Carthya is a kingdom on the brink of war. The royal family is dead. The youngest son, Jaron, is missing, presumed dead. A group of regents all have their eye on the vacant throne, and if one of them seizes power, it's likely that the entire kingdom will be plunged into ruin. But one nobleman named Conner has a plan. He's rounded up a group of four orphan boys - Latamer, Roden, Tobias, and Sage - that all have the look of Jaron. His plan is to groom them, train them, and in two weeks, crown the one who has best taken to the role. As for the others, well...death.
Despite being a thief and an orphan, Sage is a proud boy, and doesn't take kindly to Conner's cruel tyranny. He sustains a number of beatings, whippings, and torments at the hands of his captor. The other boys can't be trusted, either. They're all in competition for the same thing, and if one of them fails, the survivors in this cruel competition will gain from their loss.
THE FALSE PRINCE is one of those books that sounded so good, I was afraid to read it, because I couldn't stand the thought of being disappointed. This was in error. THE FALSE PRINCE is awesome. It's got all the things I love in YA - court intrigue, surprising twists, peril, death, heartbreak, friendship, competitions, deception, and action. Sage is an excellent narrator. He has all the snark of Artemis Fowl, but the humanity and determination of characters like Katniss Everdeen that make your heart ache for them as well. No matter how big a jerk he is, there's never a moment where you don't want him to succeed, because you feel in your heart that he deserves it.
The only things that I can really ding this book for are - the main twist. I saw it coming pretty early on. Also, Roden's and Tobias's characters started to feel pretty interchangeable in the last third of the book. Roden especially did some things that just felt out of character. This is just me being nit-picky, though. I finished this book in a single sitting; it was just that good.
Lord, I need that sequel. That ending.
5 out of 5 stars