Book 2 of the Ascendancy Trilogy. I’m about to make a rule for myself: no more trilogies, series, or maybe even sequels. I’m tired of half-finished stories. However, if I made that rule I’d have to make an exception for Jennifer Nielsen’s Ascendancy trilogy.
The Runaway King is just as good as (or better than) the first book in the Ascendancy Trilogy, The False Prince, which was the Cybils award winner last year in the Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category. In Book Two, Prince Jaren has become King Jaron, but his grip on the throne is none too secure. Both the neighboring kingdom of Avenia and the cutthroat Pirates are ready to attack Jaron’s rather weak little country of Carthya, and these two enemies may actually be in league with one another. Not only does Jaron doubt himself and his ability to be a good king, but the most of the Council also want to replace Jaron with a regent. And Jaron’s not sure whom he can trust, and there’s the unresolved quandary of a princess he’s required to marry versus a commoner friend he loves and wants to protect.
When Jaron’s past catches up with him in the form of an assassination attempt, he does the only thing he can: he disguises himself, runs away, and goes to confront Carthya’s enemies. Self-sacrifice is a big theme in this volume of the story, and Jaron is growing and learning as he tries to balance his responsibilities, his desire for justice, and his commitments to friends. It’s not an easy balance to maintain, and he has a kingdom to save while he’s at it.
The third book in the trilogy, The Shadow Throne, is due out in February, 2014. I may go back and read all three books together when I get my hands on all three. And I may just try to establish a policy of waiting until all three books in a trilogy are published and available before I start reading, instead of banning series altogether. If I have the patience for such a policy . . .