03 July 2012

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

The False Prince, had, in my mind, many flaws: the writing was simple, but not elegant and there was a complete lack of setting that I couldn't really get past.  Despite these flaws, however, The False Prince was a magnificent book.  I loved the main character, Sage, with his complete inability to keep his mouth shut but also with his noble heart and courage.  The False Prince captured me.  Fans of John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series will like this trilogy.

The writing lacked elegance of any kind.  It was simple -- too simple, all telling, like it was meant to be read out loud.  The "all telling, no showing" obliterated a lot of opportunities for me as a reader to attach to Sage's character on an emotional level.  Luckily, Jennifer Nielsen has a fantastic grasp on dialogue; I was very impressed with that particular aspect.

chillin with The False Prince
If the writing lacked any elegance, the story lacked setting.  More specifically, atmosphere.  There was little to no description of the world.  I couldn't even begin to imagine what it was like.  I had no sense of it.  It's such a shame, since Jennifer Nielsen had the perfect foundation for it and it was simply never built upon.  For example, there was a phrase -- "I don't give an inch what you think" -- that gave an inkling of a deeper world, but that was all.

Another issue I had was the fact that Sage was supposed to be a fourteen-year-old boy, but most of the time, I had in mind a seventeen-year-old.  It was a bit disorienting sometimes.  Not that I think a fourteen-year-old can't act seventeen, but there was no real basis for that.

The plot was amazing -- I loved it!  I commend Jennifer Nielsen for her boldness.  I was completely hooked from the opening pages.  In particular, I liked how romance was not the order of the day.  In that aspect, the fourteen-year-old deal was believable.

Bottom-line is: I want to read on.  I can't wait for the sequel, The Runaway King.  I don't know if I can wait till next year to read it.

Then I began to play.  It wasn't a song for dancing but was instead a sad melody that had always given me images of loneliness on a forgotten beach in the night.  It was a tune that used to make my mother cry, and after a while, my father no longer played it.  After a while, he no longer played any songs at all.  But I never forgot the tune. (p. 157)
Book Info:

  • pages - hardcover, 342
  • published - April 2012
  • publisher - Scholastic
  • genre - fantasy
  • received via - library :)
  • rating - 4/5
  • series - The Ascendance Trilogy
    • The False Prince
    • The Runaway King (coming 2013)
    • Untitled #3