I have to say that I didn't much like Sage when the story began. I thought he was too arrogant and too sure that he was smarter than everyone around him. He was an orphan boy but he wasn't at all downtrodden. He was an accomplished pickpocket, thief and general rogue. I grew to like him much more as the story progressed because I saw that along with the arrogance he had a good heart and wanted the best for his country.When he was sold by the woman in charge of the orphanage where he lived, he finally met someone who had the power of life and death over him. Conner was a noblemen and one of twenty regents of the country of Carthya. Conner was looking for an orphan boy that he could mold into a false prince to take over the kingdom and be his puppet king. Conner was unhappy with the rule of the current king because he felt that he was leaving the country vulnerable to attack from neighboring rival countries. Sage was just one of the boys he picked up. He also picked up Roden, Tobias, and Latamer. When Latamer says that he isn't interested in Conner's plot, Conner kills him which really convinces Sage that he is serious and dangerous. He becomes convinced that only one of the boys will live through the experience of becoming the false prince and is determined that it will be him. But he has no intention of being Conner's puppet king.The boys are taken to Conner's estate where they are educated and tested so that Conner can determine which of the boys will be most able to take the role of the lost Prince Jaron. Conner has two servants who are in on his plan - Mott and Cregan. Mott is loyal to Conner because he believes that his plan is best for the country. Cregan is loyal because he wants what Conner has promised but he is also a cruel bully. Sage goes along with the program but doesn't bend to Conner's will despite beatings, imprisonment, and starvation. He is constantly sneaking out of his room and exploring the estate. He befriends a mute kitchen girl who helps him and who has a secret of her own. He also learns about the other boys even though they are all rivals for the same position. And he learns about Conner's plot and what he will do and has already done to make things turn out the way he plans.The story is filled with intrigue, adventure, and danger. There are many twists and turns and some surprising revelations. I think that the story is complete as it stands but am still looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. Readers who like adventure and intrigue will enjoy this one.