This has been my favorite Shannon Hale yet. I liked it better than The Princess Academy
and better than Goose Girl
. Something about the character of Dashti stuck with me.
Dashti is no one. Well, not exactly--she's a mucker, which is about as low on the social ladder as you can get. Worse still, she has red wine birthmarks on one of her arms and on her face, which basically means there's little chance of her marrying well...or at all.
After her mother died, she traded her last animal for employment as a lady's maid to Saren. Bad luck for Dashti, just as she's completed her training and placed into Saren's service, Saren is being locked in a tower for seven years for refusing to marry the man her father has chosen for her, choosing instead a lord from a different region, one she's never met, but has exchanged love letters with.