Buy The Runaway King
Special Price: $14.24 (Regular price: $17.99)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Reviewer: Melissa on May 29, 2013
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Mere weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt on his life from an unexpected source forces him to make a potentially deadly choice. Rumors of war have wound their way into the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure mounting by the second in his native Carthya. Will deserting the kingdom with an impossible choice be his only chance to save it? In The Runaway King, Jennifer A. Nielsen’s follow-up to the New York Times Bestselling middle grade novel, The False Prince, readers will watch, spellbound, as Jaron’s adventures lead him into danger, the likes of which he’s never seen before and force him to learn who his real friends are and decide who he can trust – if he can trust anyone at all. And more importantly, the further Jaron runs from his true identity, the more he wonders whether it’s possible to go too far? Will he be forced to sacrifice his sense of home or his life to save the kingdom he holds dear? In the second installment of the Ascendance Trilogy, Nielsen proves that the thrilling plot readers have come to expect from her is no fluke.
When I first read The False Prince last year and even when I re-read it before picking up The Runaway King, I admit that I was a little nervous. The first book in Nielsen’s series is one of my favorite books of 2012, and it was hard to imagine that another book could live up to its fast-paced and action-packed plot. Whether, like me, you’ve been nervously anticipating the sequel for a year, have just recently picked up the paperback of the first book, or have been sitting on the fence about this series, I’m here to tell you to run to your favorite local bookstore or order the latest book online now. While it may seem impossible for the stakes of the first book in this middle grade series to get any higher, Nielsen and King Jaron prove that it can – and will – be done, leaving fans of the first book satisfied and desperately seeking the final book – as of yet unnamed – in the series.
One of the things I love about this middle grade fantasy novel, beyond Nielsen’s felicity with voice and action-packed plots, is how she explores the theme of never giving up. In the first novel, she presents a treacherous game that Sage had no choice but to play if he wanted to stay alive. However, in the second book, nearly every character in the novel from Jaron’s friends to his enemies in the castle think it’s best if he hides away in a secret location until he’s come of age and can run the kingdom of Carthya on his own. If he refuses to comply, which if readers know anything about Jaron, then they know he will, then at the very least, they want to be part of his journey to protect him. However, as with Nielsen’s own philosophy about giving up that I wrote about previously, Jaron knows that when faced with an unacceptable and an impossible choice, there is only one worth taking and often what seems like protection could cause more harm in the long run. Jaron’s philosophy in life might put him in harms way, but it’ll also ensure that both tween and adult readers of middle grade fiction cheer, literally, if he’s able to get himself out of impossible predicaments.
Like the first book in the series, the plot of The Runaway King takes places over the course of a few weeks, but so much happens during that time. Nielsen has, indeed, maintained her brisk pace, and if possible, puts even more harm in Jaron’s way than he’s ever experienced. Moreover, her tightly woven plot makes incredible use of the cast of characters at her disposal, building on the tension between the familiar ones in new ways and introducing new ones, who keep the story interesting and help get readers where she needs them to be for the final book in the series. That’s doesn’t mean that this book is merely a way to get Jaron from where he is at the beginning of the novel to where he needs to be at the end or as an artificial means of extending the world she created the first time around from a standalone to a three-book series. While the world has expanded, there is also an authenticity to the way Nielsen does it that isn’t apparent in all trilogies.
Readers of The Runaway King will, ultimately, be satisfied…and more….with the places Nielsen takes Jaron and the rest of the cast this time around and anticipation for where they’ll be going in the final installment.
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