Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Enjoyment Rating: ****
This book would be rated: PG
The Runaway King begins where The False Prince leaves off, with Jaron burying his parents and taking over as king of Carthya. He's made so many enemies (not to mention all of the enemies his father had who have now transferred their hatred to Jaron) that he soon recognizes that his experience as king will be untenable unless he fixes a few things. The problem is that he can't fix these things and serve as king. So he has a friend impersonate him (seems to be a recurring theme), and runs away to join the pirates, hoping to challenge (and prevail against) the pirate king.
The Runaway King is just as well written, and Jaron is just as cunning as he was in The False Prince. Furthermore, the book doesn't have middle book syndrome. Nielsen manages to give us a decent backstory on from the first novel without weighing down this narrative, and although the book is part of a trilogy, it has its own satisfying conclusion. What it lacks is the plot twist that made The False Prince so great. I think it's a solid story, but lacks the sparkle of its predecessor.