Title: The False Prince
Author: Jennifer A. Nielson
Sage is no ordinary orphan teenage boy living in the poorest part of Avenia, with a stubborn , rebellious attitude and sharp mind he refuses to be beaten. His life changes dramatically when one day, he is taken by the mysterious noble Conner. He is told where he will be taken or of what will become of him, but also captured are three other boys Latimer, the sickly, Tobias, the educated and Roden, the brave and strong. The boys are all of a similar age and appearance. It is soon revealed that the plan is for one of these boys to impersonate the Prince Jaron of Carthya, who disappeared years ago when his ship was attacked by pirates. With the royal family under attack from within, it is time for the Prince to fulfil his duty. Conner will choose the boy who appears to him most similar to the Prince, and as for the other three; they must be disposed of.
Sage understands that this twisted competition is something he cannot lose, and as a skilled thief and quick thinker he applies his skills, but antagonises Conner when he refuses to bend and obey anyone. Conner’s Prince must be obedient, loyal and willing to embrace a lifetime of lies. Sage cannot force himself and it seems that, unlike the other boys, he wants nothing less than the throne. However, he realises he has responsibilities as only he can save the other boys who are not chosen. Imogen, a young abused servant girl in Conner’s household, attracts his attention. Her mother refused Conner and as revenge for this Imogen was taken and is now forced to feign muteness in order to escape Conner’s advances. She is one of Sage’s few companions in the castle but says she will refuse to accept him if he becomes the Prince, unable to imagine why anyone would choose a life of deception, if there was any other option.
Torn between the truth, which he had never wanted to accept, and the lie which he is living, Sage must make a decision; the orphan or the prince? However the mysterious orphan hides more secrets than Conner could ever have realised. When he picked Sage up off the streets it was both his greatest achievement, but also his biggest mistake.
A gripping, exciting novel, packed with action and adventure, once you begin this book it is impossible to put down. Perfect for both boys and girls ages 11-16! The character of the Orphan Prince is entertaining and likeable, but never arrogant. The book also contains themes such as assassination, poverty, pirates and royalty and has the classic characters such as evil nobles grasping for control of the throne, Conner’s ruthless accomplice, Cregan and the suffering Princess Amarinda, betrothed to the heir of the throne, but in love with Jaron’s brother, Darius.
I would give this 8/10!