Friday, 10 May 2013

Review -- The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Runaway King

Title: The Runaway King
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy (2)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: 01 March 2013
Date Read: April 2013
Rating: ★★★

A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive?

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars, but I'm feeling quite generous.

Sage Jaron is a very different character than the one we had known from The False Prince, and not just because of his name change. No one in his kingdom, even his friends sometimes, believed in him. I got so angry at how quickly the regents and guards dismissed him as their king, seeing him only as the childish impulsive fool he used to be. Which... *sigh* I suppose is fair enough because that side of his was the only one they know. Jaron has never really gave them any reason to believe otherwise either. But they could have at least given him the chance to prove himself instead of immediately believing the worst. Anyway, quite a fair bit of self-pity stemmed from this. Jaron didn't believe in himself, either. He didn't think he was fit enough to serve and lead his kingdom. But that doesn't mean he would give up his throne that easily. 

After an assassination attempt, Jaron becomes convinced that the only way to save his kingdom, Carthya, and his loved ones from being attacked by the pirates is to destroy them first. Idiotic? Yes, which then proves the regents right. It is a vicious, vicious cycle. And so begins Jaron's trek to the pirates' camp- the ruthless, vicious, fearsome pirates.

Jaron is as reckless, bold and sassy as ever.
[The Pirate King said,] "By the end of this day, there will be no Jaron. I will be king of Carthya."

"You wouldn't want to be king of my country," [Jaron] said.

"Why is that?"

"Well, you're rather fat. I doubt you'd fit onto my throne."

This exchange occurred while Jaron was on his knees at the Pirate King's feet, with a sword against his neck. I don't know if I should give him a high five for the sass, or slap the back of his head for his complete stupidity. It wouldn't be Jaron if he didn't say stuff like this though. But my God, he was a grade-A jackass in The Runaway King. I know his purposes was to distance those he loved away from him, and from danger. I get that, but I feel like Nielsen went a bit too overboard. He was so mean to his friends and it came across as ungrateful. Where was that cunning protagonist I met in The False Prince, and who is this childish, impulsive twat? This is probably because of Jaron's insecurities about being the king and his youth shone through brighter than ever in this novel.

The romance had a bigger presence in The Runaway King, than it did on The False Prince. That is not to say it was a focus or was even a constant thing in the novel. Jaron and Imogen have always found comfort with each other's company but they soon realize that they have more than platonic feelings towards each other. But they obviously can not be together. Jaron is the king and Imogen just a lowly kitchen servant. Not to mention Jaron is betrothed to Amarinda, princess of the kingdom that's  Carthya's only ally. Like I said before, Jaron kept saying and doing such rude things to his loved ones to save them from danger, namely Imogen. I truly admire Imogen's steadfast loyalty, trust and love for Jaron even after all the bullshit he's done. I don't even know what's happening with Amarinda, to be honest. I don't like her. I don't know if Nielsen meant for her readers to like her at all because she's certainly not given us any reason to. Her character could have been developed so much more.

There are a lot more action and fight scenes especially with the pirate's presence. But I feel like The False Prince was a middle-grade book that older audience could enjoy while The Runaway King fits the audience it was written for. Maybe, I'm a little disappointed at the fact that there wasn't like a twist at the end, as well. I'll definitely still read the last book in the trilogy, though, because I feel like Jaron did develop and change towards the very end of it. I'm hoping in the last one he'll be more mature, more trusting of his friends and less likely to make dumb decisions.

Note: I hate writing reviews for sequels, that's why this one's a bit... Eh.

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