When Lady Saren defies her father's command to marry the vicious Lord Khasar, she is sealed in a tower with only her serving maid, Dashti, for company. In their cramped, dark space Dashti pours her thoughts into a daily journal while pitiless solitude engulfs them. At first Dashti is optimistic: they have food aplenty, candles for light, and even ...
When Lady Saren defies her father's command to marry the vicious Lord Khasar, she is sealed in a tower with only her serving maid, Dashti, for company. In their cramped, dark space Dashti pours her thoughts into a daily journal while pitiless solitude engulfs them. At first Dashti is optimistic: they have food aplenty, candles for light, and even a visit from Lady Saren's true love, Khan Tegus--though he can only call to them from outside their walls. But Saren is ill of mind, the outside world is changing, and their circumstances soon grow desperate. And even if they do escape, they must still face the eerie malice of Lord Khasar. To survive, Dashti and Saren forge a bond of devotion and deception that will test them to their limits. Once again Shannon Hale, author of the Newbery Honor Book "Princess Academy," weaves an enchanting and original fantasy that will catch and hold listeners breathless in its spell.
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
Alibris, the Alibris logo, and Alibris.com are registered trademarks of Alibris, Inc.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.