Review: "The Runaway King" by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Its more than half-way through NaNoWriMo and in the midst of my panic and struggle to get through my fifty thousand words, I'm writing a book review! This is the second book in Nielsen's series that began with The False Prince so as always I warn anyone reading there will be spoilers to the previous book and the contents of the book I'm reviewing now. You have been warned.

A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen's blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!

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?

The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!​

Nielsen delivers an exciting ride yet again through her main character Sage, A.K.A. King Jaron and his dramatic flare for adventure. In this book an assassination attempt leaves Jaron reeling, which ultimately leads him on a particularly dangerous journey to confront the very pirates that had previously made attempts on his life.

Jaron's trust in his regents, and his very friends are tested to intimidating limits throughout his adventure. One of the highlights of this book was how crucial consequential Jaron's nature became in situations where survival depended entirely on his ability to trust in newly acquired allies. The struggle of Jaron's ability to trust is true to the character we got to know in the previous book and really sets the stage here.

I also enjoyed the time invested in Jaron's character development in this book, especially when faced with his own council's uncertainty with his ability to rule. In his race against the clock to end the attempts on his life from the pirates before his council places another on the throne, Jaron proves just how important his namesake is to him and how far he's willing to go to keep it.

Perhaps the only criticism I have for this book is how the encounter with the pirates did not occur until the very end of the book. It was the most interesting and heart pounding part of the story and I only wish it had lasted longer. Devlin was an intimidating and ruthless pirate captain that had been chasing Jaron practically his entire life, it was a little disappointing that we did not get to spend more time with their confrontation, especially when the encounter led to such an enlightening exposition in the conspiracy that was bringing Jaron's country to war. Overall though, I still enjoyed the ride from beginning to end.

If you read Nielsen's The False Prince and haven't read The Runaway King, you definitely need to pick up a copy and continue the journey.

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