~~~~3.25 - 3.5 Stars~~~~
This book was a mixed bag of uuuwww interesting...no wait booooo... yawn....no wait MEH... no wait YAY!! Confused? I was too but I'll elaborate.
I loved the MCs voice through and through! His attitude and delivery of witty quips was perfectly executed and fun to read.
The mission? Try and turn one of three 14 year old (illiterate?), uncouth orphans into a long lost prince in 2 weeks time in order to seize control of a recently vacated throne. Wellll....it turns out that making a prince is slow, tedious and oft times a chore to read about. The storyline wasn't boring per se but it felt like I was working...working on my patience/ concentration levels.
I know this book was very well received but, for me, I was ready to start skimming before the halfway mark (definitely NOT a good sign!). I have so many tantalizing books on my formidable TBR pile that wasting time on a read that has gone sour just feels wrong. BUUUUT I soldiered on. At about the 70% mark things picked up and even though the twists weren't entirely surprising, it unfolded brilliantly. I really enjoyed the main reveal and how all of the subsequent events played out. From page 1 Sage (prince Jaron??) felt visceral and his attitude towards possibly sitting on the throne (with the weight of carrying a country soon to be at war on his shoulders) not only felt genuine but congruant with who he was from start to finish. This will go down as one of THOSE books...you know the type...the ones that draw you in and then somewhere in the middle test your resolve to see things through to the acknowledgments page and then BAM!! You're suddenly as happy as a thoroughly petted pup that you chose to persevere because it was one of THOSE books that come through (shining big sunny literary smiles) in the home stretch....GASP...end of run on rambling!!
I definitely ended up enjoying this book more than I thought I would but not LOVING it as much as most.
The False Prince is very easy to read, but it's kind of a strange reading experience. It takes a loooong time for the story to get going and then the ending is quite abrupt. The twists are pretty easy to spot* especially after having reread all of Turner's The Queen's Thief series earlier this year. Nielsen uses similar techniques to Turner just not as successfully.
I will check out the second book just to see where the story's going, and Nielsen's other trilogy, Mark of the Thief, sounds interesting so I'll probably check that out as well. I'm mostly just trying to fill the void finishing Thick as Thieves has left if my life. If it all goes badly, I might just read The Queen's Thief series all over again.
*The biggest reveal comes in the middle of the book, so you're not kept waiting the whole time at least.
The Ascendance Trilogy wasn't everything I hoped it would be.
I was hoping for an exciting Middle Grade story with well-written characters and a strong plot. What I got was a moderately fun Middle Grade story with boring, flat characters and a predictable, forced plot.
The first book was by far the best. Had it stayed a stand-alone, I think I would have enjoyed it much more. Unfortunately, book one was followed by books two and three where the characters didn't change and plot got worse.
It's like a coming of age story, but no one came of age.
I'm sure the target audience of 10 to 12 years olds will be much more forgiving that I am, and the basic story was a lot of fun. I'll be sharing it with my kids, but for anyone else looking for a kings-and-swords Middle Grade story, I'll send them to Brandon Mull's Beyonders before give them The False Prince.