This book really reminded me of books I read when I was younger, princess books are usually a great treat and this was no exception!
Miri is a cute girl just a smidge smaller than her fellow village children and believes that is why she can't work the quarry with her sister Marda. Soon a kings messenger from the lowlands comes bearing a message that it has been prophesied that a girl from her town will be chosen as a princess. The girls are whisked away under protest down the mountain to a stone home made of linder (their primary trade) to learn the ways of being a lady for his Highness Prince Steffan. The tutor Olana is a mean, witchy teacher with strict rules and even stricter punishments. Miri tries to stand up for her fellow classmates and ultimately ends up alienating herself (as much as the stranger lowlander Britta! Who had come after being orphaned) Miri tries her best to make good of the situation and finds solace in books. She becomes fascinated by the books that eventually help her town in trading! Eager to share what she has learned with her home she does her best in studies and even helps others to go when they fail tutor Olana's horribly hard tests.
After she tells her home of what she learned she hopes for some nod of approval from her father but he is as stoic and solemn. She employs her teaching with her crush Peder, but somehow manages to say the wrong things after a conversation that was perfect. In trying to return to the academy she employs the rules of diplomacy with the help from her rival Katar. The negotiations with Tutor Olana go well and all is better in the academy. Miri, fascinated with learning quarry speak tries to reach out to Britta with it and even though she does not understand it, they form a bond. As Miri continues her studies and helps her village with trading, she begins teaching her sister Marda to read on the rest weeks. Finally, she is crowned academy princess! She gets to meet Prince Steffan and is conflicted in her feeling for home, Peder and family but wanting to wander and explore her homeland. After a long night of constricted talk and dancing she gets alone time with the Prince to whom she speaks candidly and endearing. Britta has fallen ill this night as well. The next day the prince leaves and bandits appear after Miri has a small quibble with Peder. She tries many times to help her classmates escape and ends up bound and gagged. She lays on the linder floor and tries desperately to quarry speak to the village for help. After a day she tries Peder with a memory and falls asleep. She awakens and knows her village is outside to help and quickly gets a plan to get the girls out a window while the bandits sleep. most escape but nine are caught by the bandits before they can reach their families, including Miri by the bandit leader Dan. She uses quarry speak when she is able to tell them to strike but the message is only received by Peder. She takes the linder hawk Peder had carved for her and stabs Dan's hand. they both tumble to the edge and the bandit grabs Miris leg trying to climb up. The next thing she knew Dan was flailing through the air to his death and her father above her, his mallet gone.
After her recovery she finds out Britta is a noble and knows the prince! She couldn't face him, though she loved him and Miri convinces her she needs to face him. Miri decided she didn't want to be a princess and Britta was perfect for it. The prince sees Britta finally and instantly recognizes her. Now they girls are all invited to the wedding in the capital city and Britta wants Miri to be the delegate. She declines and says to choose Katar, she wants to leave so badly. Finally she gets to be with Peder and they have a small cute confession to each other. Miri also hopes to open an academy of learning for her town.
This book was lovely. I read it very quickly but I couldn't put it down once they got to the academy. I found myself reading faster to try to get when they met the prince but I wanted to know!
I was very happy with the ending and excited to know that there is a sequel! The only issue I had was that it was from Miri's perspective and she was supposed to be kinda illiterate but she used some big words in the beginning. I feel that should have progressed and been more apparent as she read her books and studied more.
Other than that it was great! 4 stars!