Monday, April 29, 2013

MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen


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!


Wow! That about covers it. I loved the first book, The False Prince, and I love this one just as much.  I enjoyed pretty much everything about this book, the characters, the setting, and the plot. Nielsen seems to have a knack for pulling the reader into her stories and never letting go. That was certainly the case for me here.

Character-wise, Jaron (Sage) dominates this book as he did the first one.  Unfortunately for him, he is stuck in a rather precarious position having been just accepted as king.  But he has little support even within his own court, let alone from his people and with his country just inches from war, Jaron much decide what to do about the pirates while facing the possibility of a steward taking his place until he is of age.  But Jaron's strength of will, cleverness, and love of country lead him to make a very risky decision, one that could cost him everything. And he doesn't seem to realize that he does have friends that will do anything to help him, whether he wants help or not. Despite Jaron's tendency to find trouble wherever he goes and his often obnoxious tendency to say what he thinks, not to mention pushing the buttons of everyone he meets, often to his own detriment, Jaron is a character I've loved since the beginning because of his courage and determination to do what needs to be done and his utter loyalty to those he cares about.

The secondary characters are just as great as Jaron.  Imogen, the friend that Jaron rejects in an attempt to protect her risks life and limb to stop Jaron from getting himself killed. Mott, Jaron's loyal bodyguard also seeks to protect the young king and demonstrates his loyalty in powerful ways. Even the bad guys have depth to them, evil as they are. And Roden, the former friend, turned enemy, on whom Jaron risks everything. Will the risk pay off or will it cost Jaron everything?

In terms of plot, Nielsen takes us on another breakneck ride, starting with the attempted assassination that occurs in chapter one. Disguises, disappearances, traitors, and pirates all play a key role in Jaron's journey. I'm going to leave it at that because I don't want to spoil anything, just know that the story is full of twists and turns, some expected, some not that will test Jaron to the breaking point.

Another fabulous story from a talented writer. I am dying to get my hands on book three. Highly, highly recommended. One of my favorite books ever!


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