Jan 14, 2013

Audio Review: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
April 1st, 2012 from Scholastic

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.

Sometimes a book comes along and you kick yourself for not reading it sooner. This, my friends, is a fine example. Orphan boys all playing against each other in a "be the Prince or die" game is pretty entertaining to read about. I absolutely loved Sage and, of course, rooted for him to win the crown the entire time. His determination, wit, and street smarts are without a doubt one of the best parts of this book. He doesn't have much of a choice to play along with Conner's evil plan to take over the kingdom, but Sage certainty makes life difficult for Conner and his cronies  He manipulates others and pulls off some pretty sweet cons of his own. Young readers will love Sage's will to stay alive and his ability to turn things around to his favor on a dime. Dare I say he is the fantasy version of a young James Bond? (minus the high tech gadgets, of course) The supporting cast, two other boys who are all competing to become the false prince, a servant girl, and the confidant are all amazing characters as well. They each bring something original to the table and in the end your feelings go back and forth about them. Good guys, bad guys? At times the lines are blurred.

The twists and turns around every corner will keep readers of all ages tuned in. Charlie McWade does an outstanding job providing the voices for so many characters. His Sage voice is my favorite, although I do wish he had a little variation when he switched to his Carthian accent. Still...excellent! Can't wait for book two and hope you jump on this one soon. Ages 8+

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You can find Nielsen at her website
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