In my quest to read all 20 of the Rebecca Caudill nominees, I will sometimes discover a book that causes me to get side-tracked from my original goal. In those instances, I become so entranced by a storyline that I feel compelled to finish an entire series before moving on. The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, is one such book.
In the land of Carthya, chaos is about to ensue due to the poisoning deaths of the kingdom’s royal family. Before word of the deaths can spread, a nobleman named Connor hatches a devious plan to “find” the country’s long-lost, presumed dead at the hand of pirates, Prince Jaron. Calling to mind elements of The Prince and the Pauper, Connor plots to scour orphanages for boys with a resemblance to the former prince, to train those boys in the knowledge and art of being royalty, and to pass one of the boys off as the Ascendant Prince, all while grabbing additional power for himself. Connor locates and purchases four orphaned boys (Jaron, Latamer, Roden, and Tobias) who become rivals and allies. With similarities to both Survivor and the Hunger Games, since those not chosen can’t be allowed to spoil the plan, the trainees must learn quickly or be eliminated…permanently.
Full of adventure, sword-play, action, and intrigue, the book contains enough twists and turns to entertain and surprise even jaded readers. I heartily recommend it to youth and adults (grades 5 and up) who like fantasy and adventure stories set in medieval times.