The Two Princesses of Bamarre is written by Gail Carson Levine, of Ella Enchanted fame. It was published in 2001 by HarperCollins. Levine’s website can be found here.
“The two princesses of Bamarre couldn’t be more different. Princess Addie is fearful and shy. Her deepest wish is for safety. Princess Meryl is bold and brave. Her deepest wish is to save the kingdom of Bamarre. They are sisters, and they mean the world to each other.
Then disaster strikes, and Addie—terrified and unprepared—sets out on a perilous quest. In her path are the monsters of Bamarre: ogres, specters, gryphons, and dragons. Addie must battle them, but times is running out, and the sisters’ lives—and Bamarre’s fate—hang in the balance.”
“Meryl understood me, although we were as different as could be. She was fair, and I was dark complexioned. She was small and compact, a concentration of focused energy. I was always tall for my age, and loose-limbed, and my energy was nervous and fluttery. Meryl was brave, and I was afraid of almost everything—from monsters to strangers to spiders.”
“Within the moldering,
Drualt’s living hand
Found the sword
Of long-dead hero
Arkule. Yune’s claws
Raked her festering pile
And almost plucked out Drualt’s
Keen right eye.
A claw found instead
Drualt’s scorched shoulder.
The dragon shrieked her triumph:
‘You’re mine now. Mine!
Mine to burn, mine to crisp,
Mine to kill.’
She lifted Drualt.
And on that upward journey
To his doom,
Drualt thrust Gore-gouger
Into Yune’s soft flesh
And plunged Arkule’s long
And ancient sword
Into Yune’s stony heart.”
Recommended Age Range: 12+
What I Liked:
This was a thoroughly fun book to read. The plot was obvious (except for one part of the ending that I honestly did not expect), but Levine takes the reader on a great journey along with Addie. All the standards of fantasy are in there, but there is still great originality as well. The poem segments about Drualt are great.
Addie is the type of heroine I love: shy and scared, who doesn’t want to go out adventuring but has to because of dire circumstances and comes back changed because of it. “Your sister could lead a charge, but you could last a siege,” a character tells her (I think it was Vollys). Hooray for siege-lasters!
Rhys, oh, Rhys. You’re adorable. Also, don’t think too much about the romance in the plot; if you do, you might get sad or squicked out or both. Just appreciate it for its cuteness and let it go at that.
What I Didn’t Like:
I didn’t like Meryl that much, to be honest. I don’t even know why. Maybe because I liked Addie so much that the contrast between her and Meryl cast Meryl in an unfavorable light to me. I have no idea.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre is an enjoyable book with a great heroine and a plot that, while obvious, is fun and even a little thrilling at times. Addie is fantastic and her encounter with Vollys is the best part of the book in my opinion. Gail Carson Levine delivers once again.
Coming Up Next: Flyte by Angie Sage