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Book of a Thousand Days Paperback – September 15, 2009
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
When you are done with this book, you do want to tell people. In my case, I want to give this book to several lovely young women of my acquaintance to sit along with others that I hope they'll read and be inspired by. I know our local schools are always looking for donations, too.
The story is written as entries in Dashti's 'thought book.' It opens with Dashti recounting being sent to her new assignment as a lady's maid. Orphaned at 14, the child of the steppes had walked to the city and given her last horse as payment for a job. When The Mistress learned she could sing the healing songs, she trained her as a lady's maid and sent her to Lady Saren.
Before she knows the circumstances, Dashti pledges herself to the 16-year-old Saren. Then, she learns her oath will trap her in a tower with her charge for 7 years because Saren has refused to wed Lord Khasar, the man her father has chosen for her.
You'd think a tale of two women stuck in a tower for many days would be boring--it's not. The contrast between Dashti and Saren's reckoning of the situation is riveting. Saren weeps at her misfortune, but Dashti rejoices--she has a place to live and food for seven whole years!
And those contrasts are what keep you reading the book long past your bedtime into the night. Next, we see two suitors--one kind and one unthinkably cruel.
Dashti is what keeps you reading. Despite whatever misfortunes are dealt her, she works to keep her heart full of song and faith. She believes both in herself and others and that's a powerful message for people of all ages. "Book of a Thousand Days" is one of those stories that's good to find during your own hard times because Dashti's faith and message are inspiring to the reader as well.
I strongly recommend that you reserve about 4-5 hours to read this book and perhaps a bit more time just to look back on some of the lovelier passages. I hope if you love this book, you'll be passing it along to others as well. Dashti's is a worthwhile message to spread.
Main character Dashti's voice is what makes this tale come alive, and in broader terms, Shannon Hale's prose sings. Pun intended--one lovely component of the book are the healing songs Dashti sings to her mistress Lady Saren and others. As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent, in an understated way, that the songs really are magic. I like the fact that the words of the small songs both do and do not seem to relate to the pains Dashti heals with them. These fragments of folk song and folk magic, tiny pieces of poetry, evoke images from the life Dashti remembers growing up on the steppes.
Which reminds me--what a wonderful and unique setting for this story! Medieval Mongolia with a dash of folk magic makes for a refreshing change of venue in today's crowded fantasy market.
Another thing I like about Book of a Thousand Days is that Dashti's evolution as a person who comes to believe she is as valuable as the gentry she reveres is so unforced that it doesn't seem like a device or jar with the culture Hale describes. Plot-wise, the early build-up might seem a little slow, but the oddity of the girls' being locked in a tower for years and the ways in which Dashti handles her imprisonment, not to mention the visitors (good and evil), make the first half of the book compelling in its own right.
The legal dilemmas at the end of the story form quite a tangle, but their solution is kindly as well as sensible, giving poor beleaguered Lady Saren a chance to finally come into her own. Saren is a strange character, but an intriguing one. It's nice to see her gradually emerging from her seemingly endless state of terror. Her relationship with Dashti also raises interesting questions about the sometimes uneven nature of friendship.
Despite its fairy tale roots, the romance in this story reads with such ordinary happiness that it, too, sings. The growing friendship between Tegus and Dashti is all the more sweet because she is so determined to ignore it (it's inappropriate!) and because their appreciation of each other is refreshingly real. Tegus is appealing because he's a person, not a stereotypical handsome prince.
I haven't even touched on how Dashti handles the big villain of the piece, but that's a great subplot, too. One last thing--I love the names of these tiny kingdoms, and the way they allude to a rich religious culture which ends up playing a subtle part in the plot.
Shannon Hale got off to a promising with Goose Girl, and she just seems to get better with every book!
Angry at her for not marrying the ruler of a nearby kingdom, Lady Saren's father locks her and her maid in a tower. He plans to leave them there for seven years. It is Dashti, the maid's, responsibility to keep them fed and in good condition, no matter how hot or how cold it may be.
With evil lords, unresponsive guards, and dreamy suitors knocking on their tiny window on a daily basis, they have enough views of outside life to keep living through to the next day. But when all signs of outside human life suddenly vanish, they find themselves in a race against time to save the eight realms and their own lives.
I started and ended this book in a single day (despite having household tasks, homework, and a to-do list longer than it's ever been before). I was caught up in the world of Dashti and her dear Lady Saren. Their tale brought me to tears and made me laugh.
This novel was definitely an enjoyable read that kept me turning pages as fast as I could.
Reviewed by: Jessica Cave
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read a sample first and I'm glad I made the purchase.
Thank you for a nice story.