Friday, March 1, 2013

The Runaway King

By Jennifer A. Nielsen
Read: February 20 - 22, 2013
Published: March 1, 2013 by Scholastic Press **TODAY**
Source: Net Gallery
Category: Fantasy, YA
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy book 2

NOTE: My thoughts contain spoilers for The False Prince. See my review HERE if you have yet to start this series. 

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! (From Goodreads)


Jaron has been king for only a few short weeks, and things aren't going so well for him. On the day of his family's funeral, someone tries to assassinate him, which is the same day he discovers that the Avenians and pirates are threatening war, and that his regents want to choose a steward to rule until he is an adult.  When the regents decide to send Jaron into hiding in order to protect him - but really to get him out of the way - he figures it's time to take matters into his own hands. Jaron resurrects the name of Sage and embarks on his own journey to save the kingdom. 

In true Sage fashion, Jaron continues to do exactly what no one expects - and make everyone upset at him in the process. Instead of going into hiding from the threat of pirates, Jaron decides to join them and fix his problems from the inside. I love how reckless Jaron can be, but also brave and smart and wise. He always has a purpose to his madness, but is constantly frustrating all the people around him. It is also very apparent  that Jaron cares for his kingdom. Although he is young, and most of the adults he knows think they know better than him, he possesses an inherent wisdom, willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed, as well as a fresh perspective that benefits from his experiences as a street urchin. Rule of thumb: Don't underestimate him. 

In becoming Sage again, Jaron uses his street smarts and cunning to survive. As usual, he gets himself into lots of dangerous and sometimes painful situations. But even when he is hiding that he is king, Sage continues to inspire and challenge those around him. He has a natural authority, and a personality that makes people want to pay attention to what he has to say. Just by the nature of who he is, he inspires others and makes friends, but also enemies who feel threatened by him. 

The Runaway King is told in first person from Jaron's POV, and I adore his inner dialogue. Despite the fact that he doesn't always reveal his motives, there is something honest and self deprecating about him that is so very endearing. He has a strong voice that makes this series shine. However, I do love many of the secondary characters as well. Old friends - and enemies - make an appearance, and we meet some new faces too. Jaron also travels throughout Carthya and into Avenia, and I enjoyed getting to know more about his kingdom and the surrounding countries. There are even two maps in this book, for those of you map lovers. 

Is there a love story in The Runaway King? Well the simple answer is that there isn't one, or at least that it's a very minor part of the plot. However, there is a character from the first book with whom Jaron has formed a strong friendship that is clearly turning into something more. They understand and care for each other, and  and are always working to support and protect the other. Unfortunately, as King, Jaron does not get to choose whom he marries, and he is betrothed to the princess that was promised to his brother. While I don't dislike Amarinda, I don't feel any attachment to her whatsoever. She hasn't done much to make me care about her at all, and frankly, is rather flat and uninteresting. Jaron is still young and has so much going on that this is not the main part of the story, and I prefer this. But I also am a sucker for love that builds slowly from a strong attachment and shared experiences, and I will continue to hold out hope that something will change for him. Or that I'll be convinced at the rightness of the person he's supposed to marry. 

The Runaway King is a great sequel to The False Prince. While I wasn't surprised by all the revelations and still consider the first one to be my favorite, the book was exciting. Plus, pirates!  Jaron is king now, and has big picture problems to solve. Although he is still the same mischievous boy at heart, he is maturing in his new role and greater responsibility. As someone who is used to working alone and not trusting anyone, Jaron is learning that he has a loyal network of support, and that it is okay to delegate to people that he trusts.  Although the plot of this story wraps itself up well, not everyone is safe and the end definitely sets up the action for the final book. I am excited and anxious for what is to come. 

Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium 


  1. I'm glad you're enjoying this series so much, Lauren! False Prince was good, but it reminded me too much of The Queen's Thief Series for my taste and I wasn't impressed, so I know I won't be continuing this trilogy. Still, fantastic review as always!(:

    1. I definitely respect that opinion, Keertana. I read the first book before I'd started The Queen's Thief, and looking back, I can definitely see similarities. MWT's series is far more complex and the characters are stronger over all. However, I didn't want to cloud this review with a comparison, so I left it out purposefully. I do think there is merit to these books, and I think they will really appeal to boys, especially middle school and early high school. Plus, I enjoy this series for myself, and I am invested in the characters and plot - especially Sage and Imogen.

  2. Okay, I admittedly SKIMMED (other than last paragraph) because I will hopefully be reading this one soon and want to go in as blank as possible, BUT I am really happy to see that you enjoyed it (if not quite so much as the first). I just don't even know how to think of him as anyone but Sage...that name change makes me sad. I wasn't at all surprised by anything in the first book, so I doubt I will be here either, but going in knowing that will, I think, help me enjoy.

    1. I prefer the name Sage as well! I hope you still enjoy this one though.

  3. Ack -- another series I need to read. I keep saying I don't read fantasy, and then keep making a liar out of myself :)

  4. This series has been on my list for a while too. And I know that Heidi and Keertana are fans so that, along with your praise, makes me want to read these even more.

    1. Heather, I think you'll like this one! It's definitely a series boys will love. The Queen's Thief series is similarish but stronger (once you get past the first book).

  5. I'm reading this right now! I just started but I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm excited to read more about Sage!

    1. YAY for Sage. Love that name, and that boy. Hope you enjoy this one too!


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