March 06, 2013

Book Review: THE RUNAWAY KING by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book:  The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy #2)
Author:  Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Category:  Young Adult Fantasy

“I had arrived early for my own assassination.”- Jaron

“You have become so unstable, obviously the only thing wrong is with you.”- Gregor

“…you are Jaron’s friend.  I have so few friends I don’t say that lightly.  You don’t belong here.  You never did.”- Sage

“I don’t belong in your world, Jaron.  You have the princess.  Win her heart.  Be hers.”- Imogen

“Do you hate me, because I’m not her, because you’ll have to marry me one day?”-  Princess Amarinda

Description Via Goodreads:

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!

********SPOILER ALERT********SPOILER ALERT********

Jaron is King. But someone wants him dead.  He believes the surrounding kIngdoms, especially Avenia headed by its King Vargan along with the Avenian pirates, plan to invade Carthya, his kingdom. After a failed assassination attempt, by his former friend no less, the regents are pushing for a steward in his stead.  Buying himself a few days, Jaron sets out with his trusted friends Mott and Tobias.  He then leaves both behind with a plan for Tobias to secretly take his place as King temporarily while he sets off to look for the pirates, the very ones who tried to MURDER him years before and set his life as an orphan and a thief in motion. 

On the way Jaron, who once again has taken his orphan name Sage, rescues the granddaughter of a nobleman named Harlowe.  Later on he meets and is set up by a young thief named Fink to be captured by their group headed by Erick.  Sage convinces Erick to take him to the pirates and  there in Tarblade Bay, the home of the pirates, he finally meets Devlin, the pirate king.  Baiting Devlin with his knowledge of the Royal treasury’s secret location, Devlin accepts Sage and brands him as one of them.  What Sage didn’t expect was to find a friend, the one he would do anything for, with the pirates…..

Jaron/Sage hasn’t changed.  He is still the same boy we met and loved in The False Prince:  reckless, impatient, frustrating, impulsive, snarky, brutally honest and every other not so good adjective you can possibly think of.  He can be annoying but you will end up rooting for him still.  He does what he thinks he has to do for his people and his country.  And since he spent years with no one to trust, he cannot see his friends for what they are and how much they care for him.  Jaron does things his own way so it is a miracle (plus clever writing) and pure luck that he survives through everything.

As a hero and a King, Jaron is flawed.  So much so that while reading I wanted to smack the (imaginary) king so many times I was squeezing my tablet instead.  But he is BRAVE and LOYAL.  And he would willingly give up his life and his freedom for the people he loves.

Obviously I REALLY love this book.  There were no dull moments.  From start to finish I could not put it down.  Every page, every second, was an adventure I loved being on.  I was scared most of the time for Sage and could only breathe a sigh on the 2nd to the last chapter.  As for the end?  The cliffhanger will leave you wanting the 3rd and last installment of the Ascendance trilogy NOW.  I honestly cannot wait for the next book. 

I also like that the characters we loved in the 1st book are present here.  Mott, Tobias, Kerwyn, Roden, Imogen and Amarinda.  Of them all I like Amarinda the most.  Not just because she is the princess and future wife of Jaron, but I appreciate her loyalty, love for Carthya and quiet strength. There is a touch of romance in The Runaway King, but none too distracting.  Hopefully there will be more in the next book.

Jennifer Nielsen is a wonderful writer.  She has created in these books a world I would dare not live in but would need to see and feel if only in my imagination.

Read The Runaway King. But before this do read the 1st book, The False Prince.  And fall in love with the Prince who would be His Majesty. Jaron, the Ascendant King of Carthya.

Here’s my review of THE FALSE PRINCE:

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