Monday, June 23, 2008

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

The Two Princesses of Bamarre

The Two Princesses of Bamarre
by Gail Carson Levine

Hardback: 241 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
First Released: 2001

Source: Library

Back Cover Blurb:

Brave and adventureous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other.

The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters' lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.

This is a "fairy tale re-telling." The pacing is good, and the characters change realistically throughout the book. The relationship between the sisters and between the sisters and their friends is well written. However, the reason Addie falls in love with one of those friends is not very clear or convincing in my opinion.

I did like how Addie manages to defeat a series of monsters without suddenly gaining expert swordsmanship skill without any training (well, at least not until the very, very end).

There are a few kisses, but no sex. There is magic in this story, generally in the form of magical objects known from other fairy tales. Overall, I'd recommend this as "a good, clean fun" novel.

Excerpt: Chapter One

Out of a land laid waste
To a land untamed,
Monster ridden,
The lad Drualt led
A ruined, ragtag band.
In his arms, tenderly,
He carried Bruce,
The child king,
First ruler of Bamarre.

So begins Drualt, the epic poem of Bamarre's greatest hero, our kingdom's ideal. Drualt fought Bamarre's monsters--the ogres, gryphons, specters, and dragons that still plague us--and he helped his sovereign found our kingdom.

Today Bamarre needed a hero more than ever. The monsters were slaughtering hundreds of Bamarrians every year, and the Gray Death carried away even more.

I was no hero. The dearest wishes of my heart were for safety and tranquility. The world was a perilous place, wrong for the likes of me.

Once, when I was four years old and playing in the castle courtyard, a shadow passed over me. I shrieked, certain it was a gryphon or a dragon. My sister, Meryl, ran to me and held me, her arms barely long enough to go around me.

"It's gone, Addie," she whispered. "It's far away by now." And then she crooned a stanza from Drualt.

"Step follows step.
Hope follows courage.
Set your face toward danger.
Set your heart on victory."

I quieted, soothed by Meryl's voice and her warm breath on my ear.

Meryl was my protector, as necessary to me as air and food. Our mother, Queen Daria, had succumbed to the Gray Death when I was two and Meryl was three. Father rarely visited the nursery. Bella, our governess, loved us in her way, but her way was to moralize and to scold.

Meryl understood me, although we were as different as could be. She was fair, and I was dark complexioned. She was small and compact, a concentration of focused energy. I was always tall for my age, and loose-limbed, and my energy was nervous and fluttery. Meryl was brave, and I was afraid of almost everything--from monsters to strangers to spiders.

No comments: