Sage is an orphan boy who is captured and quickly falls into a conspiracy plot to become a puppet prince for the kingdom. He's quick witted and always seems to be half a step ahead of all schemes.
I liked this book more than I expected. The protagonist really does think on his feet and is not the typical helpless orphan boy caught in a tangled web. Some parts of the story are weak, especially the plot twist at the end. While it is believable, I would have preferred if Sage were just an orphan boy and not actually the prince. It would have made the plot more interesting to see how he could have handled the court rather than just coming into his power.
The competition between the three boys was so-so: not bad, but not great either. The length of the competition wasn't believable (3 weeks to mold orphan boys into a prince-a-like? no way). But the insight into the personality and lessons of each boy was interesting and kept up the story. I also did like how Sage discovered the secrets of the hold he was staying at.
The "mute" serving girl was a small annoyance because I can see her becoming the love interest in future novels. Honestly, she has no purpose in the story besides a potential love interest, which bores me. Characters with such obvious roles make me roll my eyes, especially weak girls for love. Please. Spare me.
However, I am looking forward to the sequel because following Sage's story is quite interesting. I'm always happily surprised at what he does or says. However, as I said before, I do think making him the true prince weakens the story. Acting as a puppet prince, avoiding the council men's schemes as well as Connor's claim on him through wit and fast-thinking would have been intense. But still, I'm sure Nielsen will produce.
Three stars for being a moderately interesting story with a solid plot line and developed characters. Only minor gripes with the story. Worth a read.