Jennifer A. Nielsen’s The False Prince lacks for nothing. Sass. Adventure. Sass. Competition. Sass. Action, plot twists, humor, a few light sprinkles of romance to top it all off.
And did I mention sass?
This book follows the tale of Sage, a young orphan boy who gets pulled into a regent’s scheme for power. Lord Bevin Conner pulls three young nobodies from the kingdom’s orphanages and trains them to imitate the kingdom’s long-lost prince, but only one can claim victory–and keep his life.
Stakes are raised when Conner reveals that he is not the only regent who has plans to put a boy on the throne and call him Prince Jaron while secretly running the show from behind the scenes. Not only does Sage have to impress Conner, now he also has to convince the entire court that he alone among a sea of other imposters is the real prince and capable of keeping the peace of a country on the brink of war.
Of course, readers are rooting for Sage to make it out alive from the very beginning. This is his story, after all, told through his point of view. Besides that, Sage’s narration is saturated with his ever-hilarious cheek. Sage may be the most enjoyable character I have read since Leo Valdez from the Heroes of Olympus series. Sage is as brave as he is quick-witted, and clever to boot. Somehow, he always seems to be one step ahead of his captor and competition.
The False Prince is simple without being predictable. I like to think that I am a fairly clever girl, but even I never knew exactly how Sage would manage to get himself out of his various scrapes. Nielsen has managed to create a fast-paced, interesting, and well=written story without sacrificing suspense, character development, or story arc.
The only thing that might be lacking (and I say this only for the sake of argument) is any “deeper meaning.” Now don’t get me wrong; I enjoy hidden meanings as much as the next person–as long as the next person isn’t a well-versed, metaphorically minded literature professor who picks up on things I could never hope to understand. There is little subliminal messaging here, or hints at a greater truth about our world or values.
There are, however, simple morals that can be recognized and taken at face value. Since this book is written for readers with emphasis on the young part rather than the adult part (primarily for adolescent boys, who need more books targeted toward them!), I would argue that the story’s simplicity is a virtue rather than a fault. Sage’s adventures continuously emphasize the importance of values like friendship, loyalty, bravery, and honor.
Ultimately, The False Prince was an exciting, easy read, and just as enjoyable for a (mostly) grown-up lady as it is for still-growing boys. If I ever have a child, this book will be in his or her collection.
Happy reading, friends!