Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: The Runaway King - Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy #2
Genre: Middle Grade, adventure
Published on March 1, 2013
Published by Scholastic Press
Pages: 331
Read From: 3.6.13 - 3.8.13

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 with Cathya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. 
As his adventures lead him into dangerous new territory, Jaron must learn to tell his friends from his enemies and decide who he can trust - if he can trust anyone at all. 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?


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes. It’s simple, it’s a pretty color, the title font is exciting, and more importantly - there are no character impersonators.

Characters: Sage/Jaron (I prefer to call him Sage) is awesome beyond words. He has got to be one of my absolute favorite male protagonists out there. He’s sarcastic without having the male version of The Attitude (arrogant, flirtatious, cocky). His arrogance and cockiness feel more like a persona he has adopted to protect his feelings, rather than who he actually is, and so it is very easy to believe that for all of his swagger, Sage really does care about his friends and country. He jokes around, but he has a grasp of politics, and he isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done to protect his people. I love protagonists who do what’s practical. A protagonist’s reluctance to just kill someone is desirable, and Sage often expresses his dislike for fighting, but if someone has to be done away with, he’ll do it and not spends hours in moral conflict. It may be honorable to spare your enemy, but everyone knows that in the world of literature (and real life sometimes), sparing your enemy just gives him an opportunity to come back. Sage has an almost ridiculous amount of luck on his side, but somehow that didn’t irritate me; it just made me like him all the more. Fink is a new favorite, too, even though he’s a bit of a rat. Deep down, he’s still a poor kid who doesn’t know any better, pretends strength that he doesn’t feel, and in the end does what’s right. I loved Fink and Sage’s friendship. And as for Devlin, the pirate king and “main” villain of the book: I liked him. He isn’t the most terrifying villain I’ve ever met, but he is definitely intimidating and cruel. Not every villain has to be the world’s scariest guy, especially when they’re not the main dude.

The Romance: There actually is a hint of a potential love triangle: Amarinda, Sage, and Imogen. I love Imogen - she’s strong and knows how to deal with Sage. At first, I didn’t care much for Amarinda, but by the end of The Runaway King, I actually came to really care about her, and I will honestly be perfectly happy with whichever girl Sage ends up with. The romance, however, is extremely subtle in this book, and I liked it that way.

Plot: Just as Sage warned in The False Prince, war is coming to Carthya. But Sage’s advisers don’t have much faith in Sage’s ability to rule, and they would rather peace-talk their way out of a war that is inevitable, than stand strong and say no to the invaders. Meanwhile, Sage’s enemies have decided that an assassination attempt would be in their best interests, and seeing no other option, Sage runs away from Carthya . . . And right into the enemies’ hands. But it’s all part of a well thought-out plan, so no worries, right? The plot of The Runaway King isn’t as twisty and full of surprises as The False Prince. But it’s still really good, and perhaps because it has fewer surprises, the flow of the story is better. Even without all of the huge surprises, this plot is still exciting and highly engaging. And it’s not entirely devoid of twists; there was one that I was definitely not expecting.

Believability: The Author’s pirates are convincing in the fact that they are mercenaries, they really only use their ships to get from one place to another (historical pirates were not, in fact, known to be very good seamen), and their “pirate code” was a believable set of rules, and not some silly set of laws every pirate in the world adhered to, like in Pirates of the Caribbean. These pirates were criminals - not romanticized outlaws in search of freedom. The only thing that struck me as slightly inaccurate was that the pirates respected and cared for their serving girls, but on one hand, if the pirate king decreed it for obvious reasons, I suppose they would obey. And anyway, I’m not going to complain about the lack of accurate sexual assault that would likely occur; it wasn’t needed. Another thing that I appreciated was the accuracy of the wounds characters received. This Author definitely isn’t afraid to harm her characters, and she does a good job of portraying broken limbs and bruises and cuts and welts. When Sage dueled with a broken leg, it could have turned ridiculous, but the fight takes a definite toll on him, he does have a splint, and he only does as good as he does because his opponent doesn’t take advantage of his injury.

Writing Style: While the style is nothing special, and the dialogue rather modern, Sage’s narration is so hilarious that I have a hard time criticizing it. I was laughing out loud several times.

Content: None.

Conclusion: It’s quite exciting, and the climax is suspenseful. It isn’t a ridiculous cliffhanger, but I am certainly anxious for the third book. All in all, The Runaway King was a resounding success. The False Prince is my favorite out of the two because the plot has more surprises, but this one’s flow was definitely better, and it was every bit as good as the first book.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, any age, perfect for Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband Chronicles fans.

Others in The Ascendance Trilogy:
1)The False Prince
2)The Runaway King
3)The Shadow Throne


  1. I truly loved the whole The Ascendance Trilogy it is my favourite series of all times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    1. It's an awesome series. Have you started/seen her new series yet? It looks like it's going to be really good!


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