Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Runaway King by Jennifer Nieman (The Ascendance Trilogy, bk. 2)

Main character: Jaron, a 14-year-old king
Location: the kingdom of Carthya
Time period:  Medieval-ish
Genre: Fantasy (non-magical)
Sequel to: The False Prince

When we last left our heroes, Jaron had reclaimed his rightful throne and revealed the identity of the traitor who was responsible for the deaths of his parents and brother.  We knew that wasn't the end of the story--there were too many people who were jostling to claim power for themselves to simply accept a teenaged kind that most had assumed was long dead.  (Besides, there were two more books to come in the trilogy.)

At the state memorial service for Jaron's family, he is the victim of an assassination attempt led by Roden, one of the boys he was in competition with in the first book.  Roden is now allied with the pirates and has a message for Jaron--the pirates want Jaron dead.  He can surrender himself to them and they will leave Carthya in peace, or they will invade and destroy Carthya in order to kill Jaron.

Jaron's regents advise him to go into hiding while they elect a steward to rule Carthya.  The most likely choice for steward is Gregor Breslyan, captain of the guard.  Not surprisingly, Gregor is one of the strongest voices urging Jaron to hide.  But also not surprisingly, Jaron has his own ideas.  He pretends to go along with the plan, but instead of going to the planned hiding place, he takes up his old identity as the orphan boy Sage and goes to find the pirate crew.  Along the way, he learns some things that are happening to his kingdom that he was never told, and he meets some new characters--some that will be friends and some that will definitely not be friends.

I really enjoy how Jaron is able to submerge himself in Sage's identity, and how he never lies to anyone.  He tells the truth--not necessarily the whole truth--and if the listener fills in the blanks with wrong assumptions that's not Jaron's fault (though it usually works in his favor.)  He has been alone for so long that he is wary of others and their motives, which on the one hand is a good thing since Conner was not the only traitor in Jaron's court.  On the other hand, it does cause him to keep at arm's length people who want to help him, such as Amarinda, his intended princess.  Fortunately, he begins to learn to trust and by the end of this book has built a loyal cadre of friends and advisors.

The book ends on a cliffhanger that lets us know what the main plot of the last book will be.  Unfortunately, it will be a while before I can get my hands on The Shadow Throne.  For this series, I am reading copies checked out from my library.

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