Sunday, October 28, 2012
The Fabulous and Snarky Prince
Wherever there is royalty, there is jealousy. No one is ever content with the king or queen, and everyone wants to live the life of royalty. But in The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, we get a taste of just how difficult life as a crowned prince can be form the perspective of three former orphans training to fool the kingdom into believing they are the kingdom's long lost prince.
Sage has never been someone people felt sorry for or took pity on. Instead, more people want him dead than you can imagine, but that is life as an orphan who must lie, cheat, steal for a meal. When an obviously wealthy man comes to the orphanage to buy Sage, it doesn't take long for him to reveal his unwillingness to be sold as someone's servant (aka slave). But something seems fishy about this man, especially when he also collects three other orphans who look rather similar to Sage. What does he have planned for them?
Sage and the other boys soon learn Conner's plan, and it is a dangerous one. As the King, Queen, and crowned Prince have all been murdered and secretly hidden away under the guise of traveling to a nearby country, Connor plans to groom one of the boys into passing as Prince Jaron, the royal family's youngest son whose ship was attacked by pirates four years earlier, but whose body was never found. Unfortunately, Connor is ruthless in his plans to control the throne through fake Jaron, and he isn't afraid to go to great lengths to be sure to control the boy he picks for the assignment. For Sage, the boy whose reputation for defying authority precedes him, that doesn't make him the frontrunner for this competition. But Sage doesn't care!
This was an excellent story that would be great for any middle reader through young adult reader who likes stories like King Arthur. This is a great story of treachery, betrayal, and the determination to fool and punish your enemies. I think it is a marvelous beginning to a series that is going to keep us hooked, and I can imagine many of my students who would love to start this trilogy.
Sage is a fabulous character. He makes no apologies for his behavior and he is the epitome of defiance. I think a lot of teen readers would look up to Sage for sticking to his guns and not giving in to pressures. Even though they probably won't relate to his life as an orphan, I don't know many teens who wouldn't relate to defiance against authority. And Sage is the kind of character you can't help but love even though he refuses to do anything just because it is "the right thing to do"! So if you know that kid who just can't seem to follow the rules and has a bit of a chip on their shoulder, give them this book. It will do them good to see a character with a need for defiance!