The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy #2) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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King Jaron (formerly known as Sage) were overwhelmed by his sudden responsibility as a king to a crumbling kingdom. The reagents remained unconvinced by his rebellious and out of character as a king and using his age and incompetence against him so that the kingdom would remain under a stewardship until Jaron is of age. But the kingdom couldn’t wait for Jaron to be mature enough to rule over them even as the neighboring country, Avenia, weren’t trying to be subtle enough with their intentions for an invasion. At to that, even the pirate king seemingly want to help the Avenians due to his debt over failing to kill Jaron years prior to the current event. An assassination attempt drew Jaron even further into the limbo to end the strife but he couldn’t risk his people and apparently his only solution is for himself to go to pirates and end them.

The first book of the series, The False Prince, introduce us to a fifteen year old boy and two others are groomed so that one of them would become a fake prince for a reagent to take over the court. In the end, it turns out, the fake prince is the real prince who went hiding and on the mission to find out who murdered his family. However, we’re left with a degree of uncertainty as the kingdom itself is in turmoil even during his father’s reign. 

For a children book, the story explore further about how this seemingly innocent tale about a boy who became a king and expose the reader to the corruption and the power play that come with the responsibility of governing a kingdom. Even as his court was in battle between whether a boy should rule the kingdom, Jaron seemed to be powerless and even more helpless as he knew his people and his kingdom lived on a borrowed time. He knew that war is coming and he could do nothing to stop it. With an additional warning from a former friend turned arch enemy, Jaron was more determined to save his country even if he had to do it alone and without his title or his army protecting him.

I like Jaron more and are able to empathize with him more than as Sage. In the first book, we see him as the highly motivated orphan trying to hide being himself while in this book, we’re able to see Jaron trying to save his kingdom and are willing to sacrifice even more for it even hurting the people he love the most. As the story goes on in an almost pseudo-adventure like, we could see he was thinking ahead of the people and are careful with his words and conduct. He gambled a lot and most often it didn’t go as well as it should. He made mistake and at times even when he was helpless and death stare him straight in the face, he just risk everything and goes on. I am pretty sure that sort of recklessness is stupid but its undeniable that Jaron is a force to reckoned with and also interesting character to read.

Made no mistake, I enjoy this book more than the last one. Normally, if its a series, the second book tend to lose its steam but not this one. Even if I went through chapters in the book, predicting Jaron’s decision every few paragraphs, I was pleasantly surprised to be blindsided by Nielsen’s storycrafting. Fast paced, action-filled and driving intensity. If I had to recommend a fantasy book that I could recommend for stubborn boys who don’t like to read, I would choose this series.

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