Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on June 16th, 2005
Number of Pages: 314
Genres: Classics, Fantasy, Young Adult
Purchase: At Amazon
Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.
This is written for children, but is just as interesting to read as an adult. It isn’t dumbed down, or boring. The storyline is perfectly paced, fairytale like but also has many elements of real-world issues like having to mine to afford to feed your family. Learning what is most important in life to the characters, thoughts and dreams. The ending of the story is realistic, and wraps up most of the book. But at the same time, leaves just enough of a tail for you to wonder about what will happen in the next book.
It touches on education, kindness, diplomacy, helping others even when they have been rude or mean to you. Bits of quarry-songs are at the top of each chapter, which was a nice touch.
Olana was a good ‘evil’ character, within only a few pages her character was apparent enough that I was hoping she would get what was coming to her. And at the same time, I could also see a little why she might be acting the way she was.
Miri was strong-willed and stubborn, but also funny and smart. She loved her parents and their village, while being curious about the world outside of it that she knew almost nothing about. I really liked reading about the characters and will be picking up the next in the series.