Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review: The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

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. (From Goodreads)

I've been dying to read The False Princess for quite some time. It was originally part of my 2010 Debut Author Challenge, but the release date was moved back. I'm pleased to say it was worth the wait!

O'Neal has crafted a story that is full of adventure, romances, and exciting twists. The characters are compelling, and the setting adds even more to the magic. The book begins with the princess of Thorvaldor, Nalia, discovering that she's actually Sinda, the daughter of a weaver. She was enchanted to look like Nalia to protect the real princess from a prophecy foretelling her murder. Sinda is promptly dispatched from the castle, and the only life she's ever known. I enjoyed watching her grow as a character. When she first arrives in Treb to live with aunt, she's still coming to terms with the idea that she isn't the princess. She is unable to make friends in Treb, and her aunt has a hard time connecting with her. As the book progresses, Sinda becomes more mature, and is determined to make the most of herself. By the end of the book, she's the kind of strong female that is reminiscent of character out of a Tamora Pierce novel (the highest compliment I can give).

The overall plot of the story was so engaging that I had a hard time setting the book down. Incorporating magic in Sinda's story, O'Neal has given the setting a "fairy tale" feel. Without it, we wouldn't have been able to see the wizards' college, and Philantha. The college only accepts nobles, or people who can afford the tuition. Sadly, Sinda has neither the heritage or the funds to attend. I won't spoil more, but I will say that while Philantha is a bit scattered, she doesn't turn her back on Sinda, and I grew to like her character. Finally, the mystery and intrigue of the court was exciting, and there was an oracle. What more could I have asked for?

I didn't give the book five stars because it became clear who the villain was pretty early on in the book, I just wasn't sure of their motive. Despite this knowledge, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and thought that it was an excellent debut. I can't wait for more from O'Neal!

The False Princess
By Eilis O'Neal
Published by Egmont USA
336 Pages
Rating: B+

6 comments:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Sounds perfect :) Thanks for the lovely review :)

Jenny N. said...

I love the premise and can't wait to read it myself.

Julie said...

Great review! I've been hesitant about reading this book but I just might now! I never like when I figure out who the villain is either but the book sounds great!

Lale said...

Anything Tamora Pierce-like is a must read for me. Thanks for the review :)

Emma said...

So glad I read this from you! I got this book from the publisher and am excited to read it now.

Sunny Duvall said...

Yay! I'm so glad it was good. Can't wait to read it :)

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