One sentence summary: Sage is an orphan boy with a secret (and an attitude), and his secret is going to upend the kingdom.
This book is smart, fun, intriguing, fantasy without being fantasy . . . and appeals to a wide range of ages. Themes of honesty, friendship, duty, loyalty, and family abound.
This was one of our favorite family books in 2012. We listened to it from audible.com (some of us twice!), we read the hard copy (some of us twice), and now we have it on Kindle so we can read it anywhere. $1.99 is a steal. The next book in the series, The Runaway King, comes out March 4. We are so excited!
In previous posts I've compared this book to Newbery Honor winner, The Thief, by Megan Whalen Jones. The story appealed to my 17 year old son as well as my six year old daughter. (But twelve year old Cupcake liked it the best, with fifteen year old Dancegirl following close behind.) I'm always thrilled when I find a book that everyone enjoys. It makes for fabulous dinner conversation!
Note of warning: There is a murder that occurs at the beginning of the book that six year old Lala somehow missed each time we read it. (It isn't graphic, and might be easy to miss, but I think it would bother her tender heart, so I'd watch out for that if you have tender hearts at your house.) It plays a purpose though, and let's the characters know that the "gamble" they face is very serious business.
The characters are well developed, the plot line is intriguing and fun, and the writing is well crafted. . . and the author, Jennifer Nielsen, is absolutely delightful. We met her at an author presentation and just loved her. Cupcake had an upcoming book club party celebrating this book and Jennifer actually dropped some things off at our house for the party! (She doesn't live close, about 2 hours away, but she was "in the neighborhood".) She is coming to our Pickwick Society meeting this week, and speaking to our homeschool co-op's young authors' group. Cupcake and Dancegirl will be performing at Disneyland, so they will miss her presentation (sob!), but it is considerable consolation to Coconut for not being able to go to Disneyland.
Book Two comes out March 4. Happy Birthday to me! With two day shipping it should arrive fairly close to my birthday and that may be my "claim" to get to read it first!