The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

It will be difficult to talk about The False Prince, first book in the Ascendance Trilogy, without spoilers, and this one is a book you probably won’t want spoiled. So if you haven’t read it, I recommend it. You can come back and read my review, if you want, after you read the book. Then we can discuss in the comments.

Sage is an orphan boy, and the book begins in the midst of an episode of roast-theft. I was hooked from the beginning when Sage thinks, “It happens to be very difficult to hold a chunk of raw meat while running. More slippery than I’d anticipated. . . I vowed to remember to get the meat wrapped next time. Then steal it.”

Our resourceful and inventive orphan boy soon becomes the purchased servant of a man named Conner, who turns out to be both a cold-blooded murderer and perhaps a patriot. Conner wants to use one of the four orphan boys he has acquired from various orphanages to save the kingdom of Carthya from civil war or takeover by a hostile neighboring kingdom. But after he chooses one boy to be his false prince, what will happen to the others? In light of Conner’s ruthless character, it can’t be good.

I thought Sage was a wonderfully well-developed, feisty, and surprising character. I guessed that he would turn out to be the real prince, but I couldn’t ever figure out how it would be possible since he had such vivid memories of his real parents. There were a couple of relatively minor plot points that I couldn’t figure out:

Why was Mott, a good guy, working for Conner, a real baddie? Why didn’t Mott quit after Conner murdered a defenseless boy?

Why did the King think it would be safer for Sage to hide in an orphanage than to be protected in the castle? And how did the King justify lying to his wife and telling her that Jaren was dead?

Why didn’t Conner have someone ready immediately to take the throne before the death of King Eckbert, Queen Erin, and Prince Darius? Why wait until afterwards to train a boy to impersonate Jarin?

Anyway, I really liked The False Prince in spite of my questions, and I would like to read the next book in the series when it comes out. By the way, the ending is not too “false” or unresolved. I could tell that there was more to the story, but I wasn’t left dangling in the wind.

5 thoughts on “The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

  1. Renee

    Greetings! I thought the False Prince was excellent. It was a fun read and while I guessed at Sage’s past, it tied up very nicely at the end. The first book is so good, I’m a little concerned about the next two books in the trilogy – what else is to write about? But I guess we will cross that bridge when we get to it! Thanks for the recommendation!

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