if the Bible met Harry Potter – this novel would be the result.
Prodigy Prince by Natasha Sapienza is a young adult novel which tells the story of Prince Nuelle, the youngest prince of the Supreme King Nifal of Zephoris. Prodigy Prince is the first novel in Sapienza’s The Seven Covenant series, and is fundamentally a creative and imaginative foray into young adult fantasy. I would honestly describe Prodigy Prince as the lone child of a marriage between the Bible and Harry Potter; it did read like an alternate universe fanfiction.
The creativity of the narrative world itself was immense with a richness that can be quite rare in fantasy YA. It places the main protagonist Nuelle, with his trusty best friend Ave, thrust into a prestigious knight training academy called ‘Knight’s Elect Academy’, and away from the supposed safety of the Palace. Nuelle is the first prince to ever attend the Academy as only ‘prodigies’ of those descended from the original tribe’s from Creation. Although this concept of ‘prodigy sentries’ is not entirely explained in detail, the reader has to assume certain knowledge. I believe the fact that Prodigy Prince is the first in a three-part series (i think), most information concerning the historical context, the cultural setting and the world itself, is not given or it is completely vague.
The essential storyline of this novel centres on Nuelle and his journey to finding out his true destiny for his kingdom. The premise of the Prodigy Prince is creative, although seen in various forms in YA; but the execution of the story itself was were I found myself unengaged with the narrative.
Nuelle’s father, the Supreme King Nifal is the God of this universe. Therefore, he is both ‘good’ and morally ambiguous in the true sense of the Biblical being Himself. I found King Nifal ridiculous and frustrting and very two-dimensional. His omniscience felt lackluster and his behaviour, not quite Kingly. For instance, when King Nifal sent his son Nuelle to the King’s Elect Academy, Nifal told Nuelle to find the Acumen which will give him all the answers to Nuelle’s true purpose. My question: Nifal wrote the Acumen, it’s what I understand to be this world’s ‘Bible’, so why couldn’t he tell his own son about whatever his true purpose was? Also, while I’m discussing the Acumen, it was described as a sacred book and the fact that it was at the King’s Elect Academy for safe-keeping. But it was literally in some sort of classroom or library, on display for everyone to see. Nuelle literally just took it and put it in his bag? Does this mean that only the blood of Nifal can touch it? Or was it magicked somehow for it to be safe? I just found it confusing. Also! There were copies made of the Acumen so that it could be widely read. So why would they need this specific Acumen? Is it because it was the ‘original’? It was not made clear.
Nuelle in the Academy itself was filled with trials and tribulations. Even though the Academy was one of the most safest and secure places in this world, the ‘savage shifters’ (who are demonic in nature) can literally just walk in and out. What kind of Academy does not have security patrolling the grounds? Or a fence? I understand that there was a – spoiler alert – a traitor within the Academy who could have let them in but I found it really difficult to believe. It was not clearly narrated.
That was my issue with Prodigy Prince. There were times when the terminology and the structure of the sentence itself, did not flow. It resulted in the reader being confused and wondering where the characters were, who they were talking to or who they were talking about. It felt that the writing was trying to be more articulate than the story warranted. This also came through with the ‘action’ sequences within the novel that was meant to foward the narrative. It had an adverse effect. The motivations of the ‘villains’ were unclear and completely random. For instance, there was a ‘bronze knight cloaked in black and wearing an elaborate utility belt on his waist’. This was the ex-prince of Ideya’s sentry, Icabod. I’m guessing he was the dark figure that Nuelle saw in the distance on the grounds of the Academy. Icabod then, out of nowhere, waged an attack on the prodigies and tried to kidnap Sophana – who a paragraph before, showed how much of a badass she was by knowing how to use a bow and arrow like a BOSS. But of course, she can easily get pulled and shackled by this random enemy because she is a woman who needs Nuelle and Ave to save her.
Personally, I could not engage with this novel. I found it slow at times and unclear. I was not emotionally invested in the characters – to be honest, I found Nuelle boring as a main character. At one point he ‘lets’ the three girls (Sophana, Surta and Elisena) have the honour to continue to be his sentinels, even though it could be dangerous for them. I cringed. I cringed alot actually. Nuelle’s tears can bring back the dead. It was weird. Him coming into these random powers felt strange at so many instances within the novel because it felt out of place for some reason.
However, if you enjoy YA that has clear boundaires between good and evil, magic and superhero-esque cast of characters; then this would be your type of book! Overall, I rate this book 2 out of 5 stars.
Until next time! Happy reading!
NOTE: I recieved this free copy of Prodigy Prince by the author, Natasha Sapienza, for an accurate and unbiased review.