by Jennifer A. Nielson
The reason this book deserves such a high rating is because I couldn’t put it down and I was completely oblivious to everything around me at the time. That’s pretty rare in a book. When reading other books, I can usually make out a voice (and judge how insistent they are and whether the level of insistence deserves my immediate attention), but here was completely unaware of my surroundings.
According to Goodreads: “In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.”
The book is brimming with scattered plot twists and one major one that I didn’t even consider until exactly chapter 42. I was just smiling the entire time through the succeeding chapters. It’s also very clean and witty. It feels like there should be magic involved, but it’s completely fictional.
The main character, Sage has incredible talents. The best thing about him is that he doesn’t change at all through out the novel, until the very end. (Most main characters eventually bend to others’ will, but Sage stayed true to what he wanted the entire time and I loved that about him.) His narrative voice is strong and clever. When I mean clever, I mean like Sherlock Holmes clever. He’s always ahead of everyone, even the reader. Yet, like Sherlock Holmes, the reader can also keep up if they notice tiny details or notice details that are skipped over. If you fill in the small amount of time Sage doesn’t mention, you can usually guess what he’s up to. If he mentions something even in passing, you can be sure he’ll be back to observe it in secret. That was also another of my favorite aspects of the book.
It was just a seriously amazing story and there’s a lot more I can write about it, but I do want to keep this spoiler free. It’s definitely going on my favorite shelf as well as my Insha’Allah (to-buy) list!