The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The royal family is dead and Carthya is on the brink of civil war. One nobleman, Conner, has hatched a plan to avoid the civil war that may come about. Three orphans have been selected to be trained to impersonate a missing prince. Only one can be chosen from the three; the other two will meet foul ends. Each orphan bears a slight resemblance to the late Prince Jaron, in actions as well as appearance, but they all lack various princely attributes.
As Sage, Tobias, and Roden struggle to learn swordsmanship, writing, reading, history, and manners, they begin to understand there is more to Conner’s plan than he originally stated. Tobias and Redon quickly generate their own schemes to become the chosen prince, but Sage is more reluctant. Having no desire to commit treason against the crown, Sage rebels against Conner and his tactics, but soon learns he must fall in line if he wants to survive. In the end, which one will Conner choose?
Sage is a street-smart, spirited boy who has enough courage to become the prince, but lacks the manners necessary to pull it off well. Throughout the story he becomes Conner’s favorite choice, but often falls out of favor through his actions. He is complex, resourceful, and just clever enough to beat the other orphans and Conner himself. I truly loved how this main character was portrayed and how his adventurous spirit slowly wins the loyalty of some of the other characters in the book.
Another well-developed character in the story is Imogen. Imogen is a strong-willed, smart housemaid in Conner’s household. Purchased by Conner when her mother fell into debt (a debt caused by Conner, no less), Imogen uses her intelligence to go unnoticed by him. When the orphans are brought to Conner’s home, she quickly strikes up a friendship with Sage.
With well-rounded characters and an intriguing plot, this story may very well keep you guessing until the end. The action is non stop, with layers of deceit and treachery around every bend. Through many twists and mysteries, the story leads to a fascinating reveal at the end. I would suggest this book to boys and girls alike, and happily anticipate the remaining two books in the trilogy.
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