When a beautiful princess refuses to marry the prince her father has chosen, her father is furious. So furious he locks her in a tower. She has seven long years of solitude to think about her insolence. But the princess is not entirely alone - she can take her maid, Dashti. Petulant and spoilt, the princess eats the food in their meagre store as ...
When a beautiful princess refuses to marry the prince her father has chosen, her father is furious. So furious he locks her in a tower. She has seven long years of solitude to think about her insolence. But the princess is not entirely alone - she can take her maid, Dashti. Petulant and spoilt, the princess eats the food in their meagre store as if she were still at court, and Dashti soon realizes they must either escape or slowly starve. But during their captivity, clever and resourceful Dashti discovers that there is something far more sinister behind her princesses fears of marrying of the prince, and when, finally, they do break free from the tower, they find a land laid to waste and the kingdom destroyed.They were safe in the tower, now they are at the mercy of the evil prince. But this maid is a force to be reckoned with. Thrilling, captivating, and a masterful example of storytelling at its best. The princess' maid is a feisty and thoroughly modern heroine, in this wonderfully timeless story.
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This is the third Shannon Hale novel I've read, and I really liked it. It is the retelling of the little-known Grimm tale "Maid Maleen." The thing which made it unusual and interesting to me was the setting: a fairy-tale version of ancient Mongolia. All of the set pieces (costumes, landscape, etc.) are realistically drawn, with just a dash of magic thrown in.
Dashti is a likably human heroine, with her plucky resolve and her evolving world-view. She is loyal, honest, kind, brave, and practical, with a silly sense of humor, but she is also fallible and breakable. Her childhood living in a gher on the steppes, and learning the healing songs from her mother, is told in snapshot flashbacks. It adds layers to the framework for her present-day circumstances, informing her actions and decisions. I really enjoyed reading her adventures. This would make a very interesting and colorful film, and I think it could do well in that medium.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-09-24 Hale (River Secrets) delivers another winning fantasy, this time inventively fleshing out the obscure Grimm tale, Maid Maleen, through the expressive and earthy voice of Dashti, maid to Lady Saren. A plucky and resourceful orphan, Dashti comes from a nomad tribe in a place resembling the Asian Steppes, and is brought to the Lady's house in the midst of a crisis. Lady Saren, having refused to marry the powerful but loathsome Lord her father has chosen, faces seven years' imprisonment in an unlit tower. Initially, Dashti believes her worth is tied to her ability to care for her "tower-addled" lady until she can join Khan Tegus, to whom she is secretly betrothed. When the gentle Tegus comes to the tower, Dashti must step in for her traumatized lady, speaking to him as Saren through the one tiny metal door. Hale exploits the diary form to convey Dashti's perspective; despite her self-effacing declaration that "I draw this from memory so it won't be right," the entries reflect her genuinely spirited inner life. The tension between her unstinting loyalty and patience and burgeoning realization of her own strength and feelings for Tegus feels especially authentic. Readers will be riveted as Dashti and Saren escape and flee to the Khan's realm where, through a series of deceptions, contrivances and a riotously triumphant climax, the tale spins out to a thoroughly satisfying ending. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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