Book Review: The False Prince

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

More reading fun from The Columbus Dispatch's Nancy Gilson: Here's a review of The False Prince (Scholastic, 352 pages, $17.99, age 12 and older) by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

Just in case there's room for another medieval adventure trilogy for young-adult readers, Jennifer A. Nielsen is happy to fill the bill.

The False Prince, the first installment in her promised "The Ascendance Trilogy," pays homage to Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper as it spins a tale of false identity, treason and deadly adventure in a mythical kingdom.

The conniving Sage is plucked from an orphanage, along with three other boys, by mysterious nobleman Conner. All the boys are about the same age and resemble one another -- and, they discover, the kingdom's young Prince Jaron, thought to have died at sea in a pirate attack.

Conner's plan is to pass off one of the boys as the prince, who, he will claim, didn't die after all and is the sole heir to the throne after the murder of the king, the queen and Jaron's older brother.

As Sage and the other orphans learn of the plan, they realize that only one of them can win -- and survive. The others must be killed for their knowledge of the conspiracy.

The story is told by Sage, who has no interest in becoming Prince Jaron but does have an interest in staying alive. Sage butts heads with Conner, not to mention the thuggish Cregan, who is charged with keeping the boys in line. But he is befriended by another of Conner's men as well as a mute girl he meets at the nobleman's manor.

The delight of Nielsen's story is the discovery of the true motivations of all the characters in a fast-paced plot with plenty of action, mystery and violence.

Of course, the tale ends with both some resolution and a promise of more intrigue to come. This is a trilogy, after all.

-Nancy Gilson