The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy

by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Hardcover, 2012

Call number




Scholastic Press (2012), Edition: F First Edition, First Printing, 352 pages


In the country of Carthya, a devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition to be selected to impersonate the king's long-missing son in an effort to avoid a civil war.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Abbsalah
Ultimately, I enjoyed this book, though it wasn't fantastic. I loved the first and last quarter of it, but the middle was quite slow. I found the main character interesting and very fun to read, but some of the supporting cast was downright dull. Some aspects of the plot were great and some were a
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bit weak. I'm hoping that the rest of the trilogy has stronger plot and writing.
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LibraryThing member yearningtoread
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson (#1)
Pages: 342
Release Date: April 1st, 2012
Date Read: 2012, April 27th-May 1st
Received: Library
Rating: 4/5 stars
Recommended to: 11+

Sage - orphan, thief, troublemaker. Rebellious. Never taking orders. But when his antics get him noticed, Sage is in
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for something bigger than anyone could have guessed. He and three other boys have been taken in, forced into a game of deceit, a plan full of lies. Who will win the prize? Who will live and who will die? Sage finds himself caught int he middle of a huge conspiracy, and he is the only one who can stop it.

Boy, I enjoyed this book one heck of a lot! Written beautifully, masterfully crafted...Nielson has some new talent that everyone should read and love. Intrigue! Romance! Conspiracy! Princes! Secret passageways! Secrets - lots of secrets! (And I hear Alan Tudyk saying, "Pain! Lots of pain!")

I had my ideas about the plot from the very beginning (which I usually avoid). A lot of them came to pass, which normally does not happen, those very few times I venture to guess, and which is why it felt a bit too predictable. Some things never happened and a few I ended up discarding because, no, there's no way that could be the case! Well, at least I was surprised where it counts, right? Beautifully twisted. My gosh! I just sat there with my mouth hung open. I laughed, incredulous. It's amazing.

Sage is quite a catch. He's 14(ish), totally cocky, and beyond a doubt brilliant. He is without a doubt one of the most original MC's I've ever come across.
(Yes, there is a "but".)
He broke my trust, and my heart. When I meet a character as vivid and personal as Sage, I throw my very hart and soul into the mix. So while that one very spoilery twist shocked me and amazed me, I couldn't help feeling a bit betrayed. It goes along with Sage's character in a way, but still! After that, I didn't trust him like before and found myself pulling away from the story a bit.
Besides that, I loved Sage, the story, the shocking twist that once seemed impossible, and the rest of the cast. I can't wait for more of Sage's story and to see what affect Roden, Tobias and Imogen will have on the story!

This book reminds me of...
Gold crowns (the kind you wear on your know, take a look at that gorgeous cover)
Rascal boys
Oliver Twist, The Prince and the Pauper, Scaramouche, and The Count of Monte Cristo (of which the latter two just happen to be two of the most brilliant books ever written)
Young love
Brillian boys who are undeniably attractive
Quick speed read

For the Parents -
Nothing! Recommended 11+
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LibraryThing member JLsBibliomania
While the supporting characters were a tad stereotypical and predictable, overall this book is a big win. Shelved by my library as YA (perhaps since the main character is 12), this book seems more suitable for the younger end of the "Middle grade" audience.

Reading as an adult, I predicted the big
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twist about 1/3 of the way through. It will be interesting to see if my fantasy obsessed, precocious reader son (currently in 3rd grade) also predicts the big reveal.

I can see why people compare The False Prince to The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. Of the two, I prefer The False Prince.
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LibraryThing member mt256
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen is the first book in the middle grade fantasy, The Ascendance Trilogy. The story focuses on Sage. He's a resourceful orphan who is usually up to no good. He catches the eye of Conner, a nobleman, who has taken three boys off the street to try and make them
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into a 'false prince'. However only one boy will be chosen and the other two will be executed.
Sage is a great character. He's clever, quick on his feet, and has a good heart. Along with the two other boys, Tobias and Roden, he does his best to be chosen as the long lost prince, Jaron. The boys' relationship is a precarious one at best. They are all in the same boat. This fact alone bonds them to each other and a friendship of sorts develops. Nevertheless they all want to be the chosen one. They are fighting to stay alive and using what ever skills they have to win which means they have to be aggressive and put whatever friendships they have aside. However Sage is astute. He realizes that things are not what they seem.
This is a great book for middle grade and above. Nielsen writes an intriguing story with lots of twists and turns. I had a hard time distinguishing the good guys from the bad. She doesn't give much away and it left me glued to the pages to find out how it was going to end. I can't say anything bad about this book. This is a fantastic read that I would recommend. I can't wait to read the second book in the trilogy.
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LibraryThing member mbklibrary
Fantastic - fabulously written, compulsively readable, great characters. I love a book that catches me by surprise and this one did.

