This highly enjoyable medieval fantasy from Nielsen (the Underworld Chronicles), set in the medieval kingdom of Carthya, centers on 15-year-old Sage, an angry and pugnacious orphan, who is unexpectedly purchased by Conner, one of the king’s regents. The entire royal family—king, queen, and heir—has recently died under mysterious circumstances, and to prevent civil war, Conner is collecting orphans who might believably be substituted for the dead king’s younger son, who was reported lost at sea years earlier. Sage is soon engaged in a deadly, winner-take-all contest with two other boys to earn the right to impersonate Prince Jaron. Sage is deftly characterized through humorous first-person narration, quickly establishing himself as a beguiling antihero: “I’d never attempted roast thievery before, and I was already regretting it,” he says when readers first meet him. “It happens to be very difficult to hold a chunk of raw meat while running.” Secondary characters are equally fleshed-out. First in the Ascendancy Trilogy, this is an impressive, promising story with some expertly executed twists. Ages 8–14. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2012 Release date: 04/01/2012 Genre: Children's
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