Sage has lived in a series of orphanages since leaving his family behind some years before. He manages to survive by stealing, mostly extra food for himself and the other children. One day, a man collects him and a few other boys his age from orphanages around their country, Carthya, and takes them to his home. Unfortunately, Conner’s mission isn’t a benevolent one. He plans to use the three boys who come to his estate to take control of the kingdom. Over the course of two weeks, he will teach the boys about Carthya and its lost prince, Jaron. At the end of that time, he will choose one to take to the palace to claim he is the prince — and his methods of teaching them make it clear the other two not chosen won’t live to tell anything about it.
Sage isn’t particularly eager to be a prince, certainly not under the control of Conner, and pretty much as a general principle. He would just like to have his freedom. His stubborn streak leads him more often than not to balk at Conner’s lessons and desires for him to work hard. But hanging over it always is the knowledge he will surely die if he doesn’t go along. The other two boys want to win, and they’ll probably stop at nothing to do so. The story gallops along as the days and hours tick by, and Conner pits the boys against each other, never seeming to be sure who he wants as his false prince.
Readers can’t help be intrigued and eager to know what happens as the plot thickens page by page. There are interesting developments, even until the very end. I enjoyed reading it as an adult, and I’m sure that its intended audience, middle readers (boys and girls alike), will eat it up. There will be more to come, too.
Rated: Mild, for some mild violence.