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The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
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The False Princess

by Eilis O'Neal

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4224625,093 (3.86)19
  1. 00
    The Jewel of the Kalderash by Marie Rutkoski (keeneam)
    keeneam: Both this books deal with magic and deception and royalty
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Intrigue. Family vendettas. Babies switched at birth. A soap-opera type tale with a magical twist. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
Originally posted at Libri Ago.

★★★½

Talk about traumatizing. Grow up thinking you're one thing then being told you're another while being forced from your home and replaced by the "real" you . . . Yeah, I'd be a little upset. The False Princess gives us just such a situation with the unfortunate was-a-princess-but-not-really Sinda.

In what could have easily been a run-of-the-mill princess story, O'Neal steps it up a notch about halfway in with a twist and some added development. I'm not talking about the not-a-princess thing. That happened right at the beginning. Instead of sticking with a rather cut-and-dry plot, the author changes things up, thus adding depth and complexity to the characters and the entire plot.

While I appreciated the surprising plot, the writing felt like it needed a little bit more development. The pace was on the slow side and I found myself skimming large chunks of Sinda's thoughts. Explaining events or situations the reader should—and probably did—figure out on their own made the narrative cumbersome.

Another area that wasn't fully developed was the magic system in the book. In any fantasy world there is generally a) magic, b) its own mythology and hierarchy of gods, or c) both. It is vastly important to create a clear and solid system for those elements because everything in this world affects how people act and interact within their own community and society as a whole. People who possess magic act differently than someone who lives in a world where magic doesn't exist. Cultures that worship multiple gods will work differently than those that are atheist.

The False Princess is that this world has magic and deities, but we're never given a clear understanding of how that works. Yes, there are oracles who prophecy future events, but where do they get their power? Was there only one in the whole world? How were they chosen?

Even more important, who is this "Nameless God" mentioned throughout the book but never given any other thought? You can't offer such a tantalizingly named deity without giving us more. Why is he nameless? Does someone know his name? Do the other cultures pray to the same God? The fact that the Nameless God was mentioned but didn't do anything in the book left me more than a little disappointed.

I would have to say the book's biggest flaw is moralizing, with the overdone symbolism of Sinda going from princess to commoner, and being mistreated by the crown throughout. The idea of royalty not caring for the common man has been done before. Quite a lot, actually, and done very well. In The False Princess, it comes across forced and a little heavy-handed. As a reader, I want a good story, not a lesson in ethics.

All that said, it's a nice book and one that I'd recommend for a light read. Since this is a debut, I hope the author's next work comes out a bit deeper and more polished. ( )
  shellwitte | Dec 11, 2013 |
Meh. This was just ok. It was a fairly predictable fairy tale about a girl raised as the princess who finds that, in fact, she is an ordinary girl. She was switched at birth to protect the real princess from assassination.

There was nothing really wrong or bad about this book. It's an entertaining story that I'm sure many people will love. It just didn't do it for me. I think it was a little predictable, there were too many coincidences and the main character was wishy-washy. ( )
  CherieReads | Sep 23, 2013 |
Nalia has grown up her whole life believing she's the princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor until she is told that she has been a sixteen year stand-in for the real princess who was under threat of a prophecy. Suddenly outcast, she finds herself trying to find her way in a world she is totally unprepared for while still getting used to her actual name, Sinda. Discovering that she has magic within her, Sinda returns to the city and discovers that the plot around the princess is more complex than anyone knows and she may be the only one able to reveal it to the kingdom.

The False Princess is thoroughly enjoyable YA fantasy novel. Sinda is a sympathetic character and one in whom it is easy to become invested as she adjusts to her new status in life and then begins to investigate the plot around the princess. Her best friend, Kiernan, is also quite the charmer and while the developments in their relationship were never a surprise, it was an excellent addition to the novel. The main mystery plot is extremely engaging although not too complex. A fun read that will appeal to fans of the Kristin Cashore's Graceling series. ( )
  MickyFine | Jul 27, 2013 |
The story was very exciting, full of intrigue and emotional hardship. There were a few places in the story that were so intense I had to fling myself through the next few pages to see what was going to happen next. I had a great time with The False Princess! I liked it, for the most part.

Read the rest my review at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog. ( )
  herebebooks | Jul 3, 2013 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
I couldn't choose. For my mother, and all the days in the garden. For my father, who opened the door to Middle Earth and beyond. And for Matt, who, like Kiernan, knew first.
First words
The day they came to tell me, I was in one of the gardens with Kiernan, trying to decipher a three-hundred-year-old map of the palace grounds.
Quotations
No, whispered a tiny voice in my head. Why should they care if a poor man hurts himself or his family with magic he can't control? After all, they were willing to let a weaver's daughter be killed so that the true princess would live. And happy enough to send her packing when they were done with her.
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Book description
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.
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For sixteen years, Nalia has been raised as the princess of Thorvaldor, but one day she learns that her real name is Sinda and that she is part of a complicated plot that would change the future of her country forever.

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