I enjoyed rereading Shannon Hale's Princess Academy. I wanted to reread both Princess Academy and Palace of Stone before reading the third book out just this year. There isn't always time for me--unfortunately--to reread all the books in a series each time a new book is released, but, I do try to make it a priority when I've loved the author's work in the past. And that is certainly the case with Shannon Hale!
Miri is the heroine of Princess Academy. She is small, for her age, and is, in a way, kept separate from others her own age for the simple fact that everyone but Miri is already working in the quarry. Miri tends the goats and keeps house for her family: her older sister and father. (Her mother died within a week of giving birth to her.) Her father isn't a man of many words, and, Miri misunderstands much. The community in which she lives is dependent on traders. They work the quarry and mine linder, they trade the precious stone for food and other supplies. It is both an anxious and exciting time for the village. This year is especially so. For this year the trader brings a BIG, BIG message. All the girls of the community--within a certain age, I believe twelve or thirteen to sixteen or so--MUST attend Princess Academy. For the prophets have revealed that Mount Eskel is the home of the future Princess/Queen. The prince heir (Steffan) will visit the academy in one year to choose his bride. All the girls must be trained and educated for any one of the girls could potentially be 'the one'. It is a huge shock to the community. Miri, of course, is one of the girls.
Readers get to know many of the girls at the Princess Academy. Some better than others, of course. Britta and Katar are two girls that get much attention. For very different reasons though. The book chronicles Miri's time at the academy: what she's learning, what they're all learning, what she likes, what she wants, etc. One thing she wants is to be able to go home more frequently and see Peder, the boy she loves and hopes one day to marry.
Another focus of the book is on quarry speech and the magical qualities of linder.
The book celebrates stories and storytelling and the power of words and literacy, the importance of education and knowledge. Miri is wise because she is able to absorb what she's taught and use it to her advantage and to the community's advantage.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews