[Review] The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen


Published: 1 April 2012

Publisher: Scholastic

Edition: U.S. Hardcover

Summary: “In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.”

I was about a third of the way through reading this book when I went to Goodreads to check its rating and quickly glimpse a few reviews to get a feel for what others had thought of it. The reviews were glowing and I got frustrated because this book was just not doing it for me. The pace felt slow, the characters were interesting but just not that engaging and the entire story felt like an introduction to a bigger story to come. I had just come off reading Insurgent, so I was used to big plot developments, hooks at the end of each chapter and characters that I as the reader, was attached to in a way that I couldn’t just leave off reading the book if someone was in danger. But as The False Prince progressed I realised that the charm of this book was not the traditional highs and lows of plot progression, it was the intricate way in which Nielsen wrote her central character Sage.

Most books, written in first or third person, tell the story from the central character’s eyes. What they see, we see, and what they hear, we hear. So the surprises that come in the story are from what the main character finds out through events and the actions of other characters. Nielsen’s The False Prince, is the complete opposite. Sage may be our protagonist but don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s telling the reader the whole truth, or any of the truth really. Instead of being in Sage’s head, we as the reader are as fooled as Sage’s recruiter-kidnapper Conner. Throughout the story we are given insights into Sage’s actions but left to our own devices to understand what his motives are and what plans are going through his head. This makes for the biggest surprise toward the end of the book when we discover Sage’s best kept secret.

Nielsen’s editor must have combed through the manuscript that was to be The False Prince, and ensured that Sage kept his secret as well hidden as possible, for greatest effect when we discover the things that Sage didn’t allow the reader to know in his storytelling. In fact when it comes time to learn about the true Sage, I was hesitant to believe that it was the truth. Sage is such a good liar that we don’t know if this the story that Conner wants the court to believe is the truth, or if this is Sage’s truth. This may sound quite confusing to a reader who has not come this far into the book, so I will keep this spoiler free, but the transition is beautifully written. From this point in the book it was a rush to the end and a very satisfactory one at that. I am very interested in reading the sequel, The Runaway King, which was published in March of this year.

four stars


About Josephine Hardy

A 26-year-old writer from Melbourne, Australia currently living with her husband in Fayetteville, Arkansas (USA). Content Marketing Producer at Simply Measured, hobby genealogist, cat lover, and world traveler.

Posted on May 13, 2013, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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