Book Review: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Runaway KingThe Runaway King
The Ascendance Trilogy, Book Two
Jennifer A. Nielsen
Scholastic Press, March 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-28415-8

Before the ink was dry on my glowing review of The False Prince, (the first in the Ascendance Trilogy), I was deep into The Runaway King.  This is the second book in the Ascendance Trilogy and it is absolutely everything that I hope for in a continuation.

We met King Jaron earlier, when he was Sage (aka Prince Jaron) hiding away in an orphanage.  He was stubborn, argumentative….a total wise-guy, but he had a pure heart.  Now, his identity established, Jaron will rule Carthya.  He only needs to survive the attempts on his life and thwart the pirate invasion to do so.

On the eve of his family’s funeral, Jaron learns that he has 10 days before the Avenian pirates, supported by King Vargan, wage war on Carthya.  His army simply cannot prepare to defend his country in such a short time.  His only choice is to stop the invasion.  Thus begins a suspenseful adventure, packed with action and intrigue.

While The Runaway King features thrilling sword fights, death-defying escape attempts and fool-hardy challenges, it also demonstrates strong-will, resolve and determination.  All along his journey, Jaron is forced to evaluate the few people close to him.  There are false loyalties, and they must be weeded out.  Friendship needs to be re-established with Roden, the ferocious, vendetta-seeking enemy consumed by his desire to destroy Jaron.  Above all, Jaron must protect those that have supported and assisted him along the way.

To me, Jaron is the ultimate character for a Middle-Grade book.  Outwardly, he appears flippant, arrogant and condescending.  He may truly possess and exhibit those characteristics, but they are not the ones that define the person he is.  Rather, the reader gets to know a determined young man that must pursue that which is right.  With a heart so pure and true, Jaron is driven to protect those he cares about and the country that he loves.  He is a fine example of a true hero.

The Runaway King was just released in March, so I have no idea how long I will need to wait for the conclusion; but I am confident that, however, long; it will be worth the wait.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2013.