By: Abisola Dosunmu
In a kingdom named Carthya, war is coming. To bring the divided people together, a nobleman named Conner devises a plan to find an orphan boy who looks enough like the king’s son, (who was thought to be lost at sea) and may be the last link to the royal family, as the entire royal family—king, queen, and heir— all recently died under mysterious circumstances. His plan includes three orphans, one of which is a cunning thief named Sage. Sage knows Conner’s plan is far from honorable—yet he’s forced to play the part of his puppet as his life hangs in the balance. Yet as more lies unfold, and more blood is shed, one lie becomes more important than the rest and all of it comes down to a single question.
Who’s really the puppet?
‘The False Prince’ is the first book in a five book series written by Jennifer A. Nielsen, and the name of the series is called the Ascendance Series. I read the books for the first time in 8th grade, and now they are one of my favorite books to read. From the fleshed out characters, to the humor, to the cliffhangers and the various twists and turns, once you start this book, you can’t put it down.
The book immediately introduces us to Sage, a clever and wily orphan, trying to steal some meat from the market to share with the other boys at the orphanage. He is quickly apprehended by Conner and loaded into Conner’s wagon along with the other orphans he’s found, Roden, the athletic one, Tobias, the smart one, and Latamer, the sick one.
When they finally stop the wagon, Conner reveals his plan to the boys. He’s trying to find the orphan boy who looks and acts enough like King Eckbert’s youngest son, Prince Jaron, who had been missing for the past four years. His plan is that whoever is named to be Prince Jaron can stop the country from going to war. The boys have two weeks to learn everything there is to know about being a prince, and then to be able to fool the king’s court into thinking they’re Jaron.
After that, Conner tells them that any boy who wishes to abstain from his plan can do so, and Latamer, being as sickly as he is, decides that he can’t be the fake prince because of his condition. Conner tells him it’s fine and he can return to the wagon, and Sage immediately senses something is wrong and tries to warn Latamer. Before he can, Cregan swiftly shoots Latamer with an arrow, killing him before he even reaches the wagon. The boys now understand that it’s too late to back out of Conner’s competition.
Sage is soon trapped in Conner’s deadly win or lose all game with the two other boys, just to have a chance to be Prince Jaron. The downside? The price of losing the game may be his life. As Sage moves from being a rundown orphan, to having the chance to be a king, and have everything at his fingertips, he’s racing against enemies, trying to save his life, his past, and most importantly, his country.
I definitely think this series is worth reading if you’re into medieval fantasy. I loved the humor, the fleshed out characters, the plot twists, the main character, and the way the book kinda threw you off and made you work to get to the conclusion.
I would rate the book a 4/5. The only reason I won’t give it a full review is that it’s not really a book that’s short and ties itself up quickly, which I understand kinda turns off some people from certain books (and I definitely had trouble putting all of my attention on the book, but it was worth it).