Shannon Hale is known for her creative fairy tale novelizations. This one is an adaptation of Grimm's Maid Maleen. It's quite obvious from the start how it's all going to go, but the journey was fairly enjoyable. I particularly liked the twist of setting the story in a sort of mythic medieval Mongolia-like civilization. I liked the character of Dashti, though she follows the Hale character pattern to a T- a girl with some sort of disadvantage (in this case low social status and a slight physical abnormality) triumphs over all via her kindness and courage. Dashti is sometimes a bit of a Mary Sue, but mostly she is a pleasant character to follow. I thought the big 'surprise' plot twist regarding Lord Khasar was fairly lame and predictable. However, one thing I can't fault Hale for is her portrayal of tender and positive female friendships. I wish it wasn't so rare as to be notable, but it is and I applaud Hale for doing it! All in all, I'm not Hale's biggest fan, but I do appreciate what she does and I know there is a big audience for her books.