The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson

Goodreads: The False Prince
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy #1
Source: ARC provided by Scholastic through Shelf Awareness giveaway

Summary: Connor, a nobleman in a kingdom on the brink of civil war, has created a plan to hold his country together.  He gathers boys from orphanages across the land, seeking for the perfect boy to present to the court as the long-lost prince, the rightful heir to the throne.  Although Conner presents his motives as pure, Sage is skeptical.  His tongue is as sharp as his mind, but he finds he may have to compete for the role of prince as keenly as the other boys if he intends to come out of the plot unscathed.

Review: Jennifer A. Nielson’s The False Prince is an exuberant adventure filled with mystery, intrigue, and plotting that will have readers racing through the pages from the very first chapter.  Sage is introduced as a rambunctious, incorrigible orphan with a penchant for stealing and a flippant mouth, but the keen intelligence and noble character he hides beneath this rough façade begin to show quickly once he is in the hands of Connor.  Trapped in a corner where it appears his only two options are to be the perfect puppet prince or to die, Sage strives to do the impossible, to manipulate both friends and foes so he comes out on top.  Readers will be captivated by his spirit and his designs, eyes glued to the book as they wonder what he will do and say next.  It is always a surprise!

Sage has a worthwhile opponent in Conner, who has spent a lifetime scheming at court.  The False Prince is a protracted battle of wits and crossing of swords between the two.  But Sage must also deal with the other boys chosen for Connor’s competition, precariously balancing the benefits of their friendship against his own survival.  Their relationships fluctuate, fraught with tension, camaraderie, and the sense of something valuable that has been lost.

Nothing in The False Prince is certain—Connor’s motives, the final winner of his competition, whether any boy will claim the throne at all.  Nielson has created a very real suspense that is infrequently found in most YA literature.  The characters ultimately hurtle the readers toward a dramatic conclusion sprinkled with danger, secrets, and hope.  At the end, readers will find themselves rethinking the book, watching events fold in a completely new light as all the tiny pieces fall together.

Best of all, however, the pieces do fall together, and The False Prince can function perfectly as a standalone book.  Sage is such a fascinating character, however, and Nielson such an engaging writer, that everyone will be rushing to read the sequels.

Published: April 1, 2012

4 thoughts on “The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson

    • Briana says:

      I think I first heard of it on Shelf Awareness when I saw the ad for the giveaway, but after looking it up on Goodreads I decided it sounded pretty exciting. I was really surprised I actually received an ARC, though! I am definitely going to read the rest of the series when they come out.

      And, as I mentioned in the review, one of the best parts is that I really wasn’t certain how the book was going to end. I had my suspicions, but there were a lot of options-Sage becomes prince, another kid becomes prince, Sage runs away and we never learn who becomes prince, the real prince comes back from the dead….


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