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. Rumours 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 instalment 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!
Please note: This is book two in the series, and there will be definite spoilers for book one in this review I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it goes. Turn back now, all ye who would remain unspoiled and unknowing! No, seriously, you won’t want to read any further if you haven’t read book one.
It’s a month after Sage – now Jaron – has taken his rightful place as the long-lost prince of Carthya, and assumed the throne. He’s already bored by the rigid structures of his role, and escapes the formal funeral being held for his family, only to walk right into an attempt on his life. To his shock, he comes face to face with Roden, his former friend and sworn enemy, now joined with the Avenian pirates. He threatens Jaron, and gives him ten days to surrender or the pirates will take back Carthya. This, coupled with other events that make him uneasy, convince Jaron that he must leave behind his princely persona, and once again assume the role of Sage as he attempts to infiltrate the pirates.
This is a more serious Sage than before, and he’s matured a great deal from the first book. That’s not to say that he’s lost his touch for a quick joke and the ability to fight – indeed, he’s just as sharp as before. but he also needs to rely more on his friends … if he can figure out who they might be. Imogen is also back and their relationship has evolved; heartbreak, however, looms on the horizon as Sage/Jaron is still betrothed.
It’s fantastic to see how much Sage has matured, and how compassionate he can be. This often works to his detriment, however, as he is reluctant to take the support offered for fear of drawing others into his problems. There are some lovely little moments as he realizes just how deeply his friends have come to care for him, and how much they have risked to help him in his times of need. There a little more violence in this instalment, and the injuries are more severe. I winced at some of the viciousness that occurs near the end of the book, but it’s not gratuitous. Instead, it serves to underscore Sage’s determination to do what is right for his friends and for his people, no matter the cost. It’s this ability to grow the characters that makes this such a wonderful series for this age group; they can absolutely relate to the characters, and are drawn into the story immediately.
The story is a little more sombre, although Sage’s sense of humour is as dry and sarcastic as ever. For those who loved the action in the first book – well, you won’t be disappointed. There’s a little more sword fighting, lots of twists and turns, a lot of mental and verbal jousting, and there’s a particularly nail-biting scene at the end that will leave you on the edge of your seat. My advice? Be sure not to read it too late into the night, or you’ll never get to sleep. Perhaps my only quibble is that it ends on a cliffhanger, and now I have to wait another year to find out what Sage and his friends will have to endure next!
The Runaway King is published by Scholastic Canada, and is available from Indigo, Amazon and your friendly independent bookseller. 352 pages, ISBN: 9780545284158
Intrigued? Want to try a sample? Check out the Scholastic site for a sample excerpt from the book to read before you buy!