My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Loved this first instalment in the Ascendance series. Jennifer Nielsen really nailed the rebellious Sage. I was rooting for him all the way in this story. From the moment we meet him, we know Sage is resourceful, cunning, daring and has a softer side. He knows how to survive, that is clear. When he is snatched by the mysterious and coldly efficient Conner, we know there is a battle of wills coming. Conner is training Sage and his fellow abductees – Ronen and Tobias- to pose as Prince Jaron, heir to the throne of Carthya. Jaron is presumed dead at the hands of pirates after being sent away by the King and Queen, who then subsequently died in mysterious circumstances. Conner wants to save Carthya from certain war and unrest by taking one of the boys (posing as Prince Jaron) to court on the day the King and Queen are officially declared dead.
The bulk of the story centres on the efforts of the boys to “become” Prince Jaron and it gives Neilsen a chance to reveal the character of each boy (and their servants and trainers) really effectively. Tobias is driven, with a high opinion of himself; Roden is acutely aware of his humble origins, but aspires to rise above them at any cost; Sage tends to act before he thinks, and is not afraid of Conner, or his sidekicks, Cregan and Mott. Along the way, Sage befriends a mute servant girl named Imogen, whom I think will become more important as the series progresses.
I can’t say much more without revealing HUGE spoilers, but I WILL say that this book proceeds at a breakneck pace, with action high on the agenda. Great characters, believeable situations and enough twists and turns to keep even the most seasoned reader on their toes. I can’ wait for Book Two. Hopefully it is not too far away!!!
For ages 10 and up.