The False Prince

The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 1

Written by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Sage is a clever, headstrong orphan and thief, doing what he needs to do to survive on the streets of Carthya. One day while absconding with a stolen roast from a butcher shop, he is snatched up by a mysterious nobleman who pays off the butcher and takes him away forcibly. Soon he finds himself tied up in a cart with several other orphan boys who all look very similar to him. The nobleman has pulled these boys together to engage in a treacherous contest: after two weeks of intense physical and educational training he will choose one of them to impersonate the young prince of Carthya, who was lost at sea, and claim the throne. The other boys not chosen, knowing the secret treasonous plot, will surely be killed. Sage hates the nobleman’s evil plot but he must play by the rules to survive, and also watch out for the other boys, who may have plots of their own to gain the advantage.

This is a real page-turner, a psychological thriller set in the politics of a fantasy kingdom; a situation in which a mere boy can realistically determine the fates of the nations if he can but prove (or fabricate) his royal heritage. Sage is a compelling character, a boy who seems to understand more than anyone else what is truly at stake, and yet makes many impetuous 13-year-old blunders; or does he? It is fascinating to follow his internal conflict: he despises the treasonous plot and does not wish to impersonate the prince, yet still wants to survive and is naturally competitive. The political dance between Sage and the other characters is fascinating to follow. This is a book filled with adventure, suspense, intrigue, and some violence. Think of The Thief (Megan Whalen Turner) mashed-up with a medieval-styled Hunger Games. When you have finished you won’t want to leave this world, which is okay because this is the first volume of a projected trilogy. Highly recommended for 11-13-year-old boys, and everyone else, too. I think this will prove to be one of the biggest books of the coming year.

Review by Joshua Whiting, Granite District Library Media Program
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 5 and Up

The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 1
The False Prince
Written by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Scholastic Press
342 pages
Release Date: April 1, 2012
ISBN: 9780545392495 (hardcover)

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11 thoughts on “The False Prince”

  1. I have heard so much about this book. From the above information and those who have read it, I would love to have a copy of this book, especially for its appeal to upper grade boys.

  2. Just added this to our wish list for next year! Always looking for books that will grab our boys’ attention!

  3. Oops, I ran the contest for this one early. If you received a win or lose email, please ignore. I will have to do it again on Wednesday in case we have any more comments today.

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