Sometimes I get reading recommendations in the strangest places. A few months ago, I was listening to an episode of The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show in which he was interviewing famed CR/YA horror author R.L. Stine. [FYI, Jeff Rubin will interview anyone or discuss any topic that he finds interesting, which is why by listening to his podcast I’ve learned about such varied topics as Scott’s Pizza Tours, The Alamo Drafthouse, The Star Trek Experience, what it’s like to perform as Mr. Met, the Game of Thrones Cookbook, and (one of my personal favorite episodes), Action Park: The World’s Most Dangerous Waterpark.] Anyway, during that interview, R.L. Stine mentioned that one of his favorite recent children’s books was The False Prince. I decided to reserve the book based on his recommendation, and I ended up loving it to pieces.
Sage is a fascinating protagonist — readers will be torn between whether they should be supporting him, questioning him, or wanting to shake some sense into him. The other characters are drawn with dimension and depth, so that readers will feel varying levels of empathy for everyone, even the bad guys. The story was exciting, and took several twists and turns that I did NOT see coming (which always earns extra respect from me). I have several pieces of good news — that The False Prince is available in both hardcover and paperback, that the second book in the trilogy The Runaway King is available now, AND that The False Prince is in the early stages of being turned into a movie! Visit Jennifer A. Nielsen’s website to learn more about the Ascendance Trilogy and the rest of her books.
Sage is an orphan boy, the son of a barmaid and a failed musician. He survives by picking pockets, stealing money and food for himself and the other boys at the orphanage. One day a rich man named Conner comes to the orphanage and buys Sage, and soon Sage finds himself on a wagon with three other boys who are also orphans, and who all look a little bit like him. The boys don’t know it yet, but Conner plans to take over the throne by making one of these boys impersonate a prince who disappeared several years ago. He plans to train each of these boys in the same kinds of things that Prince Jaron would know how to do, like horseback riding and swordfighting. He plans to pick the boy who is the best student and most likely to impersonate Jaron and bring that boy to the castle as the long-lost prince.
But what about the other boys? The ones who are NOT the best at impersonating Prince Jaron? Well, Conner plans to kill them. But the boys don’t know that, either.