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Book review: 'The False Prince' thrills with plot twists and dynamic characters

By Emily Ellsworth

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, March 24 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

"THE FALSE PRINCE," by Jennifer Nielsen, Scholastic Press, $17.99, 352 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)

Peace is teetering on the edge in the kingdom of Carthya. A divided court and rumors that the royal family has been murdered cause Conner, a nobleman, to devise a plan to unite the kingdom. He purchases four orphans to train and compete as impersonators of the lost Prince Jaron, including a particularly feisty one named Sage. With only a few weeks to prepare, and his life on the line, Sage has to learn to play the part and join in on the scheme.

“The False Prince” is a gracefully written fantasy that flows from beginning to end without a hitch. The orphan Sage is an endearingly arrogant and defiant character that pops off the page. Younger readers in particular will relate to his big talk and cunning devices that make him a character they will want to root for, but also watch their back around. Older readers will likely notice similarities to Gen from Megan Whalen Turner’s “The Thief” series, particularly in Sage’s carefree, semi-proud attitude.

In addition to dynamic characters, Jennifer Nielsen has created a plot with twists and turns in all the right places. Upon first glance, the plot seems easy to pin down. But where this novel truly shines is by building upon itself with action not immediately shown to readers. This results in a climax that will have readers turning back to previous pages to find all the clues that were there the entire time. With two more books planned in this new series, readers will be left anxiously awaiting the sequels in the Ascendance Trilogy.

“The False Prince” is a great fit for both avid fantasy fans and reluctant readers alike. Because of the content and particularly the very limited romantic emphasis, this book would be best suited for upper middle grade and lower young adult readers. “The False Prince” contains very little violence and no heavy language. Nielsen is a native of Utah, and currently resides in northern Utah.

if you go ...

What: "The False Prince" book launch

When: Monday, March 26, 7 p.m.

Where:Wasatch Fencing, 353 Market St., Kaysville

Web: kingsenglish.com

Note: Those wishing to participate in fencing should wear sweats and tennis shoes. Minors will need a signed parent consent form before participating.

Also ...

What: Jennifer Nielsen book signing

When: Wednesday, April 4, 7 p.m.

Where: Provo Library, 550 N. University Ave., Provo

Web: provolibrary.com

Emily Ellsworth is a blogger at Emily's Reading Room, online at emilysreadingroom.com, a blog dedicated to promoting a love of young adult fiction.

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