The False Prince (The Ascedance Triology #1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Released: 7th June 2012
Publisher: Scholastic UK
Source: Bought for Kindle
Reason for reading: Liz (Planet Print) kept going on about it and it was part of the Kindle summer promotion
In a discontented
kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a
nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan. He will 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 as Sage
moves from a rundown orphanage to the king’s sumptuous palace, layer
upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold. Until, finally, a truth is
revealed that may prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken
The False Prince is aimed at a slightly younger audience than the books I usually opt for, but I found it had the same charm and addictive feel of the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books, both of which I LOVE. Sage is smart-mouthed, quick-witted and all together too big for his boots, all of which makes him very easy to love. I found the cast of characters to be an interesting bunch, it was fantastic how not that many of them were actually that likeable, they all had flaws and weaknesses which added to the realism of them. From the other two boys 'competing' to Conner's servants to Conner himself, each had a well-rounded personality and story that helped bring the book to life. I liked how each of the boys reacted to each new stage or test or development as was fitting with their character, the consistency of this again added depth to the book.
I loved the plot concept, training up a boy to look, act and think like a long lost prince in order to 'save' the kingdom in the aftermath of a royal murder. I loved the political aspects to the plot as I think they made the whole story more interesting and more realistic and definitely more gripping.
The writing was masterful in the way aspects of the story were revealed and also witheld from the reader without it seeming odd. It was told in first person, but Sage's character fitted really well with the concealments as he was particularly tricky so it didn't seem strange at all. Sage was a hilarious narrator, always there with a quip or a funny comeback which made the book extremely entertaining to read. The writing was a little simplistic for my tastes, but as mentioned earlier it is aimed at more of a middle grade audience than a YA one, so that explains that really. I did find it well written and gripping and I flew through it pretty quickly. The world-building was detailed enough to be interesting, but not too bogged down in detail that it felt boring or confusing.
My only niggles are that the plot was a little predictable; it wasn't easy to guess from the writing at all, but just because you could just see how it was all going to work out. I found that a little disappointing, but it couldn't really have gone any other way, and I didn't mind too much. The other issue I had was that I thought the ending was a little rushed and I definitely think this book could have benefitted from being a couple of pages longer. I also felt Sage had a pretty drastic character change which whilst necessary, was a little sudden.
The False Prince is a gripping, interesting read full of perfectly crafted characters and plenty of personality. I will definitely be reading the sequel.