Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
The Mongolian steppe is no place for a woman to be alone. Dashti has been alone since the death of her mother and knows that as an orphan she needs to seek employment in the city. In the harsh environment of the steppe, people need to work together to survive. Dashti journeys to the city and learns to read and write as she trains to become a servant for the gentry.
On the day she meets her new employer, Lady Saren, Dashti finds out that her Lady is sentenced to seven years of confinement in a tower for refusing to marry Khan Khasar by her own father. At first Dashti is happy that she will have a place to stay and solid meals to eat but as the months go on she misses the sky and the fresh air. Rats infiltrate their food supply and her mistress’s episodes of sadness make Dashti wonder if they will survive the seven years in the tower.
Lady Saren has two suitors who visit her while she is in the tower. Unable to speak on her own, Saren orders Dashti to speak for her to her suitors. Khan Tegus gives them hope with his kind words and presents. However he seems to disappear when a second suitor, Khan Khasar visits the tower. Khan Khasar is the incarnation of evil and Dashti understands why her lady has refused to marry him. Grateful that they are safe from him in their tower, the two women are lulled into a false sense of security.
Will Dashti and Saren survive seven years in solitary confinement? Will someone come to save them? Will Khasar break into the tower and have Lady Saren? Will Lady Saren’s father have a change of heart and let them out? To find out read Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale.
Shannon Hale tells a familiar tale from a different perspective. Instead of Rapunzel letting down her hair so that her suitor may visit her, the lady in this story shies away from the attention of men. Dashti’s intelligence and independence makes her a great role model for young women. I’m a sucker for historical fiction and folktales and Shannon Hale masterfully intertwines the two to create a wonderful story. Be sure to catch this one when it’s out in September 2007.