When Alanna first sees Jonathan in the palace, he walks in some other pages, so there's not necessarily anything to set him apart from the rest…except that there kind of is. Unlike his companions, he "seemed to be about a year younger and much more commanding" (2.47). Well, yeah. As the only son of King Roald and Queen Lianne of Tortall, we're guessing that Jonathan has been prepared to lead his whole life. So let's take a closer look at Prinny:
"He was about three years older than she was, with coal-black hair and sapphire-colored eyes. His nose was straight and slightly hooked. His face was stern, but a smile touched his mouth, and a glimmer of fun slipped from his eyes." (2.60)
Hey sexy royal! We predict that this kid is going to grow up to be a real looker. But he doesn't just have good bone structure on his side; he's also at ease in court life the way a fish is at ease in water. Example: when Ralon is picking on "Alan," Jonathan urges the other pages not to interfere, saying: "He'd be ashamed if he thought we were fighting his battles" (3.116). Way to internalize the code of chivalry, kid!
He's aware that there's more to ruling than sitting on a throne, though. His friendship with George lets him masquerade in the lower city as "Johnny," a rich merchant's son, so that he can learn about the poor and the thieves among his subjects. And when he goes to Persopolis, he wants to learn more about the Bazhir because they, too, will someday be his subjects.
Sounds like this one has his priorities straight.
Despite his courtly background, Jonathan isn't stuck up. As he tells Alanna early on, "my friends call me Jonathan, or Jon" (3.239), and he wants her to do the same. As they become friends, they begin to study together and hang out: "Many evenings after that they could be found in each other's room, their heads bent over a map or a piece of paper" (4.7).
When Alanna saves Jonathan from the Sweating Fever, he doesn't forget it. He asks Duke Gareth for special permission to bring "Alan" on the trip to Persopolis, explaining that he wants Alan to come: "Because he's my friend. Because I always know where he stands, and where I stand with him. Because I think he'd die for me, and—I think I'd die for him" (6.303). We've got to hand it to Jon: this is one king-to-be who really appreciates a friendship. Even after Jon learns Alanna's secret, he accepts her. "As far as I'm concerned," he says, "you earned the right to try for your shield a long time ago" (7.220).
But can Jon can take that trust a little too far? While Alanna suspects that Jon's uncle, Duke Roger, deliberately told him about the Black City in an effort to send the boy to his death (guess who's next in line for the throne? Roger!), Jon refuses to believe it. Instead, Jon tells Alanna: "He sent me here because he thought I might have a chance to rid Tortall of a scourge…He did Tortall a favor, and he did me a favor. People will think twice before they take on a prince—or a king—who can defeat demons" (7.250).
Uh, we're pro-family and all, but really? We're definitely siding with Alanna on this one. Jon will have to learn to think a bit more critically about people's motivations.