Book review: “The Runaway King” by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Runaway King
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Recommended Ages: 12+

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Jaron, alias Sage, proved to be more than as advertised in The False Prince. After convincing an ambitious nobleman he was the best impostor for a long-lost prince, Jaron proved to be the real prince after all—supposedly killed by pirates, but lying low in the guise of a street urchin. Now he has returned to claim his throne, just when his country’s aggressive neighbors are poised to strike at any sign of weakness. In the second book of the Ascendance trilogy, the young king must run away from his kingdom in order to save it from an imminent threat of invasion.

This time Jaron goes undercover as a thief who wants to join up with the very band of pirates that was supposed to murder him four years ago. Using his knowledge of where Carthya’s royal treasure is hidden, he offers the pirates a chance to stage the heist of a lifetime. But what he really needs to do is destroy the pirates before they can join forces with his country’s most powerful enemy. If he fails, the Avenians and their pirate allies will destroy Carthya. But succeeding will mean doing things that go against his nature—such as killing people. With people he cares about putting themselves in harm’s way to help him, with a sometime friend turned attempted assassin bound to show up at any moment to expose him, and with innocent people caught in the middle with no idea what he has planned, the chances of disaster run high. The nation’s only frail hope rests in a reckless young king who is painfully aware that his people neither love nor trust him.

And so Jaron, as Sage, crosses the border into the country that represents the greatest threat to Carthya’s peace, and infiltrates the pirates who want him dead more than anyone. He risks being recognized, being caught in deception, being outmatched in battles of wits and blades. Besides his well-known qualities of stubbornness and recklessness, he also shows spectacular courage and toughness—facing awful danger, fighting through agonizing injuries and physical exhaustion, and brazening out some horrifically dangerous situations. Nimble, wily, clever with a sword, and often outrageously mouthy, he proves to be the hero his country needs. But he, in turn, needs luck on his side—and at several stunning, crucial moments, it seems to turn against him. And so when the subtle approach fails, and all hope seems lost, the only way remaining open is a gamble so outrageous that it beggars belief.

The adventures of Jaron are clever, thrilling, and emotionally gripping. Fans of The False Prince won’t want to miss this installment. The third book in the trilogy, titled The Shadow Throne, is due for release in February 2014. Another trilogy by the same author is the “Underworld Chronicles,” starting with Elliot and the Goblin War.

This book was pretty good! I would recommend adding it to your reading list.
This book was pretty good! I would recommend adding it to your reading list.