The book centers around a nobleman's plot to install an orphan as the lost prince in a country that teeters on the edge of civil war. The rest of the royal family has
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just been murdered and that fact hidden while Conner selects and trains his orphans. Sage, our narrator and one of the orphans is headstrong, and impulsive yet compassionate. He quickly realizes he must become the prince or face a certain death.

There are layers upon layers in the story that by the end are all woven together. It is subtly and artfully done and provides readers with a twist they never saw coming.

Fabulous - can't wait to read the second book!
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LibraryThing member readinggeek451
Sage, one of several orphan boys being trained to imitate a missing prince, does not want to be king. But it is clear that all but the chosen boy will be killed when the training period is over. And time is running out.
LibraryThing member asomers
This action packed story gripped me right from the first page. I am so happy that it is the first in a trilogy, because I finished this story and immediately wished that there was more to read. I think the author does a great job of developing the characters. It has just the right balance of action
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and family to issues to appeal to both boys and girls. I would highly recommend this title. It is listed as a YA title but I think it is appropriate for middle school readers as well.
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LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, but I just couldn't make it through this book. It's not that it's not good - it is! It's just that I did not feel compelled to finish it. I like Sage the sassy orphan with his strong, snarky voice and humorous ways. But after a month of trying to finish it and never really
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feeling compelled to pick it up, I called it quits.

I would hand this to fans of the Eugenides books by Megan Whalen Turner and fans of other high fantasy. There's a great deal of adventure and intrigue, sword-fighting and sneaking about... Just not my thing, I suppose...
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LibraryThing member daniela07
When I first started reading this book, my initial thought was 'this is super predictable, why do I even bother?'. Actually, when I first saw the title I got that thought. Because, come on, we all know the main character will turn out to be the real lost prince and he'll be crowned king. Yippee.
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Happy Ending. You can't tell me that's not foreseeable.
But never let the book title lead you astray. I don't think I've ever read a book like this one before.The beginning was slippery and my attention wavered for a bit until I fully settled. The main character was incredibly easy to understand and I didn't find him all that interesting.
But as it turns out, I've been tricked.
Sage (main character) is a perfect example of an unreliable narrator. Actually, every character in this book (or most of them) are not who they seem or say they are. Friends are enemies. Enemies are friends. Those who stand-by are really closer than you think. And those who seem important are just a distraction so you overlook the real ones. There is some serious deceiving in this book.
The story is told in Sage's POV. He's the poor orphan, the thief, and the undeniably clever trickster. I loved that mischievous gleam he gave everything. It was refreshing for me to read a book from a boy's POV (especially since he was about fourteen years old). Sage was super haughty and stubborn as a mule. No one, and I repeat no one, could change that boy's mind. He's a quick thinker and a fast learner, but a fool at the same time. He did things his way and allowed others to think that he was bending to their will. When things sort of took the wrong turn, I was surprised at how rapidly he improvised. And this guy led me to believe everything he said, I trusted him. I feel like a fool now.
Sage's competitors, Tobias and Roden, are two characters you have to keep a look out for. While Tobias is smart and educated, Roden is strong and skilled in sword fighting. Tobias is the guy no one ever likes and no one ever will. Which is why I was so shocked at the end. The guy was a big know-it-all throughout the book, and I wanted to beat him up so badly. I don't know what to think of him now.
Roden starts off on the wrong foot, but he gradually grows humble as he learns his way through the tasks.
His personality is hard to tell. After reading so much about him, he still feels like a stranger to me. Even more so in the end.
The rest of the characters had me thinking one thought throughout the book. The same thing that popped up in my head the second I saw the title. Predictable.
I learned a valuable lesson today. Or maybe I was reminded of it.
Nothing is what it seems.
Sooooo true.
The book starts off on a roll (a bumpy one), but it's impressively easy to emerge yourself in the story once you get a sample of Sage's sassiness. It's addicting and hilarious. You think teenagers are rebellious and defiant? Sage is about twice as much. Get ready to enter the roller coaster of a lifetime. One with sudden sharp turns.
The plot is fast-paced and buttery smooth. There was about a zero chance of me putting this book down. It was glued to my fingers and eyes. There's not much romance (almost none at all), but some seeds were planted here. Maybe the second book will have more of this. There was lots of action, but this is more of a thriller/mystery (sword fights included). The settings were beautiful and easily imaginable. I love this new world Nielsen created. It's smart and well planned.
Overall, I adored everything about this book, even the part where I find out I've been tricked.
The False Prince is one story that should top every Must-Read list. It certainly earned it's place on my 2012's Best Reads.
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LibraryThing member JRlibrary
Sage is one of four orphans purchased from orphanages by Bevin Conner, a regent with plans to produce a false prince to impersonate Prince Jaron, who perished during a pirate attack four years ago, but whose body was never found. Conner leaves the boys very little choice about acquiescing to his
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plan, and thus begins their two week training in how to impersonate nobility.
This book reminded me of "The Thief" by Megan Whalen Turner, and would be enjoyed by middle school students who are decent readers and enjoy books set in medieval times.
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LibraryThing member RefPenny
Sage is an orphan who survives by stealing until someone spots him in the marketplace and buys him. Sage soon discovers that he is one of four boys that the nobleman has acquired in order to pass one of them off as the long-lost son of the Kingdom’s ruler. The boys are trained in what they need
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to know and then the most promising will be chosen and it seems likely that the others will be killed. Sage needs to rely on his wits to survive.
This is an exciting adventure story set in an imaginary medieval kingdom. While Sage is not entirely likable the reason for this becomes obvious at the end when a massive plot twist is revealed. This is the first book in a series and it will be interesting to see what direction the other books take. Suitable for readers aged 10 and up
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LibraryThing member Annesanse
The False Prince was an action-packed book full of twists. I only gave it 4.5 stars because at the beginning I found the main character, Sage, to be almost unbearably arrogant. However as the book progresses you get to see what's underneath all of his arrogance and rudeness. I found myself wrapped
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up in this story and couldn't wait to see how it would all play out. I really liked the way it ended and am interested to see what happens next.
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LibraryThing member Bduke
I really enjoyed this book, and I think my middle-schoolers will gobble it up. It had a great plot, fun and interesting characters, action, adventure, and humor. I liked the main character, Sage, and cared what happened to him. And I loved that the book actually had an ending of sorts. It will
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definitely go on, but you're not left up in the air about important things. I will be interested to hear more about Mott. Who is he? Why was he carrying out Connor's orders when he obviously didn't agree with them? A fun, fun read.
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LibraryThing member EuronerdLibrarian
So good. To start, the premise is an interesting one that pulls the reader in right away. Even though it has a competing-for-your-life set up (complete with training) that's so overdone in a post-Hunger Games publishing world, I didn't realize it until now. In other words, this story comes off as
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original and interesting (instead of tired). I loved the characters--Sage is wonderfully defiant, clever and charming, with a strong character (despite his sometimes questionable morals). The plot and politics, as well as the relationships are complex and intriguing. This is a smart, fast-paced read I'd recommend to all readers, but especially reluctant ones.
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LibraryThing member pacey1927
This was never on my radar until I saw it at the store on sale for $6.99. Because I am an oddball I checked Amazon online right then and there and found out it was on special for Kindle for $1.99. You can't beat a price like that so I immediately downloaded it and started in not realy knowing what
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to expect. If anything I was afraid that this book was aimed for middle school readers and wouldn't hold my interest. I love YA books but sometimes find the middle school ones don't do much for me. This book actually blew me away. It was a tad slow for me during the first few chapters and yet I wasn't ever bored. But half way through there was no pulling me away from this one. I would pull it out in the line at the store just to read a few more pages. The story was unlike anything I have read before and I loved the hero Sage.

The basic plot: Several orphans are bought for the purpose of competing with each other to be chosen to portray the deceased prince and heir to the throne. They are pulling a huge act of treason and Conner, the man who buys the boys, has a prominent position in court and wants to make sure that he is calling all the shots. His political agenda will be overthrown if the real prince is declared dead and someone else gains the throne. He was dynamic and clever and quite a schemer. Sage is the hero of the story and his clever wit kept me engaged and rooting for him through the tale. The way the story was written was also new to me. The book is told through Sage's eyes but we don't really get to see everything. Sage has a lot of secrets of his own and I was suprised repeatedly by things I thought I knew but then realized I didn't. That sounds confusing, but this book was not muddled or hard to read in the least. The big twist toward the end of the book I never saw coming. I was completely shocked and had to re-read some pages to make sure I could believe what I read. Kudos for this to the author. I read a lot and more often than not I am able to figure things out before the reveals in the novels.

