Date Started: 2/9/15
Date Finished: 2/14/15
Official book summary:
In this first book in a remarkable trilogy, an orphan is forced into a twisted game with deadly stakes.
Choose to lie...or choose to die.
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.
An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.
Per usual, TOTAL spoilers ahead...
Sage, our narrator, is actually Jaron, who escaped before the ship he had been on was attacked by pirates. Turns out that Conner arranged for the pirates to kill Jaron to goad the king into declaring war. But since Jaron wasn't actually killed...welp, no war. Fast forward to current times and Conner has no idea that Jaron is alive and, in fact, in his household. Nor does he know that the king himself convinced Jaron to take on the identity of Sage and to hide himself until necessary - almost like he knew the rest of the family would one day be assassinated - which is, of course, what happens, and what leads Conner to his plan of placing a false prince on the throne in order to save the country. Sage/Jaron is ultimately selected due to a slight-of-hand trick that he can perform and which Conner knew the original Jaron could do. At the end of the book Sage reveals that he is the real Jaron and that he now knows how his family was killed - poisoned by Conner. He exacts his revenge by putting Conner in jail and prepares for the new duty on his shoulders.
Woven in throughout this story is that of a servant girl in Conner's household, Imogen. I found this story line to be a bit flat. I guess it added a bit of romance but felt like I couldn't connect to Imogen as we were given so little about her to go on. Perhaps this is something that will grow in the future installments of the series. I have to imagine so, otherwise what was the point of introducing her (and of Jaron raising her to noble status at the end of the book)?
I liked the pace of this story and the narrator's voice. I find that with YA/MG books it can be more difficult for me to connect with male narrators and I didn't find that to be a problem here at all. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series and finding out what kind of king Jaron turns out to be.