Let s see if I ll be able to give a concise review without confusing people This story is loosely based on an obscure Grimm fairy tale Hale mentions which one it is at the end of the book The premise is that Lady Saren will be locked up in a tower for seven years because she will not marry Lord Khashar Lady Saren takes Dashti who oddly doesn t mind this arrangement She comes from a harsh background and the guarantee of having food for seven straight years while serving someone of royal blood It seems like the gods have smiled upon her Things start to look not so rosy any though, and Dashti and Lady Saren will be caught in a web of lies that will lead to an adventure neither of them could have seen coming.
The strongest point of the book for me was the character of Dashti She is resilient, funny, caring, and loyal to a fault The refreshing aspect about her is that she is definitely not your typical flawlessly pretty character It s her spirit that brings forth her beauty, and that may sound cheesy but it s true Like any other character she has her shortfalls, but comes to realize how stunted her view of things was The author does an excellent job of weaving in the Mongolian setting and customs so the reader feels as if this is a real place Since this is written in journal form we really get the mood Dashti s in and the progression of her and Saren s growth Throughout we see some illustrations that aid in the storytelling I imagine this would be a great story to read out loud I LOVED Khan Tegus, and that s all I have to say about him because anything else I would say wouldn t even come close to describing his wonderfulness Shannon Hale has permanently become one of my favorite authors, she was already but now she is cemented, written in black sharpie, engraved permanent Hale isthan an author, she is a bona fide storyteller.
I will have to retire from this review before I totally botch it up, but I want to conclude that the characters are lovely, the story enchanting, and displays the power of the written word.
A nice, easy to read book It offers some interesting images about the Mongolian steeps The story is sweet and simple A few twists here and there make it interesting enough to keep reading and it has a satisfying ending, even if not surprising.
I think Shannon Hale manages to create a really charming world by mixing a well known fairy tale with an unexplored setting I really loved the voice of the main character as it comes through as much when she tells us about her everyday life as when she recounts the terrible and great events happening once they re prisoners inside the tower.
I do like young heroines who manage to save themselves and those they love without turning into kick assing caricatures but by preserving discovering who they really are and using that to move forward.
All in all a lovely story that was very well told.
So, so, so good As I got towards the end I was planning on giving it 4 stars, but then at the very end it surprised me and it was like the book was about something completely other than what I d been thinking it was about the whole time It surprised me, and I love well executed surprises Thus 5 stars Not that there was a surprise ending I don t like those , just that there was a reframing that totally delighted me I ll sayabout it down below if you want, but I ll put them beneath spoiler alerts to come later.
Anyways This is a retelling of a Grimm fairly tale If you ve read any of the original Grimm stories, you know they re fairly brutish and cold Here, the author she doesn t reinvent the archetype, she stays very true to the genre, but she reshapes it and totally give it wings Can I say breathes new life into it without sounding totally cheesy Because that s pretty much what s happening here For me she made the Grimm style of fairy tale wondrous and fun again, like they must have been when people first started hearing them, hundreds of years before Disney came along and ruined fairy tales for everyone, forever.
I was worried, on the first page, that this book would suffer from the nondescript slightly awkward person from foreign land voice that afflicts a lot of books in this genre, but that was totally not the case By about page 5 I was totally on board with no worries or qualms.
I don t know what else to say about it, except that I flew through it, and was totally stealing every moment I could to find out what happens next possible spoilers belowseriouslyOK It s not just about what happens when you get locked in a tower for 7 years, and what happens after, and the relationship between the servant and the maid It s about books And writing And the power of writing And even though it ends with a wedding to a prince khan or whatever, which is so not my scene, it was all enchanting and amazing.
Oh gosh, I m going to be obsessed with Shannon Hale now, aren t I
July 30 31, 2009Ummm So I started this book at 2 00 am Note to self don t start books at 2 00 am Are you crazy Yeah, I couldn t put it down I finished at about 7 00 Then my husband woke me up at noon How rude Doesn t he realize that reading makes me nocturnal Anyway, I started the book, and was like, Why is this written from the lady s maid s point of view and not from the lady s point of view Yeah, that becomes very clear within just a few pages I really loved Dashti she was such a fascinating character I loved the world that Shannon Hale created for this book The acknowledgments at the back say that it s based on Mongolian history hence the usage of khan , which is just fascinating to me I ve always wanted to go to Mongolia I don t know why shrugs The belief system in the book was so interesting, and the bad guy was SERIOUSLY FRIGHTENING EEK He was freaking me out But good conquers evil it IS based on a fairy tale, after all as it always will eventually Loved it It was fabulous 4.
5 stars, at least, which rounds up.
When Dashti, A Maid, And Lady Saren, Her Mistress, Are Shut In A Tower For Seven Years Because Of Saren S Refusal To Marry A Man She Despises, The Two Prepare For A Very Long And Dark ImprisonmentAs Food Runs Low And The Days Go From Broiling Hot To Freezing Cold, It Is All Dashti Can Do To Keep Them Fed And Comfortable With The Arrival Outside The Tower Of Saren S Two Suitors One Welcome, The Other Decidedly Less So The Girls Are Confronted With Both Hope And Great Danger, And Dashti Must Make The Desperate Choices Of A Girl Whose Life Is Worth Than She KnowsWith Shannon Hale S Lyrical Language, This Little Known Classic Fairy Tale From The Brothers Grimm Is Reimagined And Reset On The Central Asian Steppes It Is A Completely Unique Retelling Filled With Adventure And Romance, Drama And Disguise This was a pleasant, if somewhat simplistic book with a neat conceit, unique setting, but rather uncomplicated characters and a straightforward plot First off, the good I liked the setting of this story, which was heavily influenced by traditional Mongolian lifestyles from ancestor worship, to use of animals, to the cultural practices of the people It is a pretty fascinating and complex setting that should getattention from authors I also liked the two main characters arcs over the course of the story There was a clear change in both the peasant and the princess over the course of their struggles and I appreciated how much they had changed by the end Finally the story itself was pleasantly diverting enough and fit in nicely with the setting and culture the author devised There wasn t much in the way of unexpected twists or turns but there also wasn t anything grossly offensive to my literary senses It was perfectly fine.
As for the bad, every other characters in the story was remarkably shallow and basic They were either 100% good, 100% bad, or 100% there to advance merely the story There was no nuance or complexity to them The good guys were just as good and virtuous in the beginning as they were at the end The bad guys were just as bad and vicious in the beginning as they were in the end Their motivations were equally simple and dull.
The story, while pleasantly diverting also wasn t challenging It was pretty clear how the story was going to end from several miles away So while the path to get to the end was fine the ending didn t even rate as a climax, just the next logical step on a very obvious blueprint of a narrative arc There was little in the way of dramatic tension and the characters never truly felt endangered.
I also wasn t a huge fan of the voice of the narrative The book is told through a series of diary entries of a peasant girl, Dashti The prose was very simple and straightforward, which fits the perspective of the character writing it But just because it was appropriate doesn t make it compelling or enthralling to my sensibilities It certainly got the job done but it also limited the perspective I could have gotten from other characters in the story I think the choice to tell this story from diary entries may have fed into the other weaknesses We only get Dashti s limited perspective on events and people, necessarily limiting our insights into their motivations, hopes, fears, and agendas It made most of the other characters flat because we could only see them from one perspective If the writer had interspersed Dashti s writings with the writings of other characters I think the narrative would have been richer and deeper But then Hale would have to change the title of the book PThis wasn t a bad book by any stretch, just a somewhat unambitious one that didn t take any risks While that meant that it didn t stumble at all it also resulted in a very meh book overall.
5 stars for a cute YA high fantasy Fans of fairy tale retellings, this is one for you Dashti, a mucker maid, is going to be locked up in a tower with her Lady Saren for seven years Lady Saren refused to marry a man she did not love, so Dashti must prepare for a rigorous and daunting imprisonment Soon, Dashti finds rats in the flour and mold on the cheese It becomes a struggle to survive, and Dashti also must deal with Lady Saren s two completely different suitors Dashti must make a choice, for herself, and for Saren.
In Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale brings to life the tale of Maid Maleen Set in an area much like Mongolia, the Eight Realms, Hale creates up a social system very different than our own Some realms are ruled by women, which rarely happened at the time Hale strives to combine reality with magic, and focuses not on the princess, but on the dirty maid Hale questions arranged marriage and encourages independence and hard work through the determined character of Dashti Throughout the book, Hale carries a message of hope and fortitude.
Hale succeeded in her message, and inspires girls to be stronger Although Dashti often had an attitude of servitude, she prevails with her competing attitude of perseverance Dashti challanges unfair but long used customs of arranged marriage, a lesson for girls Most adapted fairy tales focus on the princesses, but Dashti is in no way a princess She knows how to work, and Hale attempts to show a different kind of heroine.
Book of a Thousand Days is a valuable book in today s world of Clique and Gossip Girl novels It has a message that supports girls for who they are, while telling an entrancing tale Despite not having that much action to attract reluctant readers, after a couple chapters, the book picks up In today s society, any book with a strong girl main character that doesn t do drugs or make bad decisions is extremely valuable.
I m very excited about this book because Shannon Hale is coming near me in January The book raises a few questions for me that would be great to ask her.
Shannon Hale has also written five other books Austenland, River Secrets, Princess Academy, Enna Burning, and The Goose Girl She has been heralded as one of the best living fantasy authors of the day She won a Newbery Honor for Princess Academy.
I adored Book of a Thousand Days because it was a fantasy with not too much magic I m not a huge fantasy person, if only because I like to delve into a character s feelings Many fantasies don t do that, and focuson the magic Book of a Thousand Days has characters with realistic, understandable feelings that draw you in to the fairy tale.