Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 1, 1999
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in The Kingdom series (can be read as stand alone)
Source: Swapped through Paperbackswap.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
“Birle has agreed to be wed to the huntsman Muir as an escape from the drudgery of life at her father’s inn — but the moment she looks into the bellflower blue eyes of the man she comes upon stealing one of her father’s boats, Birle knows she cannot marry Muir. Even after she discovers the mysterious stranger is Orien, a Lord and as unreachable to an innkeeper’s daughter as a star, Birle is determined to travel with him as far as he will allow.
Their travels take Birle to a world far from home, a world where Lords may become slaves, where Princes rule by fear, and where Fortune’s Wheel turns more swiftly and dangerously than Birle could have imagined.”
I actually read this book a very long time ago when I was 12 or 13 years old (over twenty five years ago at this point). I remember absolutely adoring it and had originally borrowed it from the library. A few years ago I acquired a copy of it to read again as an adult. Even all these years later I still enjoyed it a lot. It’s a solid fantasy with excellent world-building, wonderful adventures, and some romance.
The story does move a bit slowly, but the beautiful descriptions and sincere tone to the story match this pace perfectly. As a pre-teen I loved the adventure and romance (I still do) but as an adult I appreciated other things about the story this time through. I really enjoyed how Voigt takes her characters through such a variety of life situations; Birle goes from Innkeeper’s daughter, to servant, to slave, to Lady, and then to farm holder throughout a fairly short span of years. I enjoyed how all of this is spun around the theme of Fortune’s Wheel.
I loved how you see these characters standing up for their true selves despite all their trials. I remember as a pre-teen being upset and angry at how Birle chooses her own path at the end of the book; but reading it as an adult I recognize now how much strength and wisdom she shows in that choice.
I was impressed at how well this fantasy story has stood the test of time. I also was intrigued by how parts of the story affected me differently now that I am an adult. This is a beautifully written story about finding one’s own path in life and staying true to yourself.
Overall a beautiful story and a well done fantasy. I would recommend to those who enjoy deliberately paced fantasies set in beautiful worlds that have some romance in them. This is an excellent read for YA and older.