Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy, #2) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

A plain 'o rip-roaring adventure ye won't wanna put down with crazy plot twists and turns, nonstop action and tension, and terrific characters. Jaron or Sage is back with his smart aleck bad boy ways where he can be quite unpredictable with actions, predictable with the girls (they react unpredictably toward him), and charming if he has to talk his way out of a tangle. Like Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow or Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Sage is a character that is charming, cranky, good, and vulnerable; he sweeps you along with the storyline and you'll like him so much ye won't care about some of the unbelievable things he does because he'll spit out some funny line in a tight spot or use his wits when ye don't expect it. Add some strong supporting characters and some nasty 'ole pirates and ye got yerself a whole lotta fun! And don't worry, there is no pirate talk. I just couldn't resist having a little fun meself spicing up me review.

Jaron is trying to run his kingdom, but war is looming from his greedy neighbors who want the lush forests and natural springs that adorn the Carthya landscape. Except the pirates to the west. They don't care about the land. They want Jaron dead. Their failure to kill him four years ago plagues the Pirate King's ego. When Jaron's authority is undermined by his captain of the guard, who wants the regents to install a steward, Jaron is forced to flee and deal with his enemies himself. This impossible task teaches him that he must learn to trust others and find the meaning of true friendship. (He's working on the true love part, but we are not sure how that will go.)

I appreciate that the author pretty much wraps up all the loose ends, saving a few tidbits for the next sequel. The character, Jaron, uses his wits (loved the plague trick) as well as athletic skills; the girls  are strong-willed;  and Fink and Erick are a nice addition to the mix. The pirate Devlin is one-dimensional, but Roden isn't, which makes for an interesting character study even if his quick change of heart at the end was somewhat unbelievable. But hey, boys will be boys. Except these boys were awfully brutal to each other. And speaking of crazy, never mind that Jaron can climb a cliff with a broken leg and sword fight right after on one leg with the best sword fighter in the country. Like other archetypical heroes and their unbelievable feats, Jaron is typical of the well-loved monomyth.

So 'matey, while this book is a little more predictable in spots than the first, and unbelievable in others, it is still a fun read that won't disappoint fans of the first book.

Reading level around 5 (my guess based on book 1)
Fountas & Pinnell: around S (my guess)

4 out of 5 Smileys

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