The Runaway King
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Released: March 1, 2013
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description, my take:
Just weeks after Jaron took the throne, a pirate assassin attacks him in his castle and delivers a message: the pirates demand that Jaron is given to them or they will join with Carthya's enemies. Yet no one else is willing to admit that war is coming even though it's so obvious to Jaron.
When another's political move threatens Jaron's tenuous authority, he decides that the only way to stop the threat is if he goes to confront the pirates by himself. But how can one boy manage to destroy the threat of the pirates, especially when a skilled swordsman--a friend-turned-enemy--is one of them?
The Runaway King is a middle grade or young adult fantasy novel. It's the second book in the series, and I'd recommend reading the books in order. This book assumed the reader knew the full reasons behind the strong bonds of friendship between Jason and certain characters. If you read this book before The False Prince, you'll probably wonder why certain characters act the way they do.
As with the first book, the twists in this story won't surprise anyone who reads a lot of traditional fantasy. This book was more focused on the action and danger than on character development. The new characters were interesting and varied, but very few of the characters that I cared about from the first novel played much of a role in this one.
In the first book, Jaron didn't outright think about who really he was, but we got plenty of clues. He also was very clever about spotting intrigues that others didn't see. Yet, in this book, Jaron didn't seem to see an obvious plot going on under his nose. We're also not told Jaron's ultimate motives or intentions until nearly after the fact. He kept wondering how he would "destroy the pirates" when the solution was obvious to me and should have been to him, but he never thought, "I can't do plan A because..." So I was left feeling mildly frustrated with him. It turned out that he did have a good reason--two good reasons--why he didn't immediately do the "obvious solution" and he wasn't as clueless as he sometimes seemed. Yet I would have enjoyed the story more if I'd understood why he was acting in ways that didn't make sense to me.
Despite this frustration, I did enjoy the story and intend to read the final book in the trilogy. This book ended on a cliff-hanger, but part of the cliff-hanger seemed forced. Everyone knows Jaron has a weak spot, he knows that the border area isn't safe, so why...? The same result could have occurred without our clever main characters practically begging the bad guys to do it. Who knows? Maybe it'll turn out that they did do it on purpose.
There was a very minor amount of "he cursed" style of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this fantasy novel to those who liked the first book.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.