The Runaway King hits his stride

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Runaway King picks up a few weeks after Jaron, thought to be dead for a number of years, came back to Carthya to take his rightful place on the throne. Vargan, the king of neighbouring Avenia, is a clear threat and makes no secret of his desire to wrest the throne from Jaron’s grasp. Too emotional to attend his parents’ funeral, Jaron takes refuge in a favourte part of the castle grounds, only to become the victim of an attack by none other than Roden, one of his former fellow “trainees” from the last book. During their encounter Roden reveals he has joined the pirates – the very people who had been commissioned to kill Jaron and the king and queen. Roden gives Jaron an ultimatum – give himself up to the pirates so they can finish the job, or they will attack Carthya and destroy it to get to him. Of course, Jaron refuses and stands his ground. After a brief tussle, Jaron is knocked out an when he comes to, Roden is gone.
Jaron is surrounded by people doing things in secret: his betrothed, Amarida, seems to be in cahoots with Conner, his enemy and former captor who is now himself in jail; Gregor, a regent, wants to become Jaron’s Chief Steward, which would give him more power than Jaron would be confortable with. He doesn’t know who to trust, execpt Imogen – the servant girl who helped to save him, and Mott – the servant who trained him at Conner’s estate.
Not sure who is an ally or an enemy, Jaron resolves to go the pirates himself, as Sage, and defeat them from within before Roden returns in 9 days. This sets the scene for lots of action and intrigue. As in The False Prince the rest of the story is fast-paced and engaging. There are anxious moments, and moments of revelation as the conspirators and their allys are revealed and defeated. And just when we think everything is smooth sailing, Avenia starts an invasion – setting the scene for the third and final instalment. I really hope Jaron grows up a bit more in the next book – he needs to stop being so hot-headed all the time, but I can’t wait to find out what happens. Bring on Book 3!