Thursday, June 20, 2013

Audiobook Review: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Release date: April 1, 2012
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Scholastic Audio Books
Format: Audio CD
Source: Library
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
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.
Prior to listening to this audiobook, I'd not heard much about The False Prince. I picked it up because I was in the mood for fantasy, which this really doesn't qualify as. There's nothing fantastical about it past the fact that it's a made-up kingdom in a made-up land, which doesn't fit my definition of fantasy. (The sequel seems to have some mention of magic, though!) Despite the entertaining and very strong voice of Sage, The False Prince suffers from a distinct lack of place.

Yes, the world is imaginary, but there's nothing distinct about it. Carthya is a generic land in a vulnerable position. Its position is a little interesting in that its king, queen, and crown prince have all been assassinated and the lords are faced with the position of choosing a new monarch. Even so, the country could have been replaced with any other from any fantasy novel and we wouldn't miss anything; in fact, we might have gained something. I can only hope the world gains some depth with the next books.

Luckily, Sage is such an entertaining character that he saves the book all by himself. He is always several steps ahead of both the reader and Conner. He's always got a witty comeback and makes decisions that look rash at the time but always seem to put him in a better position. It's fun to read about such a smart character; he's never making choices that make you want to smash your head against a wall.

As for the narrator, he was kind of meh to me. When he was speaking in his normal voice, all was well, but when he diverged into the different character's voices I was bit turned off. Also, what was with the mix of American, British, and French accents, even though all of the characters were supposed to be from the same country? That cannot be the only way they could be differentiated. Absolutely not.

All in all, for me, The False Prince was mildly entertaining if a little generic. I have hope for its sequels, though, simply because Sage is so entertaining.

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