Okay, I've been putting this off until I could choose a book to start off with, and now I've finally decided to review one of my favorite books first. :]
Alright, for starters, I've created my own rating system to rank books by. I created the image myself, and I will call them "Jacks." The symbol below will be used, with one being the worst and five being the best. On to the review.
Many of you know Gail Carson Levine for her novel Ella Enchanted, but I knew her first for her novel The Two Princesses of Bamarre. Cleverly crafted sub-reality, relatable characters, fantasy and romance - this novel has it all. Since the first time I opened the front cover to the present, I've read this novel 7 times. I've had to buy a second copy of the book and am now in search of my third because the binding is literally falling apart. I've gotten to the point now where I can open the book to any page in the book and tell you what happened before, what is happening on the current page and what will happen next. Can you tell that I love this book?
Opening with the first stanza of Drualt, the epic poem telling the life of Bamarre's greatest hero, Levine sets up her readers for a truly enthralling world that they had better be prepared for. I was and still am easily ensnared into the plot and characters, told from the perspective of the younger princess, Addie. The Princesses Meryl and Addie are polar opposites of one another - Addie is dark-complexioned and frightened by the world around her, while Meryl is fair and fearless, determined to fulfill the prophecy of her country and find the cure to the Gray Death. The Gray Death plagues the land of Bamarre, striking at random and leaving behind no survivors. There is a specific time frame over which the disease takes its course - the Weakness, which lasts for an indeterminable amount of days, the Sleep, which lasts for nine days, and the Fever, which lasts for three days and ends in death.
When Meryl, the brave older sister set on fulfilled the prophecy, contracts the mysterious illness, Addie must step up and set aside her fears to save her sister. She faces many dangers, from Ogres and Gryphons, the lesser of evils, to Specters and Dragons, dangerous and cunning creatures full of trickery. With the help of the castle's sorceror apprentice, Rhys, she uses a magic tablecloth that spontaenously creates enough food for whomever beckons its help.
Addie survives many perils, and in her sister's final hour, she takes her to the waterfall that spills from the Fairy Kingdom that is rumored to cure the Gray Death. Before what they know will be an unsure victory, Rhys pulls Addie aside and confesses the love for her he has harbored over the years of his apprenticeship. Addie reciprocates and the pair enter the valley of the falls, prepared for anything. In an outstanding battle that threatens tears in each reader's eyes, the crew of Addie, Rhys, Meryl and several men and women from the neighboring village fight to fulfill the prophecy and save Bamarre.
They succeed, and as the rains fall over the lands, the Gray Death dies out. Meryl however, is not saved, but made into a fairy much to Addie's dismay. In her eyes, she has failed. Meryl will never get her adventures and will never again be human. But Meryl sees it differently - she will be Addie's children's fairy godmother, and while invisible to human eyes will still be a part of Addie's life. When Addie finally accepts this, Rhys comes to find her. The two are married in the fairy realm, and soon after return the world below. It's hard to leave Meryl behind, but Addie understands that her sister will always be there, lingering though not seen.
There is so much more to this book and I recommend it to anyone that enjoys fantasy novels. Gail Carson Levine takes my breath away with this masterpiece of a novel. I laughed, cried, gasped and sighed with every emotion that Addie feels. I could go on forever about this book, so I'll stop here, but if anyone has any questions or wants to discuss this book, I am definitely up for it.
I give The Two Princesses of Bamarre FIVE Jacks. :]
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