by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Conditional Recommendation: A clever young king is forced into disguise and a perilous adventure to outsmart his enemies and save his kingdom.
*This review contains spoilers if you have not read the first book, The False Prince.*
Yes! Yes! Yes! This is how a second book in a trilogy is done! In this sequel to The False Prince (read that review here) the stakes are higher, the suspense more riveting, and the characters are pushed to even more extremes. This book definitely brings more suspense than the first so be prepared to not want to put it down! I listened to the audio book (which I recommend) and it was all I could do not to pick up a physical copy so I could read it faster.
Jaron has just taken his rightful place as king of Carthya but the regents refuse to support him and to prepare for the war that Jaron is sure is coming, instead they seek to vote him out as king and put a steward in his place until he comes of age. Then, an assassination attempt forces Jaron to make his own haphazard plans to seek out the pirates that were hired to kill him four years ago, and again to kill him now. Before his regents replace him with a steward and before his identity is discovered, Jaron must destroy the threat to his country. His life and Carytha’s future depends on his victory.
Nielsen does a great job of maintaining the characters as you came to know them in the first book while stretching them to new limits in the second book. She succeeds again in giving the reader an exciting ride with Jaron through his perilous adventures. The suspense was riveting. Actually, it was quite painful at times because there’s life to live in between reading this book and the suspense was killing me. To avoid giving spoilers, I will say that at one point I became quite angry at how much of a pinch Jaron was in. I mean could he get even more stuck and be anymore injured?! I desperately wanted victory for him and the hardships only increased that wanting. This is suspense done well.
Imogen plays a role in this book, as I expected she would, and it is acknowledged that there might be a romantic relationship brewing; however, this book is full of twists and I’ll just leave it at that! A new noteworthy character in this story is Master Harlowe who lives near the Avenian border. He is respected by his countrymen and is nothing but honorable. His dealings with Jaron, even in unpleasant circumstances, speak of his integrity. I really enjoyed him and hope to see more of him in the third book.
The goodness of the first book carries on in this one: Sage is still the same perceptive, cunning, and intelligent character that he is in the first, his endeavors are for the benefit of others and he retains his uncanny skill at staying one step ahead of his enemies. The plot is engaging and well-crafted and the suspense is the cherry on top. Too often sequels do not live up to what the first book promises but in this case, Nielsen nails it! If you enjoyed The False Prince I am certain you will enjoy this book.
The ending is a pleasant mixture of happy, bittersweet, and suspenseful. The plot is wrapped up nicely but the stage is set for the final book in the trilogy.
This is a conditional recommendation for the same reasons as the first book. There are some scenes of violence, blood, and breaking bones but that’s about it for conditions that might make this book unsuitable for certain readers.