Review: The False Prince

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy #1
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
Reading Level: Middle Grade
Pages: 342 (ARC)
Source: Trade
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.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

It is so hard for me to put my thoughts into words with this one. I read this book following a slew of three star and under reviews, so this was not only a refreshing change, but a read that I easily and excitedly devoured while hanging on Nielsen's every word. To properly put my thoughts into words would be nearly impossible because my main thought after reading this one is "I need book two, I need book two, I need book two." With that being said, I'm going to do my best and break this review down in increments in an attempt to get my delightfully jumbled thoughts in check.

The Plot. Ho-ly Cow. I cannot describe the sheer creativity and literary genius that is this middle grade high fantasy. Nielsen exhibits the kind of writing that will easily stand out among the rest and continue to propel her further in her field. Four boys are chosen to compete to become the impersonator of Prince Jaron and take over the throne after the murder of both his parents and his brother, Darius. All unruly orphans, the four boys have only two weeks to prove themselves in pursuit of the throne, risking their lives in the process of gaining what some would view the ultimate freedom but others would view as the most intense of imprisonments.

The Characters. I loved the large plethora of characters in this one. It is one of the many things about this novel that makes us love it. They range from evil nobles, murderous villains, poor orphans, clever young boys, and silently willful servants. Sage is incredibly clever and resourceful, especially for a fifteen year old orphan, so his wittiness and determination made him respectable and easily adored. He made this book and easy read for me, as did the others competing for the crown because they were all so different with varying skill-sets, yet equal levels of determination. Conner, the man trying to make the false prince, is truly the definition of villainous at its finest. While I did not like him, I can't help but love his spot-on characterization. Then there were also characters like Mott and Imogen--stuck to following their orders, but having minds of their own. They do what they think is right and risk their welfare in the process without truly compromising their lives. They were very endearing and unique to the tale.

The Intrigue. I loved that for the entire novel we were switching back and forth about who would impersonate the prince and not lose their life. It seems that almost every chapter a new boy was in the lead because of his various unique talents. I couldn't put it down! But, oh boy, there's even more delicious twists later on in the story that had my mouth gaping open like a guppy from the pure shock, respect, and excitement that I experienced all at once. I'm telling you, when you think you finally know what's going to happen, Nielsen finds a way to completely knock your socks off with less than a fifth of the book remaining. I sit here and I'm still shaking with excitement just thinking about the last bomb she dropped on us that changed the entire course of this wondrous novel.

Overall. GET. THIS. BOOK. Beg your parents, trade for it, buy it for yourself, run to your local library. Whatever you have to do, go get it. It's so worth it, high fantasy lover or not. However, if you have any brain at all, hold off on getting your own copy until we are closer to the release of book two. Trust me when I say that the anticipation may just be enough to kill you. Five stars to my official new favorite middle-grade ever. How I wish that one day Nielsen will venture into the young adult field, she certainly has the skill and creativity to do so.


  1. We just got this book from a trade, so I'm super excited to read it! I'm glad you said that people who don't usually read high fantasy will like it...because that's so me!! Awesome review :D Now Becca has to fight me for it, lol :)

  2. Haha I agree! One of the best MG books I've read :D Good thing is, The Runaway King just came out!!! YA!! I can't wait to read about Jaeron and his adventure again :)

    -Ariella @ Secrets of Lost Words

  3. I had gotten this book when I saw it on the "new" shelf but never got around to reading it. It sounds great though, on my next trip I'll have to pick it up :D Juvenile books can often surprise me, one of the reasons I love to read them still.