Source: Bought from Books-A-Million
Back Cover Blurb:
Rhis, princess of a small kingdom, is invited along with all the other princesses in her part of the world to the coming of age party of the Crown Prince of Vesarja, which is the central and most important kingdom. When Iardith, the prettiest and most perfect of all the princesses, is abducted, Rhis and her friends go to the rescue.
What happens to Rhis and her posse has unexpected results not only for the princesses, but for the princes who chase after them. Everyone learns a lot about friendship and hate, politics and laughter, romantic ballads and sleeping in the dirt with nothing but a sword for company. But most of all they learn about the many meanings of love.
This is a young adult fantasy "battle of court manners" novel. If you liked Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel book, then you'll likely enjoy this book. I certainly did.
The world-building and pacing were very good. The characters were engaging and realistically varied. The characters learned a lot of good lessons about making friends, why bullies can be mean, and so on, but the lessons don't come across as lectures. There was romance in the book, but no sex. Overall, it was a "good, clean fun" novel.
Excerpt: Chapter One
From the tower lookout in the royal castle--highest tower in all the kingdom of Nym--Princess Rhis peered down through the misting rain at a messenger on the road.
This rider slumped in the saddle of a long-legged lowlands race-horse that was now plodding up the steep road, occasionally hidden by tall stands of deep green fir. The messenger had to be from the lowlands. Anyone raised in Nym's mountains knew that the only animal for the steep roads was a pony. Their sturdy bodies and short legs fared better on steep slopes. The rider's cloak was crimson, a bright splash of color even in the gloom of a rainy afternoon. None of Nym's royal messengers wore crimson cloaks. This one must be an equerry from the Queen of faraway Vesarja, she thought, and turned away from the window to resume pacing around the little room.
Once, many years ago, the old tower had been a lookout for Nym's warriors, no longer necessary since the kingdom had established magical protection. Now the small, stone tower room had become Rhis's private retreat.