Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: The False Prince (Jennifer A. Nielsen)



Sage is a thieving orphan with a talent for exasperating anyone he meets. But when Bevin Conner arrives and takes him away, Sage's simple orphan life evolves and becomes a part of a deception to fool the entire country. His choice seems simple, but it demands lies and secrets: pretend to be the lost prince, or die.

The False Prince is a high fantasy novel, with a world of countries that have tense relationships with each other. The plot is filled with mystery and political intrigue as Sage and the other boys are taught what it is to be a prince of Carthya. Sage's mischief and trouble keeps the book's pace going, and it speeds up as the mystery wraps up and the tension rises.

Sage is a funny, clever boy with a knack for getting into trouble. He has a witty tongue, and it tends to get him into trouble. Sage's conscience is admirable. He recognizes this plan for deception as treason, and he feels he doesn't want any part of it. His sense of right and wrong is an interesting contrast to his sarcastic and aloof attitude, and it's a good quality in a protagonist that behaves like he couldn't care less about his lessons or what people think of him. Maybe unusual one, which makes Sage a strong protagonist with this combination of traits, but it also makes him a fascinating character to follow in the story. Even though the story is told from first-person through Sage, sometimes we don't see things he does, and we learn about it later. It's an interesting way to write his POV, and makes his character more interesting to watch.

The worldbuilding of The False Prince is an unusual one for high fantasy. While it has different countries with their own tensions with each other, this world has no trace of magic. Not once does Sage's world have any hint of magic in it. It's a fascinating twist to a high fantasy world, where one might expect magic. The other aspects of the world are also interesting, and explain in a nice, informative way. Conner teaches not only Sage and the other boys but also the readers one how the country of Carthya works, but his lectures are broken up as the boys answer questions or ask questions, and sometimes shrouded in a little bit of mystery.

****
Violence/gore: A boy is killed in cold blood. One character is whipped/tortured for information. Another character kills a man. Sage is struck a few times and mistreated at one point.

Profanity: Referenced swearing.

Sexual content: Conner scoffs at the idea of causing trouble with a female character when Sage takes precautions to protect her at night.

Other: Sage is a thief (the story opens with him stealing). Conner's plan is an act of treason, a lie. Often talk of devils, mostly in exasperation (often towards Sage), sometimes saying devils have brought whatever trouble the speaker is facing.

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