By Jennifer A. Nielsen
Scholastic, $17.99, 342 pages

Carthya is a kingdom that is breaking and is now without a king. Sage is one of a handful of orphans purchased from his orphanage by a nobleman, Conner. Not one for being under someone’s control, Sage is disturbed to hear Conner’s true plan: one of the boys will take the newly empty throne as Prince Jaron, who went missing at sea four years ago.  Sage decides he will play the prince and outwit Conner at his own political game.

It’s rare to find a book that is so good that the reader knows they will like it after reading only the first page or two. Happily, The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen is such a book.  Sage is a fantastic character and his persona leaps off the page. He is smart, arrogant, reckless yet oddly moral and loyal to his friends and his country. The plot is complex, yet clearly written and the story isn’t dumbed down for it’s younger audience, which is refreshing. The supporting characters are also well written and complex – there are no stereotypes or one-note characters in this book. This is a marvelous to start to a trilogy that promises to be highly entertaining.

Reviewed by Barbara Cothern