This is another story where I just don't want to give a single thing away. It is very much worth reading whether you can get it for a dollar or even if you have to pay $9.99. I can't wait to buy the sequel the minute it comes out. A book with a fresh premise and great storytelling will win me over anyday. And I don't compare this book in any way to Harry Potter other than to say that I believe readers who enjoyed that series will also likely take to this one.
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LibraryThing member gonzalezA82
Great juvenile fiction, enjoyable to the last. A little more violent than I would of expected. The main character is compelling and the story although a little drawn out ends up having purpose in its detail.

The book really picks up towards the end. The characters are relate-able and full for their
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I really enjoyed it and am excited to read its sequel, The Runaway King.
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LibraryThing member amandacb
I did enjoy this telling of four boys plucked from orphanages to be "trained" as a prince for a nation on the brink of civil war. Sage, the main character, is a standout and thoroughly believable and emotional young man; I did, however, see the ending of the book coming a mile away. While that did
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not detract from my enjoyment of the story, it did make me wish the author would have either embraced the knowledge and not "amp it up" or make it more of a secret/harder to guess.
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LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
In a world not unlike ours, Sage is one of four boys captured by Conner and forced to take part in a competition to see which one of them will become the kingdom's missing prince.

I enjoyed the story and the twist was good. I guessed what it was going to be but not the mechanics of how it would
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unfold. This feels almost like a fantasy story but there's no magic in it, it's more an almost medieval/early renaissance alternative world. I'm really looking forward to the sequel. It's quite well done and I was really rooting for Sage throughout.
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LibraryThing member akmargie
This is my issue with books in series, when I get to the ending it takes some of the emotional punch away since I know this isn't the end. So the cost is lower and although loose ends have been tied up it is unsatisfying since they're just have to come untied to make a second or third book. Sigh.
LibraryThing member JenJ.
Listened to Scholastic audio edition narrated by Charlie McWade. I really enjoyed the story on this one, but the audio production is not at the same level. I didn't understand some of the narration choices - particularly in which characters had accents and which didn't. It's a shame, because with a
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better audio production this could have been fantastic. The plotting wasn't perfect, but it was good. Since I had heard this compared to Turner's Thief series, I guessed the twist almost immediately and I loved how it added depth to Sage's inner thoughts - many of the things he said work on a couple different levels when you know the truth. I could see kids wanting to go back and reread it from the beginning if they hadn't guessed the ending and getting more out of it. I think there was a missed opportunity/plot hole though - everyone at the ends wants to know why Sage didn't tell Connor the truth immediately. Sage says it's because he wouldn't have been able to reveal Connor's treachery, but it seems obvious to me that Connor would have simply killed him and used one of the other boys. Connor didn't want the real prince, he wanted a false prince he could control, but this never gets mentioned. There were also a few problems with voice/viewpoint - at the end we get one very brief section from Connor's viewpoint which was jarring since everything had been Sage until then. Lots of fun and I really enjoyed it and will recommend it to fans of fantasy and medieval adventure, but not destined to be an award winner.
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LibraryThing member scote23
Loved it! So good, and there was a twist that I didn't see coming for a while, which I always appreciate in a book. Can't wait to see what happens next!
LibraryThing member thehidingspot
It took me a little while to get into The False Prince, but once I did, I was hooked! I purchased the novel via Audible and listened to the first half, then read the second half, which, for me, was much more enjoyable.

Though I found the first half of the novel interesting enough, I absolutely
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despised the voice actor's portrayal of the main character, Sage. Though Sage is definitely a cocky character, the reader made him, in my opinion, too much of an ass. I really couldn't stand him and almost gave up on the novel entirely just so I wouldn't have to listen to Sage's annoying and condescending tone anymore. Still, I liked the story itself, so I decided to give it one last chance and read the second half of the novel - and I am so glad! As I said, Sage is definitely sure of himself and, at times, full of himself, but I read him as much less annoying and I ended up speeding through the remainder of the novel.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel is that Sage is a very unreliable narrator. The reader can never be sure that Sage isn't lying to the other characters... or even the reader! One moment I thought I knew what was motivating Sage's actions and the next he'd do something completely unexpected, leaving me to retrace his steps and muddle through side comments and small details to figure out where I'd missed something important.

At the novel's close, many secrets were uncovered, but there is still some much that I hope will be explored in the next novels. The False Prince focused primarily on Sage and the two other boys competing for the role of prince and almost the entire novel is set in Connor's palace, leaving me hopeful readers will get a closer look at the kingdom and its peoples and customs in subsequent novels.
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LibraryThing member mountie9
The Good Stuff

A truly remarkable and epic adventure story
Once I started reading, I just couldn't put it down - it is just one of those amazing books that readers of all ages will enjoy
Most of the Characters are realistic and intriguing - no one dimensional characters in this
One of my favorite
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protagonists to date. I wanted to adopt Sage I loved him so much. He's a smart ass and would totally fit in with my boys and husband
The author is a gifted storyteller which to me is far more exceptional than a so called "good writer". She takes you into a world and makes you believe that it is real and that you are part of it -- that is talent my friends
I was talking so excitedly about it to Jake, that he actually asked if he could read it -- makes me a happy mommy when he does that
Lots of danger, intrigue, red herrings and so much more -- sort of Game of Thrones without the gratuitous nudity and violence (and so far no dragons)
You know what I am not doing this book justice, go out and buy it - trust me you will enjoy

The Not So Good Stuff

It was so engrossing I didn't want to put it down - and hello I am a Mom, I got stuff to do - ok, whose kidding who -- totally ignored the house work so I could finish the book and let Jesse watch 3 episodes of Caillou so I could keep reading (yes I am a bad mommy)
These trilogies are killing me -- I have to wait so long in between books and I'm old, the memory isn't what it used to be -- that and I am impatient

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Errol's gentle manners were not reflected in his bathing assistance. It surprised me how much dirt came of the second time. While he busied himself with a brush on the bottom of my feet, I looked at my fingernails. "I don't remember them ever being this color," I said then yanked my feet away. "That tickles. Are you finished yet? I don't like having a man help me with my bath."

Errol grinned. "Shall I have a women sent in?"

I laughed and told Errol I wouldn't need anyone's help for my future baths. "Obviously, Master Connor has a different standard of clean than the orphanage did. Now that I know you want the entire body washed, I'll make the necessary adjustments."

"I made a face and thrust my sword at him, but he parried it. "Not bad," Mott said. "But be bolder. Prince Jaron was known for that."

"Sounds like he's dead. So whatever boldness was with a sword, it obviously didn't save him."

"Don't give up, Sage, and don't give in to him. Please. A lot of us are watching you, and we need to see it's possible to win."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read

FYI Nieces and Nephews I am getting you all a copy for Christmas
Perfect for both young and old readers (10 + as there is some violence but not overly graphic)
Male and Female readers will enjoy equally

5 Dewey's

I received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review - thanks Nikole, this one was truly spectacula
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LibraryThing member lilibrarian
Sage, son of deceased parents, lives in an orphanage. When a peer of the realm comes and purchases him as a servant, it is to prep him and others who look like him so one can pose as the missing prince, the only survivor of the royal family. Unfortunately, this nobleman has good reason to believe
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that the real prince is dead as well, while Sage has good reason to know that the real prince lives.
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LibraryThing member DebbieMcCauley
The first book in the 'Ascendance' trilogy. Fifteen-year-old orphan boy Sage has managed to survive using his wits, that is, until he is purchased by a nobleman, clobbered over the head, and taken away from his world at the orphanage. Sage has two companions, also purchased from orphanages by the
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nobleman, companions who look suspiciously like him. One he learns that the King, Queen and Crown Prince of the kingdom of Carthya have been murdered, the nobleman’s traitorous plot is revealed. Sage finds he must win the contest between the other two boys and himself or forfeit his life.

A rollicking good adventure with a twist in the tale. I thought this was a fantastic read and I'm already on the second book in the series.
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Nebraska Golden Sower Award (Nominee — 2015)
Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — Middle Grade — 2015)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 2015)
Triple Crown Awards (Nominee — 2014)
Georgia Children's Book Award (Finalist — Grades 4-8 — 2015)
Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Young Adult — 2014)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2014)
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2014)
William Allen White Children's Book Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2015)
Nutmeg Book Award (Nominee — Teen — 2015)
Iowa Teen Award (Nominee — 2016)
Sunshine State Young Reader's Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2014)
Nēnē Award (Nominee — 2015)
Oregon Reader's Choice Award (Nominee — 2015)
Grand Canyon Reader Award (Nominee — 2014)
Association for Mormon Letters Award (Winner — Middle Grade Fiction — 2012)
Truman Readers Award (Nominee — 2015)
Virginia Readers' Choice (Nominee — Middle School — 2014)
Golden Archer Award (Nominee — 2015)
Whitney Award (Winner — Middle Grade — 2012)
Maud Hart Lovelace Award (Nominee — 2015)
Rhode Island Teen Book Award (Nominee — 2014)
CYBILS Awards (Winner — 2012)
E.B. White Read-Aloud Award (Honor Book — 2013)
Utah Book Award (Young Adult Literature — 2014)
Best Fiction for Young Adults (Selection — 2013)
Nerdy Book Award (Middle Grade Fiction — 2012)
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best: Kids (Fiction for Older Readers — 2012)




0545284139 / 9780545284134
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