The book is touted as a YA fantasy, but there is not much fantasy past the make-believe kingdom of Carthya, with its royalty, castles, and orphanages. Since I’m not into mystical creatures that I can’t keep track of, that made it all the better for me. What this story did have was characters that jumped from the page. I loved Jennifer’s ability to create distinctly different, memorable characters. This was especially the case with her protagonist, Sage. He certainly had an attitude. It was reckless enough to be interesting, but not to the point of making you nervous. I couldn’t help but cheer for him. I loved how she gained her inspiration for this character from the lines of a song, “I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me.”
Sage is one of four orphans who are taken from various orphanages as part of a treasonous plan by one of the king’s regents. Conner, the regent, knows that the king, queen and heir to the throne are dead, their deaths being kept secret for the time being. Conner’s plan is to pass off one of these orphans as the king’s other son, presumed killed by pirates four years earlier, though his body was never recovered. Sage must learn to pass as the lost prince in two weeks time. He knows that if he isn’t the one chosen to be the false prince, Conner will never let him live—he will know too much.
The story is full of twist and turns, action and adventure. I met a small hiccup, however, when about two thirds through the book, the direction of the story took a turn. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t expecting this turn. I became confused for a moment and had to go back a few pages to clarify things. But this didn’t stop me from enjoying the ride. I can’t wait for the second in the series.
Jennifer A. Nielsen lives in my neck of Utah, and that makes her success even more exciting to me as a fellow writer. I wish her the best with her new series.