The Runaway King: The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 2

Common Sense Media says

Young king faces pirates, thieves in swashbuckling sequel.





What parents need to know

Educational value

This fantasy adventure isn't particularly educational, but the complex plot might present a challenge for some readers.

Positive messages

In The Runaway King, Jaron and his friends all share the quality of caring strongly about their ideals  and being willing to take a stand to protect them, even at great risk to their safety. Although Jaron can be reckless, his friends' loyalty is more tempered with common sense.

Positive role models

Jaron has noble ideals, but he often comes across as arrogant and makes many reckless decisions that endanger himself and the people he cares for, but they're all in the name of protecting his beloved kingdom and his friends. Jaron's loyal friends frequently warn him about the mistakes he's about to make, but he consistently disregards their advice. His saving graces are his bravery, loyalty, and sly sense of humor, which he turns on himself when he realizes his mistakes. Midway through The Runaway King he begins to show some humility, and ultimately he learns from his errors.


The Runaway King opens with an assassination attempt on protagonist Jaron, and he repeatedly faces violent danger: He fights off a band of thieves to protect a girl about to be kidnapped, and he endures many trials by swordfight to prove his worth to bands of thieves and pirates. A boy is whipped when he disobeys the pirates. One of Jaron's enemies hits him with a club and breaks his leg. However, despite the violence that seems to follow him, Jaron uses physical force only when he has no other choice.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Runaway King is the second in The Ascendance Trilogy and, like its predecessor, The False Prince, is an exciting action-filled adventure story. Jaron faces almost constant danger in the form of thieves, pirates, and nobles all intent on ensuring that he does not get a chance to claim his throne. As such, there are plenty of sword fights and near-death experiences, including a scene where someone clubs Jaron's leg, intentionally breaking it. Jaron always has a cocky remark to mask his fear, and he has friends who care for him and do their best to protect them.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

After the harrowing events of The False Prince, Jaron is now the title character of THE RUNAWAY KING and the ruler of Carthya. However, the regents who have been ruling in his stead aren't exactly welcoming him to the throne. Nor do they believe him when Jaron insists Carthya is about to be invaded by another country and the pirates who kidnapped him as a child. Against his best friends' advice, Jaron runs off to join the pirates, believing the only way to stop the invasion is from the inside. Rather than infiltrating them, however, he ends up their prisoner and, once again, Jaron must use his sharp wits, along with a little swordplay, to save himself, his friends, and his country.

Is it any good?


Readers who enjoyed the action of The False Prince will find more of the same in THE RUNAWAY KING, as Jaron runs headlong from one adventure into the next, barely saving himself from danger before an even worse situation befalls him. Jaron is loyal to his friends to a fault, and with a witty tongue to banter with the various captors who nearly kill him, he can be an appealing hero. However, his arrogance can be grating, and the reasoning behind his reckless schemes is often unclear, so he seems to constantly put himself into needless danger. Still, the pacing of this page-turner will probably carry readers along and allow them to overlook these complaints.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Jaron often makes a decision to do something and then, after it is too late, realizes he made the wrong decision. Has this ever happened to you? What did you do to solve the problem?

  • The fast pace of The Runaway King makes it easy to picture as a movie. Who would you pick to play Jaron? Who would you cast as his friends? Does this book remind you of any movies you've seen?

  • For part of The Runaway King, Jaron must pretend to be someone else. Do you think a king could get away with a scheme like that in today's world, with such easy access to the Internet and social media?

Book details

Author:Jennifer A. Nielsen
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, History, Pirates
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Press
Publication date:March 1, 2013
Number of pages:352
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 17
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle, Nook

This review of The Runaway King: The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 2 was written by

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  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written by♦Bookworm♦ July 21, 2013

A well-written page-turner

The Runaway King was a great addition to the Ascendance Trilogy! It has a wonderful, captivating plot that leaves you eager to see what will happen next. The main flaw was that it was rather annoying how he could literally do everything: challenge pirate kings, climb cliffs with a broken leg, etc. However, it is a fictional book after all.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byfuzzmee January 27, 2015

Enthralling Sequel That Improves Upon it's Predecessor

With every installmant in the series, it leaves you wanting more. Very well written, fast-paced, page turner with an original plot and characters. Also, there is no love triangle, which is rare in YA novels (I was getting SO sick with the whole love triangle thing that's in every YA novel, that if I had read about another one, I'd be done with reading books forever more haha But these books don't have one so YAY :) Should appeal to the fans of The Hunger Games, Divergant, and Harry Potter.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byBooklover123m December 16, 2014


This is a great book and i would totally recommend it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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