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Book of a thousand days
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2007
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The author of the Newbery Honor Book Princess Academy (2005) offers another captivating fantasy filled with romance, magic, and strong female characters. The story, based on a little-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, takes place in an imagined ancient Central Asia. Orphaned Dashti is a hardworking, pragmatic girl, who grew up in the open, windswept steppes. She finds work in the city with a young noblewoman, Lady Saren. Then Lady Saren refuses an advantageous marriage, and as punishment, she and Dashti are sentenced to seven years in a sealed tower. A tiny window is the tower's only connection to the outside world, and it's there that Saren's two suitors, the terrifying Khasar and the handsome Tegus, come calling. Written in diary form in Dashti's voice, the gripping tale follows the two young women through their imprisonment and their escape into a grim world of warring societies. Readers will quickly embrace Dashti, an invincible storybook heroine with a healer's touch, who accomplishes battlefield heroics while nurturing a powerful, secret love for a lord. Fans of Gail Carson Levin's Fairest (2006) will embrace this similar mix of exotic, fully realized setting; thrilling, enchanted adventure; and heart-melting romance.--Engberg, Gillian Copyright 2007 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

A rousing, even spellbinding tale--with outlines in the Grimms' Maid Maleen--is set in medieval Mongolia and told in journal form. Dashti is maid and scribe to Lady Saren, whose father has bricked both of them in a tower for Saren's crime of refusing to be married to vicious lord Khasar. Dashti knows healing songs from the steppes, and she needs them, as Saren is what we would now call schizophrenic. The girls' captivity is eased at first by visits of the Khan Tegus, but the Khasar visits, too, and threatens to burn the tower with them inside. The rats that have eaten their food supply also tunnel a way out, so they escape--and find Saren's father's city destroyed. They make their way to Khan Tegus, where both girls serve hidden in his kitchen. Dashti's healing songs are needed in a war between Khasar and Tegus, and who she is, and who they are, come forth in a strongly presented climax. Dashti's voice is bright and true; Hale captures her sturdy personality, Saren's mental fragility and Khan Tegus's romantic warrior as vibrantly as she limns the stark terror of the Mongolian cold and the ugly spirit from which Khasar draws his strength. (Fantasy. 12-15) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Based on a classic Grimm's fairy tale, this is the story told by Dashti, a maid from the steppes of a medieval land, who sacrifices her freedom to accompany her mistress into exile. Imprisoned in a remote tower after Lady Saren refuses to marry the man her father has chosen, the maid and the lady have almost nothing in common. But the loyalty that grows between the two, the man they love in different ways for different reasons, and the lies they tell because of and in spite of each other, combine to evoke the deepest bonds, transcend the loneliest landscapes, and erupt in a conclusion so romantic, so clever, and so right that no reader will be left dry-eyed.
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