Monday, March 04, 2013

Middle Grade Monday-- The Runaway King

The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy, #2)Nielsen, Jennifer A. The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy Book #2)
1 March 2013, Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by

We meet Jaron again at the funeral of his family...only he is so conflicted about this that he is taking a moment in a garden, and Roden shows up to assassinate him.In league with Devlin, the pirate king, Roden grievously injures Jaron, but takes off. When the regents meet, they are concerned about the growing threat of the pirates, but also don't feel that Jaron is ready to rule or that he has good opinions, so they want to send him to hide. Jaron feels that there are a lot of hidden threats both outside and inside the castle walls, so he pretends to hole up in the castle, but runs off. On his journey, he runs into the pirates and saves a young girl, Nila, after her mother has been killed. He returns he to Libeth, where he meets her very helpful grandfather, Rulan Harlowe, who offers him support and a place to rest. Feeling that the evil King Vargen is in league with Devlin, Jaron leaves, only to be turned over to the pirate Erick by a young boy, Fink. Jaron becomes a pirate and is taken to Tarblade, where he must adhere to the pirate code. He pretends once again to be Sage, a thief, and even Imogen (who he sent off from the castle for her own safety) doesn't give him away. Jeron promises the pirates that he will take them to a cave where the treasury of Carthya is, but before they set off, Gregor, a traitor who is on the board of regents, shows up and blows Jeron's cover. Roden shows up as well, and Jeron is in terrible danger. Will he be able to defeat the pirates and stay alive?
Strengths: As in The False Prince, this is a good adventure book with tons of political intrigue and enough sword fights to keep fans of The Ranger's Apprentice happy. It's not really fantasy-- there's no magic. I liked the relationship with Imogen and thought it had a good twist. Harlowe was just wonderful, and I hope to see more of him in the next book. Plenty of villains, and some that weren't completely evil, which is always interesting.
Weaknesses: A bit heavy on the intrigue and light on the action. Jaron spends a lot of the book injured in various ways; I would hope he would be a better fighter! As long as the whole issue of Carthya being under attack by all and sundry ends in an epic battle, I'll be happy, but this was a bit slower than I thought it would be.
 It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts. Both sites have lots of links to reviews about books that are great for the 4th through 8th grader. It's also Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week at Supratentorial.

The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the WorldLosure, Mary. The Fairy Ring or Elsie and Frances Fool the World: A True Story.
27 March 2012, Candlewick

Cousins Elsie and Frances are thrown together during WWI when their families have to move in together. Even though Elsie was much older, they get along well, and share a love of drawing and photography. They create tableaux of fairies and use a heavy camera with plate glass negatives of the time to take a few pictures. These are kept and shown to assorted friends, and come to the attention of someone interested in paranormal events. Additional pictures are taken and lauded as being true and untampered with, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who also found phenomenon like fairies interesting. He managed to get some of the pictures published in a national magazine. After the attention, which made them uncomfortable, the cousins went on their ways and didn't admit for years and years that the pictures were of drawings.
Strengths: This was an interesting book that might appeal to Rumer Godden fans, and I enjoyed the whole 1920s feel of the book. It was well researched and the interview process was impressive. It was interesting to see the pictures in question.
Weaknesses: I wish that pictures of the cousins when they were older and being interviewed in the 1980s would have been included. There were also a few places where it would have been useful to have dates included.


  1. Thanks for reviewing The Runaway King. Personally, I loved, loved, loved this one. I think Jennifer Nielsen is a brilliant author.

  2. I thought the Fairy Ring was SUCH an interesting story. I totally agree with you about the weaknesses, though. I would have loved to see what the cousins looked like when they were older!

  3. Anonymous1:16 PM EST

    I've got an arc for The Runaway King to look forward to after I finish The False Prince as a read aloud with my third grader. We're enjoying seeing where Conner's plan is heading. Fairy Ring sounds interesting!

  4. I love Fairy Ring!! I have let a former student borrow it and have yet to hear her opinions. Have you heard any student opinions on the book yet?

  5. Runaway King sounds like a book my sixth graders would love....thanks for reviewing it!

  6. Anonymous8:40 PM EST

    Thanks for reviewing both of these. My son is anxiously awaiting The Runaway King.

  7. I have a weakness of fairies - I must have been one in a parallel universe where they exist. I am not sure if this book is the one adapted into a film? I seem to recall watching something with a similar story line once before. I've been seeing a lot of Jennifer Nielsen's books - not sure though whether it would be my kind of read. :) Have a great reading week ahead of you.

  8. I definitely want to read The Fairy Ring. It sounds so different from what I was expecting. Thanks for sharing!