Welcome back to First Lines!
Shannon Hale blew me away with her debut novel, The Princess Academy, and though I haven't had as much time to read until this year, I've kept track of her and what she's been penning. I will say, the title of the book we're talking about today didn't draw me in and I think the reason why is that it doesn't sound like the story it is enclosing.
Book of a Thousand Days is a re-imagining (broadly) of an ancient Eastern tale -- Mongolia, a princess and a serving maid, an evil warlord (who just might not be entirely human) and the problem of status in a land where pretending to be someone you're not might end in death.
The cover and title made me think it was something along the lines of American history and, frankly, I don't read much of that any more (having consumed a shockingly high number of American historical novels growing up). So...I guess the lesson here is, "Don't judge a book by its cover and/or title"? (Although if I'd seen the other covers, I might have picked it up sooner!)
And now, without further ado, let us peek into the life of one Dashti, serving maid to a lady of high standing:
"My lady and I are being shut up in a tower for seven years.
Lady Saren is sitting on the floor, staring at the wall, and hasn't moved even to scratch for an hour or more. Poor thing. It's a shame I don't have fresh yak dung or anything strong-smelling to scare the misery out of her.
The men are bricking up the door, and I hear them muttering and scraping cement. Only a small square of unbricked sky and light still gape at me. I smile back at its mean grin to show I'm not scared. Isn't it something, all this trouble they're going to for us? I feel like a jewel in a treasure box, though my lady is the --
My lady suddenly awoke from her stupor and sprang at the door, clawing at the bricks, trying to shove her way out. How she screamed! Like an angry piglet."
-- from Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Reasons to Read:
1. Um...shut in a tower for seven years? I must see how this turns out.
2. Who is Lady Saren? Why is she being shut up in a tower?
3. Fresh yak dung? To "scare away" misery? What other crazy beliefs does this serving-maid have??
4. I like this serving-maid -- she grins back at something scary. She's strong.
5. I can just picture the Lady screaming like a piglet. I'm...giggling, although I know they're in danger!
This book sucked me right in and I read the entire story in one sitting (I even took it to a friend's house to finish it...yeah, I'm that friend).
Does the unnamed narrator's story tug at your curiosity?
Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday -- with a review!