7 Great Fantasy Books With Princes as Main Characters


Whether it’s out of a fascination with royalty, political intrigue or something else, princes capture the imaginations of people of all ages.

It’s not unusual to see them in fantasy novels aimed at children, but what about those aimed at adults? Well, if you’re on the lookout for such a story, you’re in luck.

Here are 7 great fantasy books with princes to read:

I’ve included book descriptions, readers’ ratings and summaries of positive and negative comments for each one of the books in this list below.

But if you’d prefer a quick summary, here’s a comparison chart.


Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Description

Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself – all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.98

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

First on our list of fantasy books with princes is Half a King. Readers who praised this novel reported enthusiastically that it had Joe Abercrombie’s penchant for gritty, dark and even grim settings.

While Half a King targets young adults, these readers had read Abercrombie’s adult-targeted fantasy books. They were pleased that this book still had what they enjoyed about his world-building. They also mentioned that while the story is a grim and fast-paced survival tale, it never made them feel bleak or overwhelmed.

Another highlight they mentioned was the characters. From the main character, Yarvi, to the rest of the cast, each added to the story in their own way. Several fans mentioned that the genuine friendship between the characters was particularly moving for them.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t connect with the story, they often said it was because they found it overly familiar. Half a King struck these readers as a standard revenge story in both plot and character cast.

They appreciated that Yarvi was an intelligent and cunning version of the avenging hero rather than the typical warrior archetype. However, they mentioned that they’d seen this particular twist used in previous stories as well.


The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Description

Book cover of The Ruin of Kings

There are the old stories. And then there’s what actually happens.

Kihrin is a bastard orphan who grew up on storybook tales of long-lost princes and grand quests.

When he is claimed against his will as the long-lost son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds that being a long-lost prince isn’t what the storybooks promised. Far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family’s power plays and ambitions.

He also discovers that the storybooks have lied about a lot of other things things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love, and how the hero always wins.Then again, maybe he’s not the hero, for Kihrin isn’t destined to save the empire.

He’s destined to destroy it . . .

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.83

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Second on our list of fantasy books with princes is The Ruin of Kings. With an expansive scope and a world brimming with history, politics and mythology, this YA epic fantasy struck fans as spectacularly engaging. All of this world-building, they said, was done effortlessly and without an onslaught of information.

Negative Comments 

On the other hand, readers who didn’t think The Ruin of Kings was for them said that the story’s non-linear chronological structure made it confusing.

Others said that having the story told from these multiple time periods made it difficult for the character development to come across as organic. In each them, Kihrin sounded like a completely different character.


Dragon Bones by Patricia Briggs

Description

Most everyone thinks Ward of Hurog is a simple-minded fool — and that’s just fine by him. But few people know that his foolishness is (very convincingly) feigned. And that it’s the only thing that’s saved him from death.

When his abusive father dies, Ward becomes the new lord of Hurog…until a nobleman declares that he is too dim-witted to rule. Ward knows he cannot play the fool any longer. To regain his kingdom, he must prove himself worthy — and quickly.

Riding into a war that’s heating up on the border, Ward is sure he’s on the fast track to glory. But soon his mission takes a deadly serious turn. For he has seen a pile of magical dragon bones hidden deep beneath Hurog Keep.

The bones can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and Ward is certain his enemies will stop at nothing to possess them…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.06

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with princes is Dragon Bones. 

Whether it was main characters or supporting ones, this story’s delightful and likable characters captivated readers. Fans said that all of the characters came across as unique and had their own charming traits.

In particular, several of them mentioned that Ward, the protagonist, impressed them with his righteousness in the face of his dark circumstances. Oreg, on the other hand, interested and entertained them with his wit.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Dragon Bones though, what did they say? These critics generally said that while the book started off well, it began to meander and lose focus as it progressed.

They found themselves encountering moments in the book where they didn’t understand how it tied into the overall story. Because of this, these readers eventually found the book confusing and slow.

Others said that they didn’t connect strongly enough to the protagonist, Ward. Some explained that they expected him to experience more emotionally. When he didn’t, he came across to them as unconvincing.


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Description

Book cover of Throne of Glass

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating.

But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead…quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.22

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list that features a prince as a main character is Throne of Glass. What did readers who loved this novel say? Fans came in expecting a Young Adult fantasy book alive with lighthearted adventure. They weren’t disappointed.

Many enthused about the story’s wonderful humor, romance and action. These fans characterized Throne of Glass as an exciting tale that delighted them with its formidable, highly-skilled assassin protagonist.

Negative Comments

Throne of Glass readers who expected a darker and serious take on the premise, though, didn’t enjoy the story. According to the author, the book’s inspiration was Cinderella and the story’s light take on being an assassin and its romance reflects these roots.

In particular, these readers disliked the fact that Celaena’s brutal past as a slave at the start of the novel didn’t seem to effect her significantly. They also mentioned that the trials and battles weren’t enough of a focus, with several skipped rather than shown through action.


The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Description

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince.

Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.22

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with princes is The False Prince. This novel brings us Sage, a character with sharp wit, powerful observation skills, but also sympathetic flaws. 

Fans found immersing themselves in his point of view a treat, enthusing over how much fun it was to anticipate how he would react, what he’d pick up and to laugh at his snarky humor. These readers rooted for him the entire time, saying that even as they enjoyed his brilliance, it was his humanity and vulnerabilities that endeared him to them. 

Overall, fans described this book as filled with intrigue and adventure, with wit as well as heart.

Negative Comments

For the most part, critics had two reasons why they didn’t enjoy The False Prince.

The first was the plot twist. Critics typically saw it coming early on in the story and, because of this, felt that the book was predictable.

Related to this, some critics added that in order to hide the plot twist, the book had to conceal crucial information about Sage. However, because the story was told in first person, the concealment came across as artificial: thoughts and emotions they expected him to have weren’t there. As such, these readers felt disconnected from him.


The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Description

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Books Cover of The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation — or so she’s been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm.

It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother’s visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane.

But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission — and her life.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.91

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

The Burning Sky is another story on our list of fantasy books with princes. Readers said that this fantasy novel takes a variety of beloved Young Adult fantasy tropes and blends them together for an entirely unique and exciting experience.

The story world features elemental powers, mythological creatures and elite boarding school drama.

As for the romance, The Burning Sky pairs the powerful mage protagonist, Iolanthe, with the agenda-driven Prince Titus. Readers frequently remarked that Iolanthe delighted them with her backbone, but also through her cleverness and back-and-forth banter with Titus. She adapts well to her difficult circumstances and refuses to self-pity.

In the past, YA fantasy readers have voiced their frustrations with protagonists who let their romantic feelings cloud their judgement – especially when something as serious as the fate of a kingdom is at stake.

Because of this, readers often made a point of saying that both Iolanthe and Titus didn’t follow this pattern. While their attraction grew, they didn’t let it derail them from their greater missions.

Negative Comments

What did readers who didn’t enjoy The Burning Sky say?

Generally, readers expressed similar sentiments: they disliked both Iolanthe and Titus as characters. Because of this, they couldn’t get invested in their romance.

Why was this? Well, critics of The Burning Sky characterized Iolanthe as a Mary Sue: a character so perfect at all she does and in her attributes that it’s unbelievable.

These readers said that Iolanthe’s ‘Chosen One’ status defined her. She was strong in the sense of being highly competent. However, she didn’t have dreams, hopes or fears of her own that were unrelated to her foretold destiny.

As for Titus, critics said that ultimately, he bothered them as a romantic prospect. He’s set up as a good person who only feigns a spoiled and manipulative persona.

However, these readers said that after a while, this didn’t seem like a mask. Instead, it seemed like his true face. As such, they thought that the story used the characters’ physical attraction to each other to avoid addressing important relational issues.


Firstborn by Tonya C. Cook and Paul B. Thompson

Description

When the leader of the Silvanesti elves dies, conflict threatens to drive his sons apart.

While Sithas wishes the elves to withdraw more and more from any contact with other races, Kith-Kanan and his Wildrunners forge connections and trade goods with the humans of Ergoth.

As the world of Krynn watches, a new elven nation rises from the strife.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.87

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

And the final entry on our list of fantasy books with princes is Firstborn. This story struck readers as classic fantasy done right. It’s a character-driven tale that centers around two elven princes, and delighted readers with its rich portrayal of elves.

Fans praised the story’s world as well as its well-developed characters. Through an intriguing ‘fish out of water’ setup, Firstborn treated them to both ancient, mythic elven kingdoms as well as classic, nature-loving elven societies.

Along a similar vein, readers also enjoyed the story’s themes – brotherhood, intrigue, war – and the characters that delivered them. Fans found the cast, their development, bond and clashes both thematically and personally gripping.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Firstborn, what did they say?

Typically, critics were those who expected a more plot-driven tale. When the story turned out to be character-driven, the story struck them as slow.

However, other readers said that portions of the story struck them as over-dramatic instead of emotionally captivating. Reading between the lines, it sounds like these critics may have felt this way because story’s plot seemed standard to them. Since the plot was predictable, the events made less of an emotional impression.


7 Great Fantasy Books With Princes as Main Characters

How Do These Fantasy Novels Compare?



7 Great Fantasy Books With Princes as Main Characters


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