Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publisher: Scholastic, 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Sage is an orphan, just doing his best to get find enough food to eat each day, when a strange man named Conner comes to the orphanage and purchases him. Sage has little choice but to go and finds himself in a contest to become the lost prince of Carthya. He and two other orphans are pitted against one another as they attempt to transform themselves into what the prince would be like four years after his disappearance. The boys who fail will die, keeping the secret buried forever.
I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this novel when I first started reading, but after the first few chapters Sage really started to grow on me. Jennifer A. Neilsen has created some great characters dealing with a huge consequence. She also keeps many secrets from us until the end--some of which I had guessed, but others that surprised me because I just assumed otherwise. I like not always being right about twists.
The plot moves along quickly. With only two weeks for the boys to prepare for the final selection of who will be presented at court, there is a lot to cram in there, but Neilsen managed to do this without it feeling like a grocery check list of skills for them to learn and problems that needed to pop up in the middle of it all. Sage is a character who can't keep his mouth shut and always finds himself in more trouble than his peers, but he also earns the respect and care of others, which helps him when he's in the most trouble. The question is whether this is enough to keep him alive and help him win the title of the false prince.
This is a great choice for anyone who enjoys fantasy novels. The quick moving story and many problems in which Sage finds himself will appeal to most readers, especially those reluctant readers. There are two other books that follow The False Prince and I will definitely be trying to get those in soon.
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