The False Prince Summary

Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince

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The False Prince Summary

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The False Prince is a young adult fantasy novel by American author Jennifer Anne Nielsen, first published in 2012. It is the first book in the Ascendance Trilogy and was followed by The Runaway King in 2013 and The Shadow Throne in 2014. The trilogy centers on an orphan named Sage who is discovered to be the missing Prince Jaron, the rightful ruler of the kingdom of Carthya. It follows Jaron’s quest to regain his rightful place as king and then his struggle to lead his nation through a destructive war. Exploring themes of deception, secrets, class warfare, and how far people will go to gain and keep power, The False Prince was a bestseller and received positive reviews. It was named one of The New York Times’ Notable Children’s Books for 2012 and was praised for its appeal to a wide range of age groups and its suspenseful plot. The paperback version landed on The New York Times’ bestseller list. It was optioned by Paramount Pictures for a motion picture series, but the rights lapsed without renewal in March 2017.

As The False Prince opens, Sage is a fourteen-year-old orphan who lives on the streets in the Kingdom of Carthya. He struggles to survive on the streets and is frequently forced to steal in order to eat. When he steals a roast from a local butcher, he is unable to get away fast enough and is captured by the butcher. Facing harsh justice, he is saved from the wrath of the law by a nobleman named Bevin Conner. Conner, an agent of the Royal Court, has been visiting orphanages around the kingdom and buying orphans who Conner believes resemble the long-missing Prince Jaron. Jaron, the heir to the throne of Carthya, has been missing for years after the ship he was traveling on was attacked and destroyed by pirates from the rival nation of Avenia. Four boys who meet Conner’s standards are bought, but during training, Conner is disappointed by one of the boys and kills him. Sage realizes that Conner is a ruthless man who will not hesitate to use violence to get what he wants.

The three surviving boys are taken to Conner’s estate, Farthenwood. Conner introduces himself as a member of King Eckbert’s inner circle. However, he soon reveals the truth–Eckbert, his wife Erin, and their oldest son, Crown Prince Darius, have all been murdered. Carthya’s government is in chaos, and Conner fears it will soon descend into civil war when Prime Regent Veldergrath takes the throne. Conner, a patriot, fears for the stability of his kingdom and believes a steady transition of power is necessary. Thus, he seeks to place a fraudulent prince on the throne to avert the coming war. He’s chosen the three surviving boys to compete for who can best impersonate Prince Jaron, who has long been presumed dead. Conner tells the boys that when he’s picked the most successful impersonator, the other two boys will be of no more use to him and will be killed.

The next two weeks are an intense battle as Sage and the other two boys compete against each other to be selected by Conner as the impostor. Conner is a cruel taskmaster, who beats Sage for disobeying him. The other two boys, Tobias and Roden, prove to be imposing adversaries as well. Tobias, who is educated but the weakest of the three, cuts Sage in a fight. Roden, the stronger boy, loses a sword fight to Sage when Conner pits them against each other. Sage proves to have good instincts, identifying a rock as gold despite Conner’s doubts. Sage is beaten for refusing to agree with Conner. However, it’s not all bad as Sage befriends one of Conner’s servants, a kitchen maid named Imogen. In the end, Sage passes every test and proves himself to be the most worthy impostor. Connor orders him to kill his rivals, but Sage refuses and lets them go unharmed, knowing that Conner needs him now. Conner puts his plan into effect, taking Sage to the king’s court and presenting him as what Conner thinks is the impostor prince. However, Sage shocks everyone by revealing that he in fact is the real Prince Jaron, who survived the pirate attack. The entire court is shocked. Conner is enraged, and it is revealed that he has been scheming to take control of the throne for some time. He was responsible for killing the royal family and led the pirate attack that was presumed to have killed Jaron years ago. Conner is arrested for his crimes, and Jaron is finally free to take his rightful throne.

Jennifer Anne Nielsen is an American author best known for young adult fiction. She is the author of the Ascendance Trilogy, The Underworld Chronicles, and A Night Divided, as well as one installment in the Infinity Ring series. She is a two-time winner of the LDS-founded Whitney Award for Best Middle Grade Novel for the first two books in the Ascendance Trilogy.