Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book Review: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Disclaimer: DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU'VE READ THE FALSE PRINCE. I cannot be more insistent on this. Normally when review a sequel I try to not reveal enough about the first book than I have to so that in case someone accidentally reads it the first book won't be too ruined for them, however I cannot avoid utterly ruining the amazingness of the first installment as I review this. You can however read my review of The False Prince and then pick up a copy, whether from your local library or from buying because, trust me you don't want to miss this addictive trilogy.

Note: This is technically classified as a Middle Grade/Middle Reader but it's ambiguous enough that anyone of any age will enjoy it.

Release Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Length: 352 pages

"A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen's blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!"

Protagonist: Jaron returns in this thrilling sequel, this time as the newly appointed king of Carthya, but not everyone supports his rise to the throne, especially those who sent assassins after him. In an effort to not only keep himself alive but to strengthen his country for impending war he leaves his castle to do the impossible. He once again must don the persona of Sage, the rambunctious and troublesome thief introduced in the beginning of The False Prince and search for the only way to both weaken his enemy while reinforce his own troops. Though Jaron rarely lies he has a talent for using the truth to his advantage and can mold it so that his identity isn't while traveling to enemy lands.

Romance: Once again the romance is no where near the forefront of this installment, and rightly so. This series is full of so much that makes it great, and while this volume has a more solidified romance than it's predecessor it's never more than the perfect amount. This romance does include a love triangle and a pretty even one at that, more or less. I can easily see Jaron eventually ending up with either girl, though I do have a preference as to who will make it to the end,as I'm sure many others will as well.

World-Building: In this section of the trilogy we not only learn more about this world that the author has built for us, but see much more of it as well. We get to see Avenia, the currently passive aggressive neighbor to Carthya and the some small locations within. We also learn about the pirates who once tried to take Jaron's life when he first went missing and see what's become of them. There is a good amount of court intrigue and politics that are introduced and we see where King Eckbert's passive nature of treaties has effected the  reputation of this country.

Predictability: Author, Jennifer Nielsen, is probably one of the most unpredictable writers I've ever read. That being said I was able to predict some of the smaller twists in this book however there were many  that I was unable to predict, and there were a plethora of twists. Before reading this book I couldn't imagine that, at least in terms of predictability, this could top the twist from the previous book. The author must have come to the same realization as she, instead of aiming for a bigger or equal twist, decided to add more twists to make this book even better. The bulk of the twists were revealed near the climax, right where they should be, and I had literally gotten to a point where I seemed to be constantly bombarded with the unforeseeable, however it never got to a point where it seemed like too much.

Ending: Let me preface this by saying that before I even finished this book I was aching for the next installment which will never come soon enough even if I get an advanced copy (though I sincerely hope I do.) So the last few chapters were winding down from the previous events, but that doesn't mean that the drama ever stopped. There was only one point where there was nothing too exciting happening, which must have been the calm before the storm because it ended with one of the most tortuous twists I've ever read.

Overall, this book can get no lower than a full 5 out of 5 stars. This book does what I thought would have been impossible and it topped it's predecessor, I won't that mistake when I read this final volume in this breathtaking trilogy. Also, after reading this book I had no choice but to claim Jennifer A. Nielsen as my favorite Middle Grade author; tied with Rick Riordan of course and those of you who know my obsession with mythology know I wouldn't say that lightly.

P.S. For those few VA/Bloodlines by Richelle Mead fans that may be reading this review, you should check out my giveaway for a signed copy of The Indigo Spell, the newest volume of the Bloodlines series which will be out in a week from today. Anyone is welcome to enter as it is International!

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