Reading Level: Young Adult
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date:March 1, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Ascendance Trilogy
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
This is the second book in the Ascendance trilogy by Nielsen. I absolutely loved the first book in this series, The False Prince, and was really looking forward to reading The Runaway King. This is an absolutely wonderful book. It starts a bit slower than The False Prince, but in the end I loved it almost as much.
Jaron has only been on the throne a few weeks when the first assassination attempt happens. He is forced into a difficult situation where his regents want him to install someone to rule for him until he comes of age. Given the complicated politics going on Jaron decides the best way to save his kingdom is to leave it and take things into his own hands.
I thought the beginning of this book was a bit weaker than The False Prince. I think mainly this is because Jaron really seems out of his element in the castle as King, he isn’t doing a good job of being King and he knows this. He’s loath to give up and run away, but finally makes the rash and strangely mature decision to do just that to save his kingdom at the cost of his pride.
Jaron is pretty much what makes this book. He is hilariously snarky, brilliant, and heart stoppingly rash at times. He takes huge risks and is resourceful enough to make them work in his favor. I really enjoyed him as a character. He is incredibly entertaining, engaging, and completely unpredictable.
The support characters are all very well done as well. Imogen does an excellent job of supporting Jaron in her own subtle and sneaky way; she doesn’t have the flash and dash of a lot of heroines out there, but she is effective and persistent.
Jaron is an incredibly difficult person to deal with throughout the novels, still somehow he manages to surround himself with good and loyal people. A number of new characters are introduced through the course of this novel, they are all very interesting and engaging characters that really add to the story.
The plot has a ton of twists and turns and lots of interesting intrigue. Jaron ends up immersed in pirate culture and dealing with pirate codes, which you have to admit is pretty darn cool. The story is action packed and full of daring escapes, amazing feats of thievery, and even wonderfully orchestrated duels. The pace is well done and the book is engaging.
Overall this was a wonderful continuation of this series. Jaron is an awesome character and many new and interesting characters are introduced into the story. The story is action packed, full of twists and turns, and all in all just very well done. I didn’t like this book quite as much as the first one, it started a bit slow, but I still really really enjoyed it. This whole series is highly recommended to fans of fantasy. Appropriate for middle grade and older readers.