"Try not to embarrass us," my brother says. "If you can."
–Thorn - Intisar Khanani - c.2012
A retelling of The Goose Girl story.
Princess Alyrra has not has a happy life. Growing up in fear of her brother and trying to stay on her mother’s good side. But when the king of the much more powerful land comes to visit she finds herself thrust into a powerplay. She is to marry into a family where people seem to die very frequently. Is that because of her future husband and his father? On the journey to her new home she is betrayed by her waiting lady and finds herself a serving maid rather than a princess.
But this is a fate that might just have some positives for Alyrra, or Thoreena as she renames herself after a wild rose. Now she doesn’t have to worry about her brother, or court politics, or whether her betrothed might be a murderer. She has a job as a goose girl, she makes some friends among the stable hands, and she has some money. But can she abandon her duty and the prince who might be in danger?
Okay, as you may have guessed I’m really enjoying Intisar Khanani’s work. Yay for the Diverse Universe tour and new awesome authors.
I really should have read this book a year ago, as it was most favourably compared to Robin McKinley and everyone agrees1 that McKinley is awesome. Well, Khanani is too. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of her work that I’ve read. I can’t wait til her next one.
What I enjoy most is that there is real emotion and heart to her characters. Thorn is flawed, but she tries so hard to do what is right without getting overly involved. Why should she have to put herself at risk for things that are outside her control? Plus she has a talking horse. Show Spoiler ▼
And I loved the world that Thorn lived in. It was so real. Not perfect, far from it in fact, especially if you are poor2 but it is real. I really do hope that her other books are also set in the same ‘verse, it reads to me like they could be.
And I loved her relationship with the prince. She doesn’t really know him, but she’ll still marry him, she has to in a way, but she also chooses to. She knows what the world has to offer, and she can see the possibilities there, she isn’t going to fool herself and pretend that everything will be happily ever after, but she isn’t going to discount that either.
The one issue I had with the book was the end. It came too soon! and too suddenly. And there was so much more I wanted to know, about where Falada came from, and how he kept on talking to her. I know magic explains a lot away, but I still wanted to know a little more. But then again, I’d probably give out3 if everything had ended tied up in a nice neat bow! But I do wish there was just a tad more to the ending.