Friday, March 30, 2012

Early Review - The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 1) by Jennifer A Nielsen (5/5 stars)

Reading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: April 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-0545284134
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Ascendence Trilogy series
Source: From Publisher for Review
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is the first book in the Ascendance Trilogy. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. From the very first page this was a wonderful book. The main character is funny, snarky, and sneaky. This is a great middle grade fantasy that people of all ages will love; its full of lots of intrigue and twists and turns.

Sage is just trying to survive at the orphanage he lives at when he literally runs into Connor. Connor wants Sage for a mysterious purpose. Ends up that the young prince of the realm disappeared years ago and Connor wants a young man to pretend to be that prince. Now Sage will be duking it out against two others boys in an intense two week training course to see who will do the best and win the place of false prince.

Sage pretty much makes this book. He is incredibly resourceful, disrespectful, snarky, funny, and sincere all at once. For a young thief he has quite the attitude and you can't help but root for him the whole time. He is always out to help those who need help, but also likes to help himself.

Sage's tone is light-hearted and sarcastic for most of the novel; I laughed out loud a number of times and found myself grinning widely most of the rest of the time. That's not to say it's all laughs; Sage is involved in some heavy court intrigue and has to make some tough decisions.

The characters surrounding Sage are all very well done. Connor is a character that's hard to figure out in the he here to help the kingdom or is he a traitor? It's an interesting mystery for the reader to unravel. All of the characters have strong personalities and a lot of depth to their characters.

Having the boys pitted against each other creates an interesting dynamic; this suspense of who will be the False Prince really drives the story forward and makes it hard to stop reading. While this premise seems fairly straight forward, as the story continues things get more and more complicated. There are some truly wonderful twists in the plot that will have the reader absolutely astounded. The resolution was kind of predictable but the skill with which everything came together was impressive and the irony involved highly entertaining.

The writing is very natural sounding and easy to read, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The story ties up nicely in this book, so no horrible cliffhangers. Things are also set up well for continuation of the series in future books.

Overall I absolutely loved this book right from the first page. Sage is funny, resourceful, and completely full of it...he is absolutely entertaining to read about. All of the characters are well done. The book is hard to put down because the competition between the boys really draws the reader in. I loved how this simple premise gets more and more complex; this is a very intelligent and well done story full of mystery and intrigue. In some ways it reminded me a bit of Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, it also reminds a bit of John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series. I highly recommend this book to fans of middle grade fantasy; in fact I think it would be a highly entertaining read for readers of all ages. I can't wait to see what happens in the 2nd book!

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- Debut Author Reading Challenge

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