Saturday, May 20, 2006
Miri is one of the Mount Eskel folk who live high up and far removed from the rest of the world. Her people work in the quarry from dawn til dusk mining the precious linder stone. It is a task that has been theirs for generations. Men and women and children work side by side by side, coaxing the stone from the earth. Miri is the exception. In a village filled with large and strong people, she is small and frail. All her friends work in the quarry, speaking to each other through the magical quarry speak and Miri must tend the goats and keep the house because her father won't let her work beside him. There is nothing in the world that Miri wants more than to work in the quarry.
Miri's life is about to change, as are the lives of many of the village girls. The priests of the king have divined that the future bride of the prince is to be from Mount Eskel! These are girls that sleep with their goats and work in the quarry...they need to be groomed. They are all sent down the mountain to the Princess Academy to be taught by lowlander Olana. Soon a competition is in the works with the girls vying not only for the princes hand, but for the title of "Academy Princess". Eventhough Miri is only 14 years old, she finds herself rising quickly above the older girls in terms of reading and history, poise and conversation. Does she really want to leave her family and live in the lowlands? Would she like to marry an unknown prince, when the only boy she ever thinks about is her friend Peder?
Throw in some twists of magical telepathy and raiding bandits, and Shannon Hale has penned quite the story. I have to admit, this story started off slowly for me, but by mid-book I was completely hooked! This is another middle grade fiction title that I will be buying and saving for my daughters!