Book Review No. 1 (Spoiler-free)
Book: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy
Genre: YA Low Fantasy/Alternate History
Content for the Sensitive Reader: Two violent deaths (neither too graphic), level of sword-fighting and skullduggery usual in fantasy, no foul language or overwrought romance.
BookmarkedOne Rating: 9/10
Completion Date: July 10, 2019
It was really, really good.
I didn’t really expect it to be. I stumbled across the book online, looked at the beautiful cover, read the first chapter and settled comfortably into the main character’s voice.
A thief story, I thought. Give it here.
I have a weakness for such characters.
I didn’t expect it to be as awesome as it was. My faith in the YA genre is, well, it’s slim at best. I generally don’t pick up books there unless they come with recommendations or I’ve researched them thoroughly. I am not into reading for occult magic rites poorly written into literature for a cheap thrill mixed with overdone kissing.
I thought I’d give it half a chance. Went to my library, and there it was, waiting for me.
I got home and plunged inside.
Okay, as far as my first demand, that it be at least a fair pickpocket book? Consider it met with flying colors. Sage is a good thief. A really good thief. The kind that keeps stealing and only mentions it in the story later because it’s so natural to him. And he has the cocky voice of a kid living on his own who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. Or at least seems not to.
I’d heard rumor that Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief had a better pickpocket character and voice. I’m going to go out on a limb because I haven’t read it yet and say that’s wrong. It may be Nielsen’s rival, but I doubt it can beat Sage. I loved his voice in the book and the way it carried the story.
Beyond my demand that it be a halfway decent thief book, Nielsen presented a dramatic, high-politics plot. The kind where if you want to live, you don’t stab your enemy, you let him stab you so you can have proof of his villainy. I don’t usually go in for super-political books, or low fantasy. This one technically wasn’t even low fantasy, since there isn’t a magical element from beginning to end. But this is one of those rare occasions I have to admit the author didn’t need it to weave a good yarn. The tension of survival, the way instincts have to be turned upside-down–it was good. Well-thought out on every level. And then with a plot twist (not entirely unexpected?) right before the conclusion that was absolutely delicious.
After I got into the book it didn’t take me long to read it. I was ecstatic I’d actually found a good YA book and wanted to see the end. I read most of the second half aloud, letting the words flow over me and build the conflicted city of Carthya with my voice, the story of an entire world, and the story of one boy.
I liked it so much that when I finished it, I started reading it again aloud, from the beginning.
And then I found out there was a sequel.
If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear what you thought of it! Feel free to leave comments about anything you think I skipped over, or a favorite scene you want to share. Just make sure to label your comment if it contains spoilers. Leave me book recommendations, and if I find a new favorite, you might see it reviewed (with a thank you!).
And if you haven’t read the book, well, go read it.
Happy reading, all!