Adventure Contest Winner: Suhani Balachandran

 As the plot of “The False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielson unfolds, the reader meets a boy who transforms in ways one could never have imagined, all to save the fantasy nation of Carthya.

When Sage is first introduced, he is portrayed as a rebellious and quick-witted Avenian teenager living in a Carthyan orphanage and stealing food off the street. While reading, I often found myself begging Sage to say the right statement and suppress his tongue for a moment, yet that was almost never the case. His defiant spirit really defined him for a majority of the book, whether he was roaming the secret passageways throughout the nobleman Conner’s estate or simply refusing to give Conner the imitator’s gold and not acquiescing even after two days spent in the dungeon. As Sage said himself when referring to his “bad manners and defiant nature,” “If you weed those out, then there’s nothing left of me.” However, when the truth about Sage is revealed towards the end of the book, the reader views Sage in a whole new light. Sage the Avenian orphan becomes Jaron the lost Carthyan prince. Immediately, Sage matures in the reader’s mind and occupies a more regal role. When Sage, or rather, Jaron arrives at the castle, he has a fully formulated plan and takes command of every situation from that moment on. He changes completely from a troublemaking boy to an impressive and authoritative king and man.

Even though the reader’s view of Jaron is altered, that Jaron was always there, buried under Sage. Jaron sacrificed everything for the security of Carthya: his luxurious life, his social status, the ability to see and communicate with his family, and most of all, his identity. He dyed his hair, hunched his shoulders, changed his name, and lied all to hide who he really was. Giving up so much for one’s country exhibits an incredible amount of loyalty, bravery, and selflessness. Delving deeper and deeper into this page-turner really made me stop and ponder about what would happen if everyone could show even a fraction of Jaron’s selflessness. The face of the world would be changed forever if everyone helped each other, and crime, hunger, inequality, and many other issues that plague humanity would be effaced from the surface of the planet.

I have come to accept that this may never happen. There will always be evil in the world, but there also will always be good to combat it. If I cannot change the rest of the population, at least I can start changing myself. Sacrificing what I have in small ways such as giving up my time to tutor younger kids, donating cans of soup to a food bank, or buying toys for underprivileged children during the holidays is the least that I can do to contribute to this vast world and make someone smile. I know no one can ever be as unselfish as Jaron, giving up who he really was for his nation, but I also know that if many people give up just a bit, we will certainly make a big impact on the world.

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