As a coming-of-age story, this one deals with the usual themes of rebellion, acceptance, love, honor, duty and pleasure, along with a dragon or two thrown into the mix. A lot of the familiar elements from fantasy are here—damsels in distress, dangerous dragons, , magical spells, menacing fey folk—but this princess is a lady of a different sort, yearning for a life far away from home…only to learn that running away from home can cause more problems than it solves.

At first, I found myself both impatient with and sorry for Princess Mathilda. She was born with a splayed foot and pigeon toes. But that’s really the least of her troubles, although it takes her a while to see it. However, I grew more and more admiring of her as she fearlessly sought her destiny and applauded her for dealing with the various vicissitudes along the way. Her companion Judith is no less winning. (Lord Parzifal, however, suffers from being a little too obsessed with ancient battles and weapons; he narrowly avoids becoming a big fat bore.)

Mathilda learns to adapt to her situations, sometimes with honesty, sometimes with guile, always with determination. She’s truly a heroine to admire.

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