fun adventure Oct 1, 2009
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.