create something fresh and new out of them. Jennifer A. Nielsen has done this in The False Prince.
Sage is living in an orphanage when he is purchased by a noble as an indentured servant. It soon becomes apparent that his duties will not be what you might expect, however. Conner doesn't ask Sage to scrub floors or peel vegetables. He's looking for a prince. It turns out that the entire royal family has recently been poisoned; but the youngest son, Prince Jaron, was lost at sea years earlier. Conner has proof that Jaron is dead as well, but rather than share that information with anyone, he has a plan to find a new Prince Jaron, and it seems that Sage and two other boys look a lot like Jaron would now. All that remains is to see which one of the three will win the title.
Sounds like a cliché? The Prince and the Pauper comes to mind, of course. And yes, the plot does borrow from stories like that. However, there are twists and turns that I didn't see coming. I found myself grinning like an idiot as I read the "big reveal," and I often roll my eyes and sigh at those.
The characters are very real, each with their own personality and motivations. Conner, especially, is fascinating. He maintains that he is a patriot who is only trying to avoid civil war: if there is no heir to the throne, the regents will fight over which of them rules. However, his methods are suspect at best. Sage's two rivals for the position of false prince have engrossing character arcs; and Sage himself learns and grows a lot along the way.
I really enjoyed this story, and I will definitely be looking for the next book in The Ascendance Trilogy: The Runaway King.
View all my reviews