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Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Runaway King, written by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Scholastic, 2013. $19.99 ages 12 and up

"I had arrived early for my own assassination. It was the evening of my family's funeral, and I should have been at the chapel. But the thought of mourning alongside the arrogant coxcombs who would also be there sickened me. If I were anyone else, this would have been a private matter. For a month, I had been King of Carthya, a role for which I had never been prepared..."

This is a rip-roaring sequel to The False Prince. There was much to admire in
Sage from the moment we meet him. He is ferociously independent, quick to anger, intelligent, opposed to any kind of pain inflicted upon him, and has a wanton disregard for others' advice. It could make him a pain in the neck; and he is for some. For me, while I was constantly bewildered by his decisions, he dragged me along on this next part of his journey.

As the newly named King of Carthya, he is a target for those who want control of his kingdom. The first assassin is his old nemesis Roden. After that attempt, Jaron decides that he will run from his kingdom in order to save it. With every decision he makes, I grew more concerned for his safety and that is what kept me turning the pages and caring about him. While the choices he makes seem sure to have dire consequences, and do at times, you just keep hoping that it will all turn to good. The characters remain worthy, and the new ones add to Jaron's league of friends and enemies. I can only hope we will meet some of them again.

Kids who are fans will find just what they want in this second book: tension, sword fights, pirates, stunts that make you close your eyes and hope for the best. It moves quickly and is a worthy middle book for The Ascendance Trilogy. Jennifer Nielsen does a smashing job of leaving us just as war is about to break out with questions about Jaron's leadership, his future and some of our favorite people. Come on, final installment!

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