Title: The False Prince
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy (#1)
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Genre: young adult fantasy
In short: WOW. A gripping plot, great characters, and an excellent story all around. I was reeling from this one days after I finished.
Goodreads: 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 kingdom of Carthya is on the edge of war, and its royal family have been silent and absent. In these troubled times, a minor noble Conner plots to find a lookalike of the long-lost younger prince, Jaron, who was killed by a pirate attack years before. Conner wants to have his fake Jaron on the throne as a puppet, thereby unifying the country and giving him all the power. He chooses four boys from various orphanages around the country: Latamer, Roden, Tobias, and Sage, the hero of the story. The boys all vaguely resemble Jaron in some way, but looks do not a prince make! It takes two weeks of testing to make sure the boys are ready, that they’d know anything and everything Jaron would be expected to know—because if the plot was ever revealed, they could all be hanged. The catch? Of course, only one boy actually ‘becomes’ the prince, and the rest will unfortunately have to be killed for what they know. Small price to pay for an entire kingdom, says Conner.
The False Prince has pretty much everything one could want from young adult fantasy. Scheming nobles, political intrigue, a well-developed world, and fascinating characters that will have you gunning for them no matter what. The game-show element makes it all the more interesting as we watch the boys compete to be the prince—essentially, they’re competing to stay alive. And Sage, oh wow, I could wax poetic about Sage. If I ever had to pick out a book with an excellent main character, it would be this one for Sage. His voice kept my interest through the entire story, and I never lost sympathy for him. His rebellious nature and his general come-at-me-bro attitude is impossible to hate. He’s the kind of guy whose snide remarks you will laugh at, and when he does something dangerous, you’ll be the one clutching your book and hyperventilating, praying he doesn’t get caught.
Also, the plot twist! Ah. I’m not going to reveal anything about it, don’t worry. In hindsight, I probably should’ve seen it coming, but, y’know. I was enjoying the story far too much to worry about plot twists.
Such an enjoyable read! I’d definitely recommend it to any fantasy fan.