The False Prince: The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 1 Book Poster Image

The False Prince: The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 1



Page-turning adventure of false identity and intrigue.
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What parents need to know

Educational value

As a fantasy novel set in a medieval-like world, The False Prince isn't highly educational, but the plot has many twists that will keep readers on their toes.

Positive messages

In the land of Carthya, it's safest not to trust anyone and to act only for yourself, lest you be stabbed in the back. However, even in this story of political intrigue and mistrust, some characters manage to rise above the need for basic survival and take risks to help others and pursue justice.

Positive role models

Sage lies and steals, but he does so in order to survive a harsh life. Despite his hardships, he's a loyal friend, and he stays true to his promises. Some of the secondary characters care about people more than they do power, but others are interested only in their own welfare.  


One boy is murdered in cold blood in front of the others, and the threat of death hangs over the boys throughout the entire book. At one point, Sage is imprisoned in a dungeon and chained and whipped. The boys are trained in swordplay, with some real injuries resulting.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The False Prince, the first book in a planned fantasy trilogy, is fraught with real danger for each of the characters. The exciting, page-turning adventure is told from the point of view of Sage, a young liar and thief who immediately gains reader sympathy despite his seemingly weak moral character and eventually proves that he has redeeming qualities. There's some violence: One boy is murdered in cold blood in front of others, Sage is imprisoned in a dungeon and chained and whipped, and there are some injuries in swordplay.

What's the story?

Sage is used to starving and stealing to survive, but the real danger begins when he and two other boys are bought so that one of them can be molded into the Prince of Carthya, who was lost at sea and presumed dead. In a two-week training course, the boys learn what it takes to be a prince, and irreverent Sage isn't having any of it. At night he explores secret chambers; during the day he sleeps through his lessons. Still, there's something about Sage's brave recklessness that keeps him in the running, despite his lack of skills. As the deadline to choose a false prince nears, the suspense grows, and the plot twists enough to keep readers captivated until the very last page.

Is it any good?


The action in this page-turner doesn't let up from the moment Sage is caught running from pursuers on the first page after stealing a roast to feed his fellow orphans. His sarcastic humor and determination to stay true to himself, even at a risk to his own safety, make him a likable character whom readers will root for.

That said, there are some minor irritations for experienced fantasy readers. For example, Sage is a narrator who keeps things to himself -- he tells us he explores the castle at night, but he doesn't tell us what he finds until the big reveal at the end. And some language rather jarringly takes us out of the medieval setting (the repeated use of the 20th-century word "paranoid," for example). But these are minor quibbles in a complex and interesting story with well-developed characters.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how, in the opening scene, Sage is stealing a roast so he and the other hungry orphans can eat a good meal for once. Is it ever right to steal?

  • Sage doesn't want the other two boys to die, but if he's to survive, they'll have to. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to choose between yourself and your friends?

  • Sage chooses to be imprisoned in the dungeon rather than give up his rock. Is there any object that has such great personal value to you? Why?

Book details

Author:Jennifer A. Nielsen
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Press
Publication date:April 1, 2012
Number of pages:342
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12

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Kid, 10 years old April 26, 2014

VERY GOOD but a bit older (SPOILER ALERT!)

well i think it is fine for kids 10 and up because a kid gets shot in the beginning and a kid gets beaten and there is a mean guy who wants to rule using a boy. I haven't finished the first book yet but i love it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 17 years old Written bysarahmustwrite August 13, 2012

Fabulous MC

I enjoyed the plot and storytelling of this book, but what I really loved was the main character. Sage won me over completely. I cannot wait for the next books in the series.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written by8rebel24 January 7, 2013

Good for anyone! (intrigue, funny moments)

I just finished reading this book, which I had been interested in reading for quite some time. All I can say is: It blew me away. It's perfect for readers who like things to be fast-paced. There's never a stop to the action, intrigue and secrets. There are some violent scenes and ideas (Sage's torture scene, the boys threaten each other with death). However, the competition between the boys is fierce but enjoyable to read. They're all desperate to become the prince, but find time to sometimes crack jokes and plot. Each with their own unique personality, Sage, Roden and Tobias (the boys, but the other characters as well) are entertaining characters. Sage in the end is an admirable person, just wanting to do what is right for Carthya, his country. A twist, lie or betrayal at every turn, this book is perfect for any thrill-seeker (or Game of Thrones fan).
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence


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