The False Prince (Ascendance Trilogy Book #1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen
"In a faraway land, civil war is brewing. To unify his kingdom's divided people, a nobleman named Conner devises a cunning plan to place an impersonator of the king's long-lost son on the throne. Four orphans are forced to compete for the role, including a defiant and clever boy named Sage. Sage knows 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. As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of duplicity and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together."
What an adventure! I enjoyed this book a lot. I liked Ms. Nielsen's writing style because it was smart and witty, it flowed well, and it sucked me in from the first page. It was a fast, easy read, yet it definitely packed a punch. It was full of surprises, sword fights, lies, competition, allies, enemies, secret tunnels, and arranged marriages. The character development in this book is very well done. All of the boys are lifelike, realistic, and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Conner, Mott, and Cregan are scary, intimidating, and also lifelike. I completely got sucked into life in Carthya. I liked how each of the boys handled the situation differently, and in their own way. I liked the mystery and how the truth was finally found. I didn't like Conner at all! Imogen was an interesting character. I felt like a lot of the story line was directed around her, and I'm not sure why. It makes me wonder if maybe she comes in more in the second two books? Anyway, this is a fun story, and I have already called the library to put numbers two and three on hold! I can't wait! My 11 year-old also loved the book.
This book doesn't have any profanity (thank you!!!) or "intimacy" (thank you!!!), but it does have some violence. A character is shot and killed right in front of the boys' eyes; it was brutal and traumatizing. The boys live in fear of being killed at any moment. Another, lesser character is killed also. They are pretty much in a competition for their lives, so there is some violence between the boys as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.
Rating: PG+ ( There isn't any profanity or "intimacy," but there is violence. A main character is shot and killed right in front of the other main characters, and it is traumatizing to them. Another character is killed also, and there is some rivalry violence between the boys.
Recommendation: 4th grade and up. This is a great middle-grader book, and I think both girls and boys will like it. It would make a great read-aloud as well.