by Jennifer Nielsen
First sentence: “I had arrived early for my own assassination.”
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Others in the series: The False Prince
ARC brought back from ABA Winter Institute for me by my co-workers.
Obviously, there will be spoilers for The False Prince. If you haven’t read that yet, you should.
Sage — now King Jaron — has had a month to settle into his new life. To be frank about it: it’s not going well. His regents don’t really like or trust him (the feeling’s mutual), he’s not really getting along with the princess he’s supposed to marry, and his chief captain is not exactly helpful. Things just come to a head on the night of his family’s funeral with a (failed) assassination attempt by the pirates.
Which leaves Jaron — who is convinced war is coming, even if his regents refuse to see it — with one option: go to the pirates and deal with them head-on.
And, because he’s Sage, that means things won’t go exactly as planned. (Not that there was a plan to begin with, mind you.)
I didn’t reread The False Prince first, so I was a little worried I wouldn’t remember enough to keep up with this story. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case: I immediately fell back into Neilsen’s world was thoroughly taken with Jaron/Sage’s story. There’s a lot of action and adventure here as Jaron tries to keep his kingdom from thoroughly collapsing, from the thief camp to the pirate camp and back again. One of the things I liked most about this was the way Nielsen kept Sage/Jaron’s personality pretty much the same (from what I remembered) as in the False Prince, enabling the book to have a sense of levity to it, while giving him the weight necessary to be a good ruler. (Yes, he still reminds me of Gen.)
On the other hand, there is also a lot of posturing by the minor characters (how many times to they have to say “Don’t do that” before they realize he’s just NOT going to listen!), not to mention all the growling of the Big Baddies. (Especially the pirate king. He was just a bit too stereotypical thuggish.) And I do have to admit that Roden’s motivations weren’t always consistent or clear, both of which did get a wee bit annoying.
But not enough for me to dislike the book. For the most part, I found myself immersed in the book, not willing to put it down, wanting to know just how Jaron was going to make everything work for him.