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on April 8, 2014
Last summer after school got out, my husband and I were worried about our son and his reading level. It had been something that had been occupying our minds for quite some time. We've been searching for a book series that he would enjoy. He's always had a problem with reading in school. Out of desperation I contacted my friend who is an author (Melanie Atkinson) and asked her if she had any advice on books for boys ages 12 to 14. She gave me a list of ideas and at the top of the list was The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. I immediately got the book and asked my son to start reading it. To our utter shock and amazement he finished the book in 2 days. I literally wanted to cry. I had never seen him enjoy reading this much. I immediately went and got the second book The Runaway King. Once again he picked up that book and read it within a couple days. Sadly, we had to wait for another nine months before the third book of the trilogy came out. These books by Jennifer Nielsen have given me hope that my son could read and that he would enjoy it. After he finished reading the last book tonight, he came to me and said, "please tell me that this author has other books". He is actually going to start from the first book and read them again. His reading levels this last school year have increased dramatically. I truly believe that The False Prince, The Runaway King and the Shadow Throne have been the catalyst that helped him find enjoyment in reading. I highly recommend this book. I will be forever grateful to Jennifer Nielsen for writing this trilogy.
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on March 8, 2014
*I received this book as an eARC from Scholastic Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

I really thought that The Runaway King was going to be as good as it got. That The Shadow Throne would wrap up the story, but that it wouldn't be as intense, fast-paced, or insightful as The Runaway King. You guys. I was wrong. So, so wrong. Because The Shadow Throne was probably my favorite book of the series, and had so much going for it. I don't know how, but Jennifer Nielsen managed to write a series that only gets better as it goes along, and grows as Jaron does.

I knew that Jaron was going to get himself into quite a bit of trouble in this book. I mean, what would a book in this trilogy be if he wasn't in some ridiculous predicament that seemed impossible to get out of? Before, there was pretending to be an orphan pretending to be a king. Then, there were pirates and thieves. And now, Jaron has to try to pull his entire country through a war where all of the odds are stacked against him. And THEN, to make matters worse, he experiences one of the greatest losses he's ever been through. He's pretty much an emotional wreck this entire book, but he still manages fight for his country and his friends and his life.

One of my favorite things about Jaron is how he always keeps everyone guessing. As readers, we all know he's got a plan stewing even when it seems like everything is hopeless. He drops hints and does things that should give away what he's going to do, but somehow Nielsen manages to add details that make it a surprise every time. I would love to spend a day in his head, or to be able to talk with him for an afternoon. That kid is crazy, and I loved every bit of it. It just amazed me how smart and cunning and resourceful Jaron is, and I loved reading about his situation and trying to pick out clues as to what his plan was.

Another thing that I really liked about this book was how much darker it seemed than The False Prince and even The Runaway King. There's so much death and violence and war is always a dark thing, and I was really impressed that Nielsen managed to write everything in a way that would still be alright for a younger audience. This book definitely felt older to me than the other two - closer to a YA book than a MG book, I think - but there's nothing too scary or gory or anything that a younger child wouldn't be able to handle.

I could really go on about how incredible this book is for a long time, but I don't want to give too much away. The best way to experience the conclusion to this series is to read it yourself, and I don't think you'll be disappointed. The ending is satisfying and fits very much with the characters and the overall tone of the series, and I'm glad things worked out the way they did. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has read the rest of the series, and to anyone who is a fan of YA/MG fantasy. Especially for younger kids who are looking to get into a really good fantasy series. 5/5!
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on July 6, 2015
Each book in this series goes further and further in the fantastical. And when I say fantastical I mean outrageously unbelievable ways a story goes. Here Jaron is back from the Pirates and is their king as well as king of Carthya. War is about to occur and Jaron must now fight. Imogen has been kidnapped and he is conflicted with his feelings about her. He is betrothed but in love with Imogen.

the fighting starts out well. but things happen and Jaron has some unforeseen complications and the saddest moment is when he gives up. That part was horrible. Or does he really give up? We are left to wonder this.

Each action he takes brings us more outrageous things and more entertainment. The heart of Jaron for his people and others is seen throughout this book as is his craftiness. He shows why he is a survivor and will be king. I do enjoy how he breaks the mold in the end with the marriage and shows that love is more important and politics.

The story is a fun entertaining read that will have you on your seat with jaron and his antics and how he outsmarts those around him for his love of his people and Imogen.
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on October 5, 2015
I ADORED this series! I had never heard of this author before and had downloaded The False Prince a few years ago when it was the deal of the day, and then I did what I always do and I hoarded it waiting for the others to go on sale. I really wish I wouldn't have waited so long. I can't even tell you how fantastic this series is. There is wonderful world building, character development and quite a bit of humor! There is absolutely zero swearing which is another plus for me and I have already recommended to many others and bought the whole series for my niece recently! I don't want to give a thing away which makes it hard to write reviews sometimes. So I will just leave you with this, if you like fantasy, adventure, humor, a story that will leave you flipping page after page that you don't want to put down, and even some romance you will love this series. I highly recommend it and can't wait to read more by this fantastic author!!
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on February 2, 2016
I got the first two of these books for free from a Kellogg's deal. I started reading them for a nice simple read and fell in love. The style is fun loving and adventurous. For those youth out there who love a fun fantasy style book with mischievous characters you cannot go wrong with this book.
I enjoyed and read the first ones so quick that I actually primed this book as opposed to no rush shipping just so I made sure to have it here in time and I am glad I did or I would have gotten really impatient and frustrated.
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on March 3, 2014
What a wonderful story and one of my all time favorite book heroes. Great final book of a fantastic trilogy. Following Jaron’s adventures through these books has been a wild ride as he finds himself in one impossible situation after the other, and then comes up with an impossible plan and makes it work. Not that each of them results in a happy ending and sometimes in tragedy. There are just too many other wonderful characters I learned to love along the way. I don’t want to give away too much of the story because it would ruin the first book if I did. More fun if one does not read any spoilers in this trilogy.
This is not a fantasy story in that there are no supernatural, dragons and such. But it is a make believe land where it takes place with horses and knights and lots of swordplay. An amazing young prince who has made fast friends with some unlikely other boys – or young men by the time this part of the story is told. Is it a romance? It is to a degree from the serving girl who Jaron loves but dares not admit it to the princess he has been betrothed to since his brother was killed and he, as prince, stepped into the agreement. Both the serving girl and the princess are also strong and wonderful players in the story. Jaron’s relationship with his Captain is complicated and goes back to the first book. They have been bitter enemies and good friends. As Jaron loved them all, so did I as the reader.
The villain in this story weaves in and out of the turmoil as he is in prison for most of the second and third book. I always felt he would play a large part somewhere, and sure enough. But there are more evil men here including a king who is determined to take over not only Jaron’s people but all else too.
Some of this book was not as fun to read for me as the other two. I worried too much. There is cruelty and my hero who never runs and never gives up, appeared to have reached the end of his will to fight any more. But the very traits that made me love him in the first place were always there underneath. There were things going on in this battle to save his throne and his people that I wondered about. The author lets us into Jaron’s mind and thoughts, but just enough and not enough to see what he really intended to happen. Sometimes I guessed and sometimes I was totally surprised at the minor miracles he pulled out. But so was Jaron which made it even a better read. Really good writing.
This is YA and would be suitable to all ages. I expect a boy would enjoy this one more than a lot of the YA stories that are based around the girl being the main character that the reader follows. This book is told in the first person which works perfectly. Jaron is clever and has a sense of humor which definitely comes across.
Wonderful trilogy and I will re-read it. I think it will be a fun re-read because now I know some of the things Jaron was planning that he did not let me know when he was telling the story!
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on May 30, 2016
Well, it got better.
I have loved the entire "Ascendance Trilogy", but Nielsen seems to have gotten a better grip on the characters she created in "The False Prince". I agree with those who were displeased with the stereotypical, two-dimensional side characters in this best-selling fantasy series. In all honesty, liking the characters better, even if just a little, makes a world of difference to the reader.

As for the story itself, it's a slam - dunk of a conclusion.

King Jaron, aka the thief Sage, is trying to prepare Carthya for war against the formiddable country of rival king Vargan. However, his love Imagen is captured by the enemy, he and his captain of the army Roden have a fall-out, and Jaron is asked to marry the princess betrothed to his late brother, who, although he cares for her, does not love her. Rather than listen to reason, Jaron plots a rescue mission to save Imagen...but it all goes wrong.
Now Jaron has lost everything. If he is to save his world, he must outwit Vargan, defeat the enemy...or die for the throne.

PROS - 1 Better characters. While these characters aren't necessarily better developed, they are more likable. Mott is more of the dependable, I don't agree but let's do this kind of guy, and the princess proves to be a brave woman in time of war. However, Imagen is still useless and irritating. Roden is still obnoxious. And Tobias...eh...well, he's himself, fickle, really. NOW he wants to be a physician.

2 Jaron. Jaron has been described as an anti-hero. I couldn't disagree more. Sage is an act. The thief is a face he put on to stop his father from going to war many years before. In reality, he is a selfless monarch who will sacrifice almost anything to keep his people safe. But, thankfully Jaron is incredibly intelligent, and let's us enjoy another twist ending. He truly is a wonderful narrator. Thank you, Jennifer.

CONS- 1 Imagen. SPOILER - SKIP THIS PART UNLESS YOU DON"T CARE.OR YOU HATE IMAGEN AND WISHED TO BE SPARED PAIN. Don't believe your good fortune, it's a lie - Imagen is alive. This is incredibly frustrating. She is an awful, I can take care of myself how dare you suggest I need protection type of person who basically won't love Jaron because he has a duty. Good for Jaron, I guess. For us? ARG!

2 Bit to typical. Ends very well, everything ties up. EVERYTHING. Not that a happy ending's bad...just kind of a "seriously?" thing.

This book is violent, but not to much. No swearing, from what I remember.

This i, in all, an exellent ending to a great series. I wish there could be more Sage adventures...but, really, I don't.
This is fine.
It could even be split into a part 1, part 2 for Hollywood. Don't throw tomatoes at me, please!
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on July 13, 2014
Amazing conclusion to the Ascendance Trilogy. Jaron is one of my favorite storybook characters of all time, and I’ve read a TON of books. He’s sarcastic, arrogant, hilarious, reckless, and completely charming with his good, valiant heart and determination to keep his kingdom safe and free. His witty retorts that he casts out to his adversaries and friends alike make me chuckle. This story was hard to put down to keep up with normal life, but I tried to be like Jaron and NEVER give up. I snuck chapters in before bed and during car rides, and during moments when I just plain hid for a while because I HAD to know what happened next. My 14-year-old son said this was his favorite book EVER (and that included Harry Potter books—WOW!). I agree that it’s a set worth having in your house for teens and adults alike. I’ll reread it.
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on November 14, 2015
I have been pleasantly surprised by this series and was just as pleased with the final book. It was full of action and surprises, twists and turns, and many seemingly impossible situations. I am an adult who loves younger fiction because of the lack of foul language and inappropriate scenes. This whole series was just wonderful in that aspect.
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on March 24, 2014
My kids (age 10 and 11) and I all enjoyed this - I read it aloud so we could all "read" it at the same time. I would say the story is stronger, and packs a much stronger emotional punch, than the second book, and it has some twists that the second book lacked. (And because of those twists, I don't want to say too much about the plot, including pointing out a few issues I had, because that would give away too much.) Having said that, I would still say the first book in the series is the strongest, and the one I love the most, hands down. And you definitely have to read this series in order, or each subsequent book won't make any sense. Jaron is an interesting character, someone who cares about all the right things, and yet just as devoted to being mischievous and irreverent. I've really enjoyed getting to know him.

It's not entirely clear where the title came from, however - unless I'm just particularly dense?
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