Monday, November 7, 2011

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

The False Princess
by Eilis O'Neal
Published by Egmont USA
January 25, 2011
336 pgs

Summary from Amazon:

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.  Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks.  But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

MY RATING: Pretty Darn Good

The main character in this book is so different, it is refreshing.  She is quiet & shy, clumsy, sometimes painfully obedient, obsessed with duty… the exact opposite of the brash lead woman I expected.  In fact, I found Sinda closer to my version of reality.  I tend to trust authority, enjoy studying and writing, and prefer the position of wall flower to the center of attention.  So when Sinda tackles the mystery of the throne and perseveres to make things right, she is believable and enjoyable.

The storyline moves along quickly.  I finished most of the book in one sitting because when one minor conflict is resolved, another tumbles in.  The one fault (for me) was the excessive introspection, even within the acceptable bounds of the character.  It’s true that thoughts often circle repetitively, but it’s not fun to wade through on purpose.

The romance is gentle and hopeful and I felt it was ok for marriage to be discussed, like “happily ever after” in a kingdom created a least a few centuries earlier than present time. Magic aptitude is like any other natural talent, like singing:  some can, some can’t, and all to different degrees. 

The world was described clearly.  I think I could recognize Treb and even Vivaskari if I saw them as well as other places.  Kiernan and the princesses were described well, completely different characters.  The Unnamed God was a little frightening, cold, hard and remote.

Overall, a fun, fast read.