Choose to lie… Or choose to die.
In a faraway land, civil war is brewing. To unify the kingdom’s divided people, a nobleman named Conner devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him on the throne. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant and clever 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. His rivals will be devising their own plots as well, so Sage must trust no one and keep his thoughts hidden.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfolds, until finally, a truth is revealed that that may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
While many orphans in Carthya would kill to have someone adopt them, Sage would much rather be a thief than go with the nobleman named Conner who has come to take him away. And he wouldn’t have gone either, if it hadn’t been for Conner’s thugs forcing him into the carriage, where there are three other boys—all of whom share similar physical characteristics with himself. As Conner’s plan is revealed, Sage learns that he must compete with the other boys to be chosen to impersonate the missing Prince Jaron. Either he becomes Conner’s false prince (committing the highest act of treason imaginable) or he fails to impress Conner and is killed, along with the other two boys not chosen.
So begins The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic Canada), a heart-pounding read from start to finish. Sage is a brilliant character! He is stubborn, smart-mouthed, foolish, and incredibly, incredibly clever. What I loved so much about Sage, and this book in general, is that you never know where you stand with Sage, the narrator; he a wizard of deception. He always has something up his sleeve (sometimes quite literally). Not only does he always keep a little something from the other characters, but he does it to the reader too—and you don’t even realize it until he has already swept the rug out from under you! He is so duplicitous and I love it! He is definitely not your typical good guy hero.
And the other characters are just as wonderful—Mott, Tobias, Roden… these guys are full of surprises! You can’t let your guard down with any of the wily characters in The False Prince—or else you might find yourself penniless or with a knife in your back. And so it is for this tricky cast of characters.
Nielsen’s medieval world is extremely well-developed, from the royal politics down to the way the different classes dress and eat. Readers will have no problem stepping into Sage’s world.
Lots of action, unforeseeable twists and memorable characters make The False Prince an excellent read for both boys and girls. I highly recommend this first book in the Ascendance Trilogy!
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4.5/5 hearts)
This book was generously provided by Scholastic in exchange for my honest review.