Thursday, September 23, 2010

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal - Review by Rissa

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.

It's pretty common knowledge among my friends and family that I'm a sucker for anything relating to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the like. In fact, I would spend every day at Medieval Times if that were humanely/financially possible (if you've never heard of Medieval Times, go ask our Supreme Overload Google it, you will not be disappointed, it's pretty awesome), but I digress. I was searching on GoodReads one day (see: and I came across this book by Ms. Eilis O'Neal. The summary alone had me sold, so I contacted her and she was kind enough to send me a copy. The book is set for release on January 25, 2011, so if you like what you read in this review I heartily encourage you to go over to Amazon and preorder yourself a copy!


In recent months I have discovered that it is becoming more and more difficult to find a book that isn't centered around cliché creatures or weak, whiny, heroines who cannot carry themselves through one chapter without falling to pieces. This is absolutely not the case with Nalia, or should I say, Sinda, the main character who is forced from her home by a cruel twist in fate, and left to make her own way in an unknown world. The world Ms. O'Neal creates is also a refreshing change, it has been a long time since I've been drawn into such a setting, rich with with royalty, castles, magic, sorcerers, and an evil that must not triumph.


The cover is a beautiful interpretation of our protagonist, Sinda. The necklace around her neck seems to portray the girl she was, or rather, the girl she thought she was. It is alluring and elegant, and it immediately draws the reader into the story.


(NOTE; because I don't want to give away too much of the plot, I will only be going into detail on a few characters who I feel I can safely describe without saying more than I should.)

The characters in THE FALSE PRINCESS are strong and multi-dimensional. They can definitely tell a story; they can make you love them, and they can make you hate them. Sinda is a strong girl, but even she cannot fight what has happened to her. When she is told the truth of her family and forced out of the castle, she experiences shock and an unfamiliar weakness. It is not until later when she is betrayed by a "friend," that she realizes that she has to be able to confront her problems ("Fool me one, shame on you-- Fool me twice, shame on me.").
Now, for Tyr. My gosh, I sometimes can't believe what a complete rollar coaster ride that boy put me through. I don't want to give anything away, but reader; be ready to feel Sinda's emotions right along with her-- the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Kiernan, on the other hand, is a definite favorite of mine. He is a funny, strong character who is not willing to give up his friendship (or is it more?) with Sinda simply because of the events unfolding. I loved his flirty nature, as well as the frequent references to how he drives his family insane with his antics.


When a girl finds out that the royal life she has been living is all a lie, how is she supposed to react? Most people would not be faced with this dilemma, but the same cannot be said for Princess Nalia of Thorvaldor. Due to a plot threatening the true princess' life, she is adopted as a stand in. On her 16th birthday she is sent away to an aunt she doesn't know; to a life she doesn't belong in. Sinda, which, she learns, is her new name, finds herself in the midst of a conflict, should she accept her fate or should she fight back? After all, 16 years is a long time to live a lie. She makes her decision, and an entirely new adventure opens up.
Again, I cannot give too much away, but let me say this of the rest of the plot; the villains are devious, you WILL be surprised, and if you can keep track of all of their schemes (and princesses) then you are a better girl than I. O'Neal did a wonderful job with a detailed conflict and I found myself having to reread some parts over to fully understand the complexity of the situation (but in an entirely good way, I found myself unraveling the story with Sinda, and enjoying every part of it.)
The only note I will make in respect to the plot is relating to the story of Sinda's family. I understand that they were not a major theme in the story, but when reading the section dedicated to their background, I felt like it went a little fast. It was not a major detail, but I would have liked more of an explanation about the people who shape Sinda's background.


Without giving away any detail, I will say that the ending of the story will have the reader on the edge of his or her seat, wondering what will happen to Sinda and the other characters as they fight to reveal the truth behind the scheming villains. Sinda will also have to decide her fate, and also take into consideration the direction in which her heart pulls her. If you like medieval stories of royally, romance, and mystery, this is one you will not be able to put down.

I wholeheartedly give this book a rating of ♥♥♥♥♥, it was a pleasure to read, and I hope you add it to your watch list-- remember, January 25, 2011!!

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