Reviews for False Prince

Booklist Reviews 2012 April #1
This first book in a planned trilogy is action-oriented fantasy, but don't expect magical creatures. Instead, it revolves around political intrigue (à la Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, 1996). Sage is a street-savvy orphan, and along with two other boys he is recruited by Conner, a nobleman who wants to remake them in the image of their country's lost prince, a victim of pirates and presumed dead. The task is urgent, as the rest of the royal family has been murdered and civil war seems imminent. As the boys, chosen for their passing resemblance to Prince Jaron, compete to assume a new identity and the throne, Sage discovers some unpleasant truths about their host, beyond his treasonous plans to pass one of them off as royalty. Sage is a likable hero full of smart-alecky snarkiness. Especially appealing are the friendships he forges: one with his bodyguard and teacher; another with a mute serving girl. Though lacking in subtlety, Nielsen's plot twists keep coming, and readers will want to see how they play out as Sage's adventures continue. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
The royal family of Carthya has been poisoned, and among the various regents jockeying for the throne, Conner has the most ingeniously devious plan: to train four orphans, briefly and intensely, in all things royal, then choose one to impersonate the long-lost, presumed dead younger prince. The book's brisk pacing underscores the sure-fire mix of adventure, mystery, and suspense.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #2
The royal family has been poisoned, and now the kingdom of Carthya, surrounded by enemy nations, is poised on the brink of civil war. Among the various regents jockeying for the throne, Conner has the most ingeniously devious plan: to recruit four orphans, train them briefly and intensely in all things royal, and then choose one (while disposing of the others) to impersonate the long-lost, but presumed dead, younger prince. But Sage, the narrator of this tale, is not so easy for Conner to bend to his will. He is stubborn, rebellious, impetuous, and unpredictable. And yet as the story wends its way through the requisite twists and turns of the plot, he becomes the obvious and inevitable choice. However, Sage, too, has some tricks up his sleeve, and as the time draws near for the coronation of a new king, he reluctantly embraces both his past and future identities to forge a new destiny for himself and his kingdom. Sage is crafty and deceptive, recalling a young Gen from The Thief (rev. 11/96), and if the competition to become the new prince is fierce, it is not excessively violent. This book should appeal to fans of Megan Whalen Turner and Suzanne Collins as well as to readers not quite ready for those authors yet; its brisk pacing underscores the sure-fire mix of adventure, mystery, and suspense. jonathan hunt Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 February #2
A brazen 15-year-old orphan living in the imaginary kingdom of Carthya becomes embroiled in a treasonous power-play to install a false prince on the vacant throne. For years, Sage has survived by lying and stealing in Mrs. Turbeldy's Orphanage for Disadvantaged Boys. When scheming Bevin Connor removes him, Sage assumes he will serve Connor, but he quickly discovers he's one of four orphan boys chosen by Connor for a more dangerous game. Connor plans to secretly transform them into gentlemen and select one to impersonate Prince Jaron, who is missing and presumed dead. Carthya's current king, queen and crown prince have been murdered, and war could erupt at any moment. When the regents meet in two weeks, Connor plans to produce long-lost "Prince Jaron," who will rule as his pawn. Competition becomes fierce as the boys realize the one chosen to play Jaron will be the only survivor. Sage's disdain, defiance and reckless arrogance mark him for failure, but his boldness, instinct and innate decency indicate there's more than meets the eye. Could Sage become Prince Jaron? Sage reveals his story in the first person in slowly unfolding layers guaranteed to shock. Ruthless ambition, fierce action and plotting, complex characters and lots of sword play and hidden passages keep pages flipping. Readers of this multifaceted, well-crafted tale will eagerly await Sage's further adventures. (map) (Adventure. 8-14) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 February #2

This highly enjoyable medieval fantasy from Nielsen (the Underworld Chronicles), set in the medieval kingdom of Carthya, centers on 15-year-old Sage, an angry and pugnacious orphan, who is unexpectedly purchased by Conner, one of the king's regents. The entire royal family--king, queen, and heir--has recently died under mysterious circumstances, and to prevent civil war, Conner is collecting orphans who might believably be substituted for the dead king's younger son, who was reported lost at sea years earlier. Sage is soon engaged in a deadly, winner-take-all contest with two other boys to earn the right to impersonate Prince Jaron. Sage is deftly characterized through humorous first-person narration, quickly establishing himself as a beguiling antihero: "I'd never attempted roast thievery before, and I was already regretting it," he says when readers first meet him. "It happens to be very difficult to hold a chunk of raw meat while running." Secondary characters are equally fleshed-out. First in the Ascendancy Trilogy, this is an impressive, promising story with some expertly executed twists. Ages 8-14. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 April

Gr 5-8--No one knows that the king, queen, and heir to the throne of Carthya are dead. Conner, a king's regent, chooses three orphans to vie for the role of Prince Jaron, the remaining heir, presumed dead, but whose body has never been found. In two weeks, Conner plans to reveal that he has found the missing prince. The boys are thrown into a brutal rivalry, knowing that if they are not chosen, death will soon follow. No one's true intentions are clear, especially those of wily Sage. One of the orphans, he subverts authority at every opportunity, yet never gives up his quest to become the pretender to the throne. On the day of the announcement, a truth is revealed that changes everything for Conner, the orphans, and especially Sage. Fast-paced and exciting, this book will appeal to readers who enjoy intrigue mixed in with their adventure. Although the twist at the end is predictable, the events that precede it are not. The characters' motivations may not always be clear but they remain consistent. Full of machinations and surprises, this book will keep students reading until the last page and eager for the second in the trilogy.--Kefira Phillipe, Nichols Middle School, Evanston, IL

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VOYA Reviews 2012 February
Sage is a fourteen-year-old boy who lives in an orphanage in the kingdom of Carthya. Can a wealthy aristocrat named Conner rescue him from his pauper's fate? Sage learns that although Conner has purchased him from the orphanage, his fate is not secure. Conner has a bold plot to train three orphan boys to impersonate Carthya's lost prince. Due to the treasonous nature of his plot, only the boy who can best impersonate the lost prince will be allowed to live. Will Sage be able to overcome his obstinate nature and his penchant for finding trouble in time to win the crown While the basic premise of the plot is sound, the first half of the book leaves much to be desired. The setting of Carthya is not chronicled in enough detail for readers to feel like they have really entered this fictional world. In addition, a number of the characters feel too basic and undeveloped. Many young adult readers may abandon this book because they are not able to understand the characters' motivations within the first one hundred pages. While the end of the book takes a surprising turn and neatly ties things together in an unexpected way, many young adult readers will not expend their energy toiling through the pages to get to the rewarding ending. Although this book may not be the best fit for the average young adult reader, students who like fantasy with kings, queens, castles, and power struggles may find this book worthwhile.--Erika Sogge Schneider 3Q 2P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.