Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review: The False Prince -- Jennifer A. Nielsen

                Like Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, this book promptly went from my reading stack to my little brother’s.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
                The narrator, Sage, was the best part of this book. His voice was not only funny, but unique; he’s usually a step ahead of all the other characters, and the reader. He keeps secrets, from them and us. He threads us along in the best of ways, parceling out info on himself a bit at a time, never really lying to us, but surprising us all the same. Sage is a master of omission.
                He’s a likable character, who’ll have you rooting for him from the very start. And yet, in my opinion, things sometimes came a bit too easily for him. Some minor characters favored him (and started helping him) almost immediately, but the ‘why’ was never fleshed out as much as I’d have liked.
                One other thing: If the back-of-the-book summary has you expecting diligent etiquette/fencing/horse-back-riding/book-learnin’ PRINCE lessons… Well. They’re there, but the participants aren’t so diligent.
Considering they’re training to convince a kingdom that they’re a lost prince, and competing with other boys who have the same goal, and facing death if they fail, sometimes they don’t take it that seriously. There are a few instances of them being kept from their lessons by the one orchestrating the whole thing.
I’m not saying I’d have loved fifty pages detailing royal table settings. But the way the lessons are treated in this book struck me as a teensy bit implausible; even the lessons we see are mostly skimmed over. It’s as if they’re present because we expect them to be present, yet they aren’t really necessary.
Bottom line… If you’re looking for something reminiscent of the “I Can Learn to Do It” number in the Anastasia movie, this may not live up to your expectations.
Still. Sage is a fun narrator, and his antics and schemes and occasionally-noble nature were more than enough to make me pass The False Prince on to my brother.
For everything else, there’s Youtube.
 *clicks around on Youtube* ... For everything except the version with the actual clip, I guess. -_- BUT YOU ALL KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.

If you’ve read The False Prince, what did you think? And what are you reading now?


  1. That sounds really interesting! I love narrators who keep secrets from the reader.

    1. Yeah, it was really refreshing. ^^ Lots of places where you think you know what's going on--until you don't. XD