About two years ago, I went to the Provo library to see the author of a book I had first heard of only days before. The book, titled The False Prince, sounded intriguing, so I bought it about fifteen minutes before the event began. By the time Jennifer Nielsen was introduced, I was five chapters in, and the only thing that stopped me from reading more was the fact that the author was every bit as witty and charming as her writing style. Only one person beat me to the line to have her sign the book afterward. That night, instead of working on my capstone paper and studying for finals, I read and read and read until I hit that brick wall of disappointment that comes when you realize there’s no more to be read. I haven’t been so impatient for a sequel since Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. But let me tell you, both The Runaway King and The Shadow Throne were certainly worth the wait.
In The False Prince, four orphan boys are gathered by nobleman Bevin Conner and given a choice: treason or death. One of the boys, Sage, risks everything to unravel Conner’s devious plans.
Why is it awesome?
1. Sage. If I could hang out with any fictional character ever for a day, it would probably be Sage. Except maybe not, because I’m sure that he would get me into at least half a dozen scrapes by the time the day was over. He’s one of those characters you love to pieces, but he still makes you crazy. Although he develops beautifully throughout the trilogy, he never loses those oh-so-endearing quirks.
2. The pacing. There is simply no good place in that entire trilogy to stop reading, no matter how many times I’ve read it. The entire first book takes place in one week, the trilogy in less than a year, and you never get a chance to pause for breath.
3. The opening. If my shameless praise doesn’t convince you that this book is worth reading, go read the first two sentences. And if you think they’re good now, read them again after you’ve read the entire book.
4. The humor. Sage is irrepressible. No matter what’s gone wrong, Sage has a quip to prove that he’s not as beaten as the world thinks he should be.
5. Everything is important. The best stories never mention something without a purpose. Even the barest passing remark comes back in the end. Jennifer Nielsen is a master of this, and by the time The Shadow Throne wraps up, you’re left with the most satisfying sensation of everything tied together in a brilliantly complex bow. Even loose threads you didn’t know were loose threads are no longer loose threads.