Book of a Thousand Days
Book of a Thousand Days
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Annotation: Fifteen-year-old Dashti, sworn to obey her sixteen-year-old mistress, the Lady Saren, shares Saren's years of punishment locked in a tower, then brings her safely to the lands of her true love, where both must hide who they are as they work as kitchen maids.
Catalog Number: #41253
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Inventory Sale Inventory Sale
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition Date: 2009
Illustrator: Smith, James Noel,
Pages: 305 pages
Availability: Available (Limited Quantities Available / While Supplies Last)
ISBN: Publisher: 1-599-90378-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-41144-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-599-90378-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-41144-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2006036999
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
A rousing, even spellbinding tale—with outlines in the Grimms' Maid Maleen—is set in medieval Mongolia and told in journal form. Dashti is maid and scribe to Lady Saren, whose father has bricked both of them in a tower for Saren's crime of refusing to be married to vicious lord Khasar. Dashti knows healing songs from the steppes, and she needs them, as Saren is what we would now call schizophrenic. The girls' captivity is eased at first by visits of the Khan Tegus, but the Khasar visits, too, and threatens to burn the tower with them inside. The rats that have eaten their food supply also tunnel a way out, so they escape—and find Saren's father's city destroyed. They make their way to Khan Tegus, where both girls serve hidden in his kitchen. Dashti's healing songs are needed in a war between Khasar and Tegus, and who she is, and who they are, come forth in a strongly presented climax. Dashti's voice is bright and true; Hale captures her sturdy personality, Saren's mental fragility and Khan Tegus's romantic warrior as vibrantly as she limns the stark terror of the Mongolian cold and the ugly spirit from which Khasar draws his strength. (Fantasy. 12-15)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Hale's novelization of the relatively obscure Grimm Brothers' fairy tale "Maid Maleen" is quite an improvement over the original. Rather than merely adding flesh to the Grimms' skeleton, the author has taken a few of the prominent bones (a love match thwarted by an autocratic king, the princess and her maid condemned to a tower for seven years, the country a wasteland when they finally escape) and constructed a new and far more appealing body. Lady Saren loves Khan Tegus, who rules a lesser realm, and she refuses to marry the evil man whom her father has chosen for her for political gains. The narrator, Dashti, is the princess's maid, immured in the tower almost as soon as she's found employment in the royal household. Bound to obey her mistress, Dashti is ordered to speak in her place when Tegus comes calling on their prison. Many readers will guess how that will eventually turn out, but they won't predict how Dashti and Tegus will overcome physical, political, and social obstacles to recognize their mutual love and defy convention in order to marry. Hale has created a richly imagined, mythical land something like medieval Mongolia, replete with magical song and touch therapy for spiritual or corporeal ailments, intuitive animals, and a sort of Faustian werewolf. It's a highly successful romance.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 5-9-Hale's novelization of the relatively obscure Grimm Brothers' fairy tale "Maid Maleen" is quite an improvement over the original. Rather than merely adding flesh to the Grimms' skeleton, the author has taken a few of the prominent bones (a love match thwarted by an autocratic king, the princess and her maid condemned to a tower for seven years, the country a wasteland when they finally escape) and constructed a new and far more appealing body. Lady Saren loves Khan Tegus, who rules a lesser realm, and she refuses to marry the evil man whom her father has chosen for her for political gains. The narrator, Dashti, is the princess's maid, immured in the tower almost as soon as she's found employment in the royal household. Bound to obey her mistress, Dashti is ordered to speak in her place when Tegus comes calling on their prison. Many readers will guess how that will eventually turn out, but they won't predict how Dashti and Tegus will overcome physical, political, and social obstacles to recognize their mutual love and defy convention in order to marry. Hale has created a richly imagined, mythical land something like medieval Mongolia, replete with magical song and touch therapy for spiritual or corporeal ailments, intuitive animals, and a sort of Faustian werewolf. It's a highly successful romance.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

Hale (River Secrets) delivers another winning fantasy, this time inventively fleshing out the obscure Grimm tale, Maid Maleen, through the expressive and earthy voice of Dashti, maid to Lady Saren. A plucky and resourceful orphan, Dashti comes from a nomad tribe in a place resembling the Asian Steppes, and is brought to the Lady's house in the midst of a crisis. Lady Saren, having refused to marry the powerful but loathsome Lord her father has chosen, faces seven years' imprisonment in an unlit tower. Initially, Dashti believes her worth is tied to her ability to care for her “tower-addled” lady until she can join Khan Tegus, to whom she is secretly betrothed. When the gentle Tegus comes to the tower, Dashti must step in for her traumatized lady, speaking to him as Saren through the one tiny metal door. Hale exploits the diary form to convey Dashti's perspective; despite her self-effacing declaration that “I draw this from memory so it won't be right,” the entries reflect her genuinely spirited inner life. The tension between her unstinting loyalty and patience and burgeoning realization of her own strength and feelings for Tegus feels especially authentic. Readers will be riveted as Dashti and Saren escape and flee to the Khan's realm where, through a series of deceptions, contrivances and a riotously triumphant climax, the tale spins out to a thoroughly satisfying ending. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* The author of the Newbery Honor Book Princess Academy (2005) offers another captivating fantasy filled with romance, magic, and strong female characters. The story, based on a little-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, takes place in an imagined ancient Central Asia. Orphaned Dashti is a hardworking, pragmatic girl, who grew up in the open, windswept steppes. She finds work in the city with a young noblewoman, Lady Saren. Then Lady Saren refuses an advantageous marriage, and as punishment, she and Dashti are sentenced to seven years in a sealed tower. A tiny window is the tower's only connection to the outside world, and it's there that Saren's two suitors, the terrifying Khasar and the handsome Tegus, come calling. Written in diary form in Dashti's voice, the gripping tale follows the two young women through their imprisonment and their escape into a grim world of warring societies. Readers will quickly embrace Dashti, an invincible storybook heroine with a healer's touch, who accomplishes battlefield heroics while nