The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen | Book Review

The False Prince book cover by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (The Ascendance Trilogy #1)
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication Date: Apr. 1, 2012
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.

     Master Graves was incensed and said, as punishment for my disruption, I would have to write my letters an extra ten times that day.
     "Ten times the better I'll know them, then." I said. "How strange that you should punish me by ensuring I come out more educated than Roden, who has tried to obey you."
-Sage, The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
I had the opportunity to attend Jennifer A. Nielsen's author signing at the Provo Library not too long ago, where she spoke about this book of hers. What stuck with me was the way she spoke about the main character, Sage. One of the things she said about him, was how he is one of those rare characters who she didn't need to create a history for in order to know him better, because he came to her full of history and personality. She also talked about how he is very stubborn yet cunning, and how the people around him are always trying to get him to conform to their rules...all the while not knowing that he is changing those very rules, without them even knowing it. It was a tempting statement, and one that I didn't fully understand, but it convinced me to buy the book then and there, so I could meet this Sage character.

You guys--I have never before come across a character who has been able to lie so convincingly, that even the reader believes the lie. I was close to tearing my hair out, as I gripped it in surprise when all was revealed. It did NOT happen as I thought it would. It was a fantastic charade. This is a very character-driven story. Sage is not only a stubborn and cunning character, but he's also perceptive, quick-witted, and funny. He gets himself into trouble many times (either for defending himself or others, or because he just wanted to spite someone), is constantly threatened, and yet he remains his own master. He doesn't give in. He is a character who just does. not. give. up. It's an admirable quality. Other characters have fantastically rich personalities as well, filling the book with lots of good twists and changing alliances.

There were some things that happened towards the end, that made me disappointed because the story got more and more predictable, just when I had come to expect the unpredictable. I must admit that I had expected more from Sage, after finally seeing the full reach of his cunning. Although I am happy with the outcome, the questions that I have due to the ending (like: how would Sage have fared if there was never a lie?) are still running through my head. And I was still unclear on the age of the characters (it mentions it in the beginning, but they all seemed much older than that, leaving me confused at times).

Overall, while I can't say the book is completely perfect, it is pretty close by my reckoning. Jennifer Nielsen not only constantly surprises you and has you rooting for the main character, but she also manages to get you to trust the main character--even after so many lies. It's amazing. You'll be entertained from the very first page.

Go read it!

Temp. Guide: 99.4
Temp. Guide
Read this if:
...you want a great fantasy adventure, with a character who will knock your socks off.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Murder, poisoning (which is talked about a few times), fighting (to be expected with a fantasy adventure), and a scene where a character is chained up and lashed. There also may have been a swear word or two (I can't remember; I was too enthralled).}

This is Teen is hosting the first chapter of The False Prince, which means you can read it now! 

Purchase The False Prince:
Jennifer A. Nielsen:
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  1. I really loved this book. I thought the ending was a tad predictable as well. I went to the Library Authorlink too! I think I saw you there. Jennifer was super nice!

    1. Hi Kami! I remember seeing you there, too. She really was nice!

  2. Hmmm, I'm intrigued. I'm worried the lying MC might annoy me. Only because I don't like to feel lied to as the reader but that's just because of a past book that ticked me off. This one could be totally different. I'm sure I'll try it sometime.

    1. Ooh, I get what you're saying. Personally, I think it really worked well in this book. If you end up reading it, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

  3. This is so getting read ASAP. I've already been salivating for this book, but this quote set me on fire: "yet he remains his own master. He doesn't give in. He is a character who just does. not. give. up."

    I love main characters like that!

    1. Yay! I love knowing which parts of my reviews people really like. :) If you love characters like that, you'll love the book! :)

  4. WIN! I am so happy you liked this book. Another blogger who has very similar tastes to mine recommended it to me and so in a weak moment I purchased it. I have not had the chance to pick it up yet, but just knowing it is by my bed and ready for me to read it's awesomeness helps me sleep at night. I can't wait to understand more of what you're talking about! I hate it when there aren't strong characters so having on that exceptionally stands out (along with others) is so tempting!

    Great review!

    1. Oh yeah, it's definitely got some strong characters. I, too, hate it when characters are lackluster...it's a big letdown. Not so with this one. I can't wait for you to read it! :)


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