FICTION

The False Prince

Bk. 1. 342p. (The Ascendance Trilogy). CIP. Scholastic. Apr. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-28413-4; ebook $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-39249-5. LC 2011006692.
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Gr 5–8—No one knows that the king, queen, and heir to the throne of Carthya are dead. Conner, a king's regent, chooses three orphans to vie for the role of Prince Jaron, the remaining heir, presumed dead, but whose body has never been found. In two weeks, Conner plans to reveal that he has found the missing prince. The boys are thrown into a brutal rivalry, knowing that if they are not chosen, death will soon follow. No one's true intentions are clear, especially those of wily Sage. One of the orphans, he subverts authority at every opportunity, yet never gives up his quest to become the pretender to the throne. On the day of the announcement, a truth is revealed that changes everything for Conner, the orphans, and especially Sage. Fast-paced and exciting, this book will appeal to readers who enjoy intrigue mixed in with their adventure. Although the twist at the end is predictable, the events that precede it are not. The characters' motivations may not always be clear but they remain consistent. Full of machinations and surprises, this book will keep students reading until the last page and eager for the second in the trilogy.—Kefira Phillipe, Nichols Middle School, Evanston, IL
The royal family of Carthya has been poisoned, and among the various regents jockeying for the throne, Conner has the most ingeniously devious plan: to train four orphans, briefly and intensely, in all things royal, then choose one to impersonate the long-lost, presumed dead younger prince. The book's brisk pacing underscores the sure-fire mix of adventure, mystery, and suspense.
The royal family has been poisoned, and now the kingdom of Carthya, surrounded by enemy nations, is poised on the brink of civil war. Among the various regents jockeying for the throne, Conner has the most ingeniously devious plan: to recruit four orphans, train them briefly and intensely in all things royal, and then choose one (while disposing of the others) to impersonate the long-lost, but presumed dead, younger prince. But Sage, the narrator of this tale, is not so easy for Conner to bend to his will. He is stubborn, rebellious, impetuous, and unpredictable. And yet as the story wends its way through the requisite twists and turns of the plot, he becomes the obvious and inevitable choice. However, Sage, too, has some tricks up his sleeve, and as the time draws near for the coronation of a new king, he reluctantly embraces both his past and future identities to forge a new destiny for himself and his kingdom. Sage is crafty and deceptive, recalling a young Gen from The Thief (rev. 11/96), and if the competition to become the new prince is fierce, it is not excessively violent. This book should appeal to fans of Megan Whalen Turner and Suzanne Collins as well as to readers not quite ready for those authors yet; its brisk pacing underscores the sure-fire mix of adventure, mystery, and suspense. jonathan hunt

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