I seem to be reading books based only on their covers or authors and before actually reading their descriptions. This was one of those books. I loved the Books of Bayern series (see Goose Girl etc. etc. etc.) and I was intrigued by the title, thinking that it might be an Arabian-nights type of tale (I was mistaken, it is not). It was a great read, however!
Loosely based on a Grimm tale that I haven’t read myself (the tale of Maid Maleen), this is a story about loyalty and love.
Dashti is a Mucker, and comes from the steppes where she and her family lived off the land and their animals. This book is a record of her tale, written as a journal. Dashti becomes a lady’s maid, and pledges her loyalty to Lady Saren. Saren, as her father’s youngest daughter, has been pledged in betrothal to a man she does not love. With her refusal, Lady Saren and Dashti are locked in a tower, to be kept for seven years in exile.
Imprisoned in the tower with her limpid, weepy and clearly depressed mistress, Dashti struggles to look on the bright side.
When she and Saren finally escape, they discover that the outside world is much changed. These two girls are bound together by loyalty, lies, and life. Together, they can weather the storm.
- Dashti is a fantastic character. Optimistic (for the most part), strong-willed, caring, and loyal she remains true to herself and her believes and I admire her for it. I also admire her patience, particularly with Saren.
- Saren grew on me – slowly. Initially I had little use for her simpering and silliness, but gradually I was less annoyed by her displays and more sympathetic. I love how Saren finds her own feet to stand on at the end, yet remains true to her character.
- Khan Tegus is the love interest in this story (since there obviously needs to be a love interest). I like that he seems like a real person.
- Lord Khasar is the antagonist – a loud, terrifying, evil man. Bad to the bone, one might say.
- Moved along at a good pace, despite the years it spans.
- Slotted little bits of magic and folklore in, weaving it pretty well and giving you subtle hints of the flashier bits to come.
- Is clearly intended for a middle-ages / young adult audience, so is not super sophisticated. It’s sweet but still deals with some nice themes (like loyalty, friendship, and courage).
I would definitely recommend giving this one a try! 4/5