Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Book of a Thousand Days
By Shannon Hale
Most enjoyed by 5th through 8th grade girls

Girls, you've gotta read this book. It's got a strong heroine, exciting adventure, a handsome prince, a little romance, and a yak. Yes, a yak. It plays a small but important role in the story (more about it later). Guys, this is probably one book you'll want to skip. Unless you like yaks. Watch for a new title in a day or two that might be more to your liking.

Dashti is Lady's Saren's maid. She begins her new position just as Lady Saren is sentenced to spend seven years in a tower for her refusal to marry the evil Khan Khasar. One day, through a vent in the windowless tower, Dashti hears a voice. It is Khan Tegus, Lady Saren's true love. But Lady Saren, upset over her imprisonment, refuses to talk to the Khan and orders Dashti to talk for her. With each of Khan Tegus's visits, Dashti likes him more and more, despite the fact that neither can see the other. But the visits end with the arrival of Khan Khasar, who destroys Lady Saren's homeland. As their food runs low, and rats begin to overtake the tower, Dashti finds a way to freedom for the pair and they begin to journey to a land of safety. Along the way, Dashti befriends a yak who keeps them warm on their journey and serves as their entry into the new kingdom. Forced to become servants, Dashti and Lady Saren scrub pots in the kitchen of the kingdom's khan. When the Khan's loyal army commander is injured in a battle, Dashti is called upon to help heal the man. As she enters the sick room, Dashti meets the kingdom's ruler, the man she's fallen in love with, Khan Tegus.

And that's where I'll stop. Set in Mongolia, Shannon Hale has written this variation on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. Dashti is a young lady you won't soon forget. She's the reason you'll keep reading. No matter what trials face her, Dashti is always find something to sing about and be happy. Make sure you've plenty of time to read this book. You won't want to stop once you start!

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