Spoiler Warning: This review contains some spoilers for anyone who hasn't read The False Prince, the first title in the Ascendance Trilogy. If you haven't read it, well, you should—it's fantastic.
Title: The Runaway King
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Genre: Medieval Fantasy
The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen continues the story of The False Prince, the first book in the Ascendance Trilogy, and follows young King Jaron who must choose between saving himself, his friends, and his country—all while masquerading as one of the low-life pirates hired to kill him, who also happen to be working for the nobles who assassinated his family. Palace intrigue, chases, sword fights, and Jaron's deviously clever plots abound in this second installment of the trilogy.
Every rare once in a while, I will be reading a book and will have to look away from the page—or perhaps get up and pace—because everything is just so epic and cool and the plot is running everywhere and I'm starting to figure things out and I just can't bear the suspense. I have to take a breather from reading a book.
The Runaway King is one such book. The characters and Nielsen's style give it such heart and drama and humor that it was impossible for me to put it down—other than the aforementioned pacing. Frankly, some of the twists I saw coming, but Nielsen's brilliance lies in using the twists to cover up the bigger twists and I'm still left surprised.
Cons of the story: As in its predecessor, The Runaway King contains multiple references to 'the devils' (and some regarding 'the saints'). Jaron, having been a thief and an orphan and still being a mischievous character, often talks about whether or not the devils will smile at him and allow his actions to pass. In the context of the story, these 'devils' seem to represent luck. The logical conclusion is that the devils are the harbingers of bad luck, and the saints for good. However, since the main character lives his life in a gray area, its the devils that are brought up the most. As if, by amusing them, he might somehow appease them.
On the brighter side, I don't think I've come across one foul word, and the content of these young adult fantasies is surprisingly clean.
Truly, I loved The Runaway King and have high expectations for the last installment in this series.