The False Prince (Ascendance Trilogy)

The False Prince (Ascendance Trilogy)

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The False Prince (Ascendance Trilogy)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
April 01, 2012
ISBN
978-0545284134
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THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

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.

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Rebellious Sage Brings Narration with Honesty

First I love the fact that inspiration for this story comes from "Guaranteed" by Eddie Vedder. Jennifer A. Nielsen sites her inspiration from the line, "I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me." This line fits Sage perfectly! Being a musician,I love seeing how music can inspire and help create stories beyond what the musician wrote on the page. At times I could even hear the music in the background. It was like Sage's own personal soundtrack.

Sage, a boy of the streets, narrates his journey throug Connor's twisted plan. As one of Conner's  chosen boys, Sage stands out as a defiant and streetwise. He is not like the others. Everyone has their own game plan and secrets.
 
Sage has the smarts and the wits to keep himself alive. The only question is  . . . Is he capable of outwitting Connor and winning the game? Or, is there more to Connor than there seems. Sage can be devious, but he isn't ruthless. He has a big heart that he must keep hidden from the others.

I love Sage's honest narration. He has lived on the streets, knows the feeling of being unwanted, and yet he is a survivor. His quick tongue and his lack on interest in following Connor's directions makes this a fun read.

This book sounded like the all too familiar medieval tale, but it has a unique twist. The story is familiar, yet fresh. I applaud Nielsen for writing a story line that harkens back to old knight's tales while keeping the characters relatable to middle schools boys and girls alike. Although pace is slow in the very beginning , it picks up paces quickly.  It will keep any adventure loving reader on the edge of their seats. Once the story got going, I couldn't put it down. This a book that I can hand both my male and female students knowing they will find it enjoyable. I cannot wait to read more.

Good Points
Fresh voice in narrator Sage
Appealing to both male and female readers.
Language not too overly detailed
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The False Prince

In this first book in a purported trilogy, Sage is taken from an orphanage by the scheming Conner and taken to his luxurious mansion with fellow orphans Roden and Tobias. The reason? The entire royal family of Carthya has been murdered, with the exception of Prince Jaron, who was on a ship that was attacked by pirates when he was about ten, and has never been found. Conner wants to groom a boy to pretend to be the prince, ostensibly to prevent a war between Carthya and a neighboring kingdom. The boys have a variety of skill levels, education, and attitude problems, but Sage is the worst-- he is constantly fighting against Conner, running off, and being a brat about his new found fortune, mainly because all the boys know that whomever is not chosen will surely die. Despite his contrary personality, Sage develops some allies in the maid servant Imogen and the trainer Mott, who both try to help him, and manages to attract the positive attention of the princess Araminda, who is supposed to marry Jaron's brother, and since he is dead, will marry the boy Conner chooses to be prince. When Conner finally does make his choice, long forgotten secrets are revealed that change the entire game.

Good Points
Even though I didn't want to read yet another medieval fantasy, I was oddly drawn into this one. Great cover. The fact that it will be a trilogy and not something longer makes me inclined to purchase this.
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WOW. Just wow.

[Featured on my blog here: http://thebibliohphile.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/the-false-prince-jennifer-a-nielsen/]

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.

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Quick Read, Awesome Characters, Predictable to a Point Where you Don't Expect It!

I was enjoying this book from the moment I picked it up. The characters are exciting, and interesting, though not perfect, which makes them human. As the book goes on, things start to get... well...predictable. Then it's extremely confusing and unlikely, but I still enjoyed it. It's a quick read, so why not go ahead and read it? I enjoyed reading it!

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One boy to fool them all

I cannot tell y'all how many times I checked The False Prince out from my library only to have return it. I don't know why I decided to check it out the other day when I knew I wasn't going to read it. Plot twist: I READ IT! And, my god, it was awesome. I opened The False Prince expecting to merely skim it but found myself awake in the middle of the night reading it. It was so hard for me to put it down... until I was finished.

The False Prince gives us a promising story. Sage is completely awesome -- I loved his quick retorts, his braveness, and his honour. Sage is a 14 (15?) year old orphan pickpocket from Avenian but travelled to Carthya to live. Upon doing what he usually did (steal food, money, etc.), a nobleman from court, Conner, finds him and takes him (along with three other boys). His reason? To fool an entire kingdom that he has the king's long-lost son. The boys are taken to Conner's palace to be trained as a prince would. The boys have no choice but to stay unless, that is, they want to be killed.

Each of the boys has their own personality that I admired and I really like that (usually most YA novels I read the characters have the same boring personality). There's Roden: strong and boastful, he's doesn't know how to read, but he sure does know how to use a sword. Tobias: curious and smart. He's the only boy of the four who can read. Though he can read any book you give him, he certainly can't use any sword you hand him. Latamar: quiet and feeble. We don't learn much about him (view spoiler). Then there's Sage: defiant and cunning. He knows how to read a little; as well as know how to use a sword. He's a quick theif and knows how to slip in and out of the palace without anyone knowing he left. Each of the boys possess a quality the prince had, but only one can fool the entire kingdom.

The False Prince is a new novel with many twists and turns. It's wonderfully written and unique; I'm glad I decided to read this book. It's not like other YA literature we all get tired of reading (stupid whiny teenage girl meets badass new boy with creepy powers and falls in love). Though I had my share of foreshadowing (and ended up being right), I was still blown away by the story. I know you will enjoy this book; if not.... I'm going to keep my comments to myself. :)

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Mid-Grade medieval fantasy that everyone will love

This book was so much fun to read. It was a refreshing change of pace from many of the other books I've been reading lately. The False Prince is a witty and engrossing story that doesn't have a ton of action or adventure, but has plenty of intrigue fueled by engaging characters.

Sage narrates the book in the first person, but he only ever lets us know as much as he wants us to know. So there were several surprises throughout the course of the narrative, when Sage finally decided to clue us into a past action or motivation.

I loved the characters in this book. Nearly all of them were nuanced, with no clear-cut bad guys or good guys (at least until the end). Even Conner, with his devious and treacherous plot, keeps you guessing as to his true motivations. And while Sage starts out disliking his fellow princes-in-training, he eventually forms a tenuous friendship with them as we understand that they, too, are just 14-year-old boys that are in over their heads.

As for Sage himself, he was clever, witty, and reckless. He was frustrating at times, but what 14-year-old boy isn't? It was exciting to see the story unfold through his eyes. And although Sage is indisputably the hero of this story, he has definite weaknesses and flaws, which is kind of refreshing. Too often I think male protagonists are just good at everything, and it gets annoying. Sage can indeed be annoying, but it's not because he's The Awesomest Ever. It's because he's a kid, and kids can be kind of annoying. But he was also likable and charismatic, and I was completely rooting for him.

And the story...I just loved it. It's a fairly simple story that takes place almost entirely in the same setting (Conner's estate). But the challenges the boys face, the constant threat of what Conner will do with the boys who are not chosen, and the slow revealing of the nature of the royal court of Carthya, made this book hard to put down.

Actually, it was impossible to put down. I thought I was going to put it down and go bed, and then a huge twist completely woke me up. So I wound up reading the entire thing in one day.

Although this is the first book in a trilogy, the ending wraps up the events in this book neatly. So you won't find yourself frustrated with a cliffhanger ending. I kind of hate when a book ends on a cliffhanger, then I have to wait months (or more) to find out what happens. This one is open to sequels, but doesn't need a sequel for you to feel satisfied.

I'd recommend this book to anyone, be they young teens or adults, male or female. It's easy to read, totally engrossing, and left me feeling utterly content and happy at the end. Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting the sequel!

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