A Posse of Princesses, by Sherwood Smith, was published in 2008 by Norilana Books.
Rhis, princess of a small kingdom, is invited along with all the other princesses in her part of the world to the coming of age party of the Crown Prince of Vesarja, which is the central and most important kingdom. When Iardith, the prettiest and most perfect of all the princesses, is abducted, Rhis and her friends go to the rescue. What happens to Rhis and her posse has unexpected results not only for the princesses, but for the princes who chase after them. Everyone learns a lot about friendship and hate, politics and laughter, romantic ballads and sleeping in the dirt with nothing but a sword for company. But most all they learn about the many meanings of love.
Its summary may be a little cringe-worthy, but A Posse of Princesses, though trope-y in places and confusing in others, is a delightful little fantasy. Rhis is one of the character types that I prefer in fantasies, and the princesses she meets are memorable and stand out in their own way rather than melding into one group. The characters—at least, the women—are great, although some of the rest of the book is not.
I thought the worldbuilding was confusing; a lot of places and names are mentioned and some important bits are thrown out near the end of the novel, which results in even more confusion. The first half of the book reads very much like a love story, while the second half changes into a magical, dangerous adventure story. It’s a little jarring, especially since the second half introduces some concepts that definitely should have been mentioned beforehand or at least foreshadowed, but it does break up the monotony that the first half falls into at times.
I also didn’t much care for all the obvious tropes, especially the one involving Lios. I was looking forward to the tension that would arise from Rhis’s obvious attraction to a man of lesser rank, but then, as with most fantasies, the author had to make it easy for her and completely dissolved that tension with an overused trope. I suppose it was done well, but all the same—a bit obvious, and groan-inducing when the reader figures it out.
A Posse of Princesses is a good fantasy, but it also doesn’t have any real stand-outs besides its fun characters. I liked the book enough to get more by Sherwood Smith, but there are other one-shot fantasies of this ilk that I read again over this one.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Warnings: A small amount of violence.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Rhis realized that the scribe and the moody princess had established a good understanding, and she spoke on impulse. “Have you duties to attend to?”
Dandiar’s face was suddenly blank, his voice very polite. “You are inviting me to go find some?”
Rhis felt her neck go hot. “No! Opposite! I was hoping, well, that you might want to sit with us. You know all about our kingdoms, and you talk so easily with—uh, others—” She realized she was rambling awfully, and thought with an inward wince of Elda’s disapproval at her utter lack of grace and pose. Now not just her face burned, but her ears and neck. Ugh!