Review: The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen

THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats. 

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It took me a little while to get into The False Prince, but once I did, I was hooked! I purchased the novel via Audible and listened to the first half, then read the second half, which, for me, was much more enjoyable.

Though I found the first half of the novel interesting enough, I absolutely despised the voice actor’s portrayal of the main character, Sage. Though Sage is definitely a cocky character, the reader made him, in my opinion, too much of an ass. I really couldn’t stand him and almost gave up on the novel entirely just so I wouldn’t have to listen to Sage’s annoying and condescending tone anymore. Still, I liked the story itself, so I decided to give it one last chance and read the second half of the novel – and I am so glad! As I said, Sage is definitely sure of himself and, at times, full of himself, but I read him as much less annoying and I ended up speeding through the remainder of the novel.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel is that Sage is a very unreliable narrator. The reader can never be sure that Sage isn’t lying to the other characters… or even the reader! One moment I thought I knew what was motivating Sage’s actions and the next he’d do something completely unexpected, leaving me to retrace his steps and muddle through side comments and small details to figure out where I’d missed something important. 

At the novel’s close, many secrets were uncovered, but there is still some much that I hope will be explored in the next novels. The False Prince focused primarily on Sage and the two other boys competing for the role of prince and almost the entire novel is set in Connor’s palace, leaving me hopeful readers will get a closer look at the kingdom and its peoples and customs in subsequent novels. 

Scholastic, April 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780545284134, 342  pages.
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2 thoughts on “Review: The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen

  1. This is one of my favourite new MG books. It reads similarly to The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (a huge recommend if you haven't read it), but the character reads as younger. I'm not a huge fan of audiobooks, so I didn't find he came across as annoying, but I did find it was a little hard getting to the halfway point of the book (guilty truth: I skipped ahead to the ending, my bad!). I'm glad you liked it!

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