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Thorn (Dauntless Path Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 504 pages||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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|Book 1 of 2 in Dauntless Path||Age Level: 13 and up|
|Grade Level: 8 - 9|
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From the Author
"A lovely, atmospheric fairy tale fantasy about a girl and her found family. I loved it!"-- "Gail Carriger, New York Times bestselling author" --This text refers to the audioCD edition.
- File Size : 1874 KB
- Print Length : 504 pages
- Publisher : HarperTeen (March 24, 2020)
- Publication Date : March 24, 2020
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B078R3PYY7
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Page Numbers Source ISBN : 006283570X
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #120,916 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I'm kicking myself, and I'd like to kick the other reviewers who swayed me not to read it initially.
I loved this book. I loved it. There are a handful of beloved books I've read that fit into this category -- simple but very good writing; a thoughtful look into what it means to be good, true, moral, loyal, a friend, what we owe each other, society at large, etc (in a non-preachy way); good relationship building; and an interesting fantasy setting. Books like that just grab my heart and stay with me. I remember feeling this way when I was in 3rd grade and read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the first time, and then later books like Watership Down, Crown Duel, The Blue Sword, the first Harry Potter book, Sabriel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Shannon Hale's Goose Girl...
I had to shake my head over the main complaint of people who gave this book one or two stars. They seem frustrated at the main character's lack of action (action with a capital A!). This is not a Throne of Glass novel (and I enjoyed several of those). This heroine is a people watcher, introspective, escaping abuse and fearful she will be heading into another abusive situation. She is a rabbit who's warren is surrounded by foxes, still and sometimes frozen by necessity, but watching, waiting, and deciding when it is safe to move. I enjoyed seeing her learn to be independent, make her first real friends, and struggle with how and when to take action, She is aware enough to know her own fears and weaknesses, and it's not an instant-action "fix" for her. I appreciate that this story is not about instant-action love, (thank the lord/lady that it is NOT about a freakin' love triangle), or instant-action magical battles either. There is friendship, love, the possibility of romantic love, battles, magic, and bravery.
Other people who did not review the book well didn't like aspects of the book (talking horse, how the heroine handled the initial identity switching) that are actually parts of the original Goose Girl story. Not much to do about that.
I wish I'd read Thorn sooner and I look forward to reading Sunbolt.
This must have have hit just the sweet spot for folktale retellings tinged with some heavy emotional work related to abuse I didn’t know I was craving.
And there isn’t even enough romance in this to do its usual lure of tempting me to keep reading late into the night– and I read it in one night anyway. (Shannon Hale’s Goose Girl has the romance and a younger YA innocence, this has the heavy moral quandaries about how to define punishment and justice, and what it means to an abused person to have enough value to be defended)
Alyrra is an overlooked princess with only horses, servants and the Wind as friends who seizes on a chance to leave an abusive situation by agreeing to marry a foreign prince sight unseen. She travels to her new city to meet her betrothed, only something happens on the journey to force her into the role of the king’s goose girl. She finds acceptance amongst the other servants…and danger.
I considered 4 stars for this review at first. There’s so much going on here that is never fully explored or realized. There’s the mysterious Red Hawke who gives Alyrra-goosegirl-Thorn a brutal justice despite his outlaw status, there’s the untapped pain of the Lady’s fae magic and her willingness to hurt innocents on her own quest for vengeance, and there’s the people of her adopted city who are experiencing violence and violation. Not to mention the fate of Falada (her special horse friend). Sigh.
None of these situations get resolved, although Alyrra figures out her identity problem and what to do with the prince.
And yet, I can’t deny the emotional impact or the pure transparency of the writing that swept me along with Alyrra/Thorn’s story. It is a story of a quiet honesty (Alyrra/Thorn is almost hobbit-like in her ability to appreciate honest labor, a safe place, and basking in the regard of friends) that wins out over other political machinations. Its about Thorn realizing she is worthy of love and finding folks who will protect her, and figuring out who she herself can protect in turn. I guess I love stories where groups of friend rush around trying to protect a main character who doesn’t understand they are worthy of love.
A beautiful retelling with themes I think important for YA folks, but some of the abuse and Falada’s fate is a bit much for younger or middle YA. There’s a short story about one of the side characters at the end of this edition, and another short story about events prior to Thorn floating around out there, but this book definitely felt like a first in a series, and I can’t find reference to further books that would resolve the situations mentioned above. Which is too bad!
Top reviews from other countries
Thorn is a retelling of the Grimm fairytale, The Goose Girl. I think the most well-known retelling of this story in Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, but I haven’t read that (it’s on my list though) or the original, so I came to this with no ideas about the plot etc. I don’t think this hurt me at all as the story made complete sense to me as a standalone piece.
I thought Alyrra was such an interesting and unique character, a princess who’s honest no matter the consequences, forced into a whole life where she has to lie to everyone about who she really is. It’s also the only story that I can think of where, being robbed of their crown, birthright etc., the protagonist makes no attempt to win it back and is happy to settle down into a ‘real’ job with no glory and hard labour. Alyrra is a likeable character, who makes plenty of mistakes and choices which she regrets. But the key is that they’re not silly-annoying-MC choices which make you scream, and she learns from them, growing as the novel goes on.
The writing manages to be at once simple and beautifully descriptive. The plot moves along steadily, focusing on the everyday things that are important to Alyrra (now Thorn, the goose girl) rather than veering off into the wider world. Although justice in the city, the politics of the nobility and an intriguing sort of thieves guild are touched upon, they’re never allowed to steal the attention from Alyrra and how they relate to her problems. Prince Kestrin, who I suppose is technically the love interest, appears very little for the majority of the novel and Alyrra never lets her guard down around him, keeping her wits about her and questioning his motives. Even at the end, there are no sweeping YA-typical declarations of undying love. They come to an understanding of each other and there’s an obvious affection there, but the author is restrained, hinting at a future together rather than rushing their relationship for conclusion’s sake.
I loved this story, as a retelling and on it’s own, and I’ll be on the look out for the author’s other works.
This is one of those books you need to free up a good hour or so to start reading it as it takes a while to warm up and draw you in. Pretty much your standard Fantasy fare initially - vaguely Medieval in format and appearance society where Magic exists and everyone is aware of it. Abused daughter of the family is in a precarious situation (in this case it is the daughter of the King) and has to sacrifice herself for the good of the family even though they treat her worse than one of their servants. Although you know that Alyrra is going to come out on top it is actually quite fun getting there and I did enjoy reading the book.
There are some bits that really don't seem to belong and it gets a bit bogged down in its own rhetoric from time to time. However, the whole idea behind what happens to Alyrra on her way to this neighbouring land to be married off to their Prince is well thought through and gives her a genuine chance to escape from her previous life. I'm still not sure why the main device to assist her is a talking horse - I kept singing the Mr Ed theme music whenever he took centre stage which spoilt it somewhat for me.
Each interaction with The Lady gets progressively odder and what was initially suspenseful becomes a little bit bland by the time we get to the ultimate Showdown. The end just felt very rushed somehow and it isn't given anywhere near as much space to develop as the ancillary storylines. This is a shame as from what we do learn of The Lady and her relationship to the Royal Family you can understand her behaviour towards them and why her Magical Garden has become her place of solace. However, from Kestrin's reactions to what subsequently occurs I don't think I really understand The Lady's reaction and not enough time is given to extrapolating. Every other interaction gets plenty of space to breathe and live on the page (sometimes for far too long) so it seems strange this is so truncated.
Other than that it is a pretty standard Medievalish Fantasy Romp that does keep the reader entertained and engaged enough to WANT to read on.
Well, this was disappointing, to say the least. I was really looking forward to reading this book, had it pre-ordered, even though I wasn't familiar with the fairy tale that inspired it. Or maybe I don't remember.
Thing is, the heroine is the weakest I've encountered in a long time. She's everyone's punching bag. Her mother, her brother, the entire court, sans the servants mock her and call her weak and stupid. And you know what? They're right.
So angry I wasted time and energy on it - picked it up twice because I couldn't get into it and it was annoying. Can't say the writing style was to my taste either.
Oh, well. 2 stars, my standard DNF rating.
But this is a fate that might just have some positives for Alyrra, or Thoreena as she renames herself after a wild rose. Now she doesn't have to worry about her brother, or court politics, or whether her betrothed might be a murderer. She has a job as a goose girl, she makes some friends among the stable hands, and she has some money. But can she abandon her duty and the prince who might be in danger?
Okay, as you may have guessed I'm really enjoying Intisar Khanani's work. Yay for the Diverse Universe tour and new awesome authors.
I really should have read this book a year ago, as it was most favourably compared to Robin McKinley and everyone agrees1 that McKinley is awesome. Well, Khanani is too. I've thoroughly enjoyed all of her work that I've read. I can't wait til her next one.
What I enjoy most is that there is real emotion and heart to her characters. Thorn is flawed, but she tries so hard to do what is right without getting overly involved. Why should she have to put herself at risk for things that are outside her control? Plus she has a talking horse.
And I loved the world that Thorn lived in. It was so real. Not perfect, far from it in fact, especially if you are poor2 but it is real. I really do hope that her other books are also set in the same `verse, it reads to me like they could be.
And I loved her relationship with the prince. She doesn't really know him, but she'll still marry him, she has to in a way, but she also chooses to. She knows what the world has to offer, and she can see the possibilities there, she isn't going to fool herself and pretend that everything will be happily ever after, but she isn't going to discount that either.
The one issue I had with the book was the end. It came too soon! and too suddenly. And there was so much more I wanted to know, about where Falada came from, and how he kept on talking to her. I know magic explains a lot away, but I still wanted to know a little more. But then again, I'd probably give out3 if everything had ended tied up in a nice neat bow! But I do wish there was just a tad more to the ending.
Alyrra's initial passivity can feel outdated, but her history of abuse makes it a believable trait, and Alyrra learns and grows from her experiences, discovering, with encouragement, her true strength.
Well worth reading.