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The Goose Girl: 10/11/22
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (2003) is the start of the Books of Bayern series. We bought the book shortly after moving into a condo. Although my husband read it and loved it eighteen years ago, this was my first stab at reading it.
It's a retelling of a Grimms' fairytale, one if I've read, I don't remember. Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, should be queen when her father dies after a riding accident. Instead her mother sends her to Bayern to marry the Crown Prince. Along the way she realizes her maid is trying to kill her and take her place, so she flees into the forest where she is befriended by an old woman.
Now here is where I grumble about being spoiled by stories that have come after this novel. Maybe, just maybe, had I read it in 2004 when we first bought it, I would have loved it. But in that time two stories have come to tell similar in tone tales of displaced royalty: the anime, Ranking of Kings and Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher (2022).
The princess finds work at the royal goose girl for the King of Bayern because she knows the language of birds. Through her ability to talk to horses she accidentally falls in love with her intended — though he doesn't reveal his identity until the end (of course) — and she's too naive or stupid to realize who the guy with the fancy horse is.
Except for the time when the princess was running for her life through an unfamiliar forest, I felt almost no sympathy or even basic connection to her. Beyond her talent to speak to animals, she's dumb as rocks. She succeeds because she's lucky more than anything else.
The second book in the series is Enna Burning (2004).