Publisher: YA Angst (July 1, 2008)
Okay, so I admit this wasn’t much of a challenge for me to read, since this is the kind of stuff I lap up with a spoon. I mean c’mon, prince and princesses, castles…magic diamonds. Now, wait! Don’t run, this isn’t a cheesy version of Princess Diaries 2 (although, if you must know I liked that fluff film.) This is an adventurous take on some prince and princess clichés.
Up until now I had only read Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel, but that was enough to cement her into my list of favorite authors. What I love about her, is that although I’m indulged with all my favorite elements in fiction, I’m still confronted with practical girls, who although wish for romance, know the duties they must face to protect things in life that are bigger than themselves.
Enter Rhis, princess of the small kingdom of Nym known for its mountains and gems. It’s such a small kingdom they don’t hold court or do that many social activities. She loves to spend her time in her tower playing her tiranthe and writing ballads. She feels no pressure to apply herself in her studies as she is not the heir, and will not grow up to be a royal mage like her sister. Before applying herself she wants to undergo an adventure and a bit of romance. Well lucky for her Queen Briath from a neighboring kingdom has invited all the eligible princesses to her son Lios coming of age party. So Rhis gets a chance to practice courtly behavior as well as be an ambassador for her own kingdom.
Income all the princesses who have hopes of snagging the prince and a series of parties, picnics, dances and all sorts of fun. Rhis finds herself making friends with such interesting characters. There is Taniva of the High Plains whose idea of fun is fighting with her neighboring enemy Jarvas of Damatras.Then there is Shera from Gensam who can’t help but flirt with every boy she sees. Yuzhyu of the Isle of Ndai who is sort of left out of everything despite being the princes cousin, and the mysterious and charming Dandiar the princes personal scribe. The characters are really fleshed out, and the ones we end up hating we find out the reason they became that way.
But when Iardith the most beautiful princess (albeit also the most ill-mannered princess), who the girls can’t help but dislike ends up being abducted the girls set out to bring her back. This is definitely a girl power sort of book, because although the girls all want the prince they discover more important things like friendship and self worth. That no one can really be overlooked, because everyone has value. And that falling in love isn’t just about looks, but heart and mind.
I know the cover is sort of cheesy, but don’t let that get in the way. Sherwood Smith makes awesome characters that are practical when necessary but always fun.