“When a beautiful princess refuses to marry the prince her father has chosen, her father is furious. So furious he locks her in a tower with her maid, Dashti. She has seven years of solitude to think about her insolence. But the princess is petulant and spoilt, and eats the meagre food store as if she were at court.
Dashti realises they must escape or starve. And that’s not all she discovers. There is something sinister behind her princess’s fears of the prince, something which means they could be in more danger beyond the walls of the tower than imprisoned within them…”
‘The Book of a Thousand Days’ is a beautifully crafted, though brief story that really made me smile.
It is written in the form of a diary, and even contains occasional sketches by the diary keeper, Dashti.
The plot of the story is quite simple and is split into two parts; the time spent in the tower, and their adventure thereafter. The story focuses on the secret surrounding Lord Khasar, the prince Lady Saren was promised to, and why Lady Saren is so afraid of him.
It is interesting, however, to see the story written from Dashti, Saren’s maid’s perspective. The way Lady Saren acted was very well written, and her madness and fright was portrayed very well. The book really was layered with emotions and perspectives, and can be taken in many different ways.
I found it fairly easy to guess what would happen in the novel, but in this instance I don’t feel that it really detracted from the story all that much. It was still charming and beautiful to read.
Dashti has a wonderfully individual voice that makes you warm to her instantly. Hale’s writing flows and it is easy to slip into Dashti and her mistress, Lady Saren’s world.
Lady Saren is a complete contrast to Dashti and at first I dismissed her as spoilt and rude. However, as the book progressed I came to realise that Lady Saren had reasons for the way she acted, and eventually I felt sorry for her and came to like her character. The author seems quite able to manipulate feelings about characters, and I instantly hated Lord Khasar (which is unlike me, because the ‘baddies’ tend to be my favourite characters).
I really enjoyed the descriptions of ‘Mucker’ life, and the healing songs that Dashti sang added a beautiful touch to the story. And, though it is quite embarrassing, I do admit to attempting to sing some of them (not while healing anything, I assure you) and they did not sound very good. I’m sure Dashti sings them much better than I do.
The dialogue in the book is realistic and easy flowing, as was the way Dashti was always concerned about her mistress. Her character didnt experience too many drastic changes, and those that she did were subtle and effortless.
The book was based somewhat around Medieval Mongolia as well as the Grimm Brother’s tale ‘Maid Maleen’ which itself is based on a German fairy tale – if you want to know more about it you can see the Wikipedia page here.
The Mongolian aspect to the book is something really, really individual that I haven’t read about anywhere else, so this gave the book a really special touch that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The book is a mild fantasy, so if you really don’t like fantasy all that much, but still enjoy fairy tales, this is a wonderful book for you. It is beautifully written, with strong characters and an easy plot that doesn’t require too much thinking.
There are a few deleted scenes from the book that you can read on the author, Shannon Hale’s website, along with the first few pages of the book and other special features that might interest you.
Rating (out of 5):
“You’re better than seven years of food. You’re better than windows. You’re even better than the sky.“