Review: The Runaway King

Cover of "The Runaway King," featuring a broken sword on a green background
Image from 365 Books in 365 Days

Title: The Runaway King

Series: Ascendance Trilogy #2

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Genre: Fantasy

WARNING: The Runaway King is second in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous book.

Back Cover:

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?


I loved the first book in the Ascendance trilogy, The False Prince, so I was thrilled to get my hands on this book. And it was as fabulous as expected and more.

Jaron was the same old Sage/Jaron – headstrong, reckless, and with an astounding gift for ticking people off. It’s seriously a good thing his closest friends were so loyal, otherwise I’m sure someone would have assassinated him already. Still, even though he didn’t seem to care much for his own safety (not always the greatest trait in a king), he really cared about other people. Which just made him exasperating his advisers super fun.

There’s so many characters I could mention! Mott, who has more patience than Jaron probably deserves; the devoted Tobias; Roden, Jaron’s now-enemy; strong-willed Imogen, Fink the talkative thief, (name) the kind nobleman…none of them major enough to warrant their own paragraph, but none of them minor enough to ignore, either.

The Runaway King started out with a political-unrest-among-regents plot. It would have been boring if anyone but Jaron had been narrating. He gave it a tense, the-idiots-won’t-listen-to-me air that made it awesome – and made me want to turn the page and see if they get their way. Plus, that plot comes back in the end, when Jaron figures out what’s really going on.

I didn’t expect pirates. Or thieves. But both of them ended up being a huge part of the plot. In fact, they mostly were the plot. Once Jaron left the palace, the whole story was thieves and pirates and watching Jaron be Sage again. It was completely unexpected, but absolutely awesome.

The Runaway King isn’t what I’d call a fairy tale. But the writing had an awesome lyrical, almost-but-not-quite old-fashioned style that sometimes gave it a fairy tale vibe and sometimes seemed more medieval. Whatever it was, I loved it.

The number of times I used “awesome” in this review should get my point across. I loved this book. The title (and release date) of book three isn’t released yet, but the sooner I can get my hands on it, the better.

The Ascendance Trilogy:

  1. The False Prince
  2. The Runaway King
  3. The Shadow Throne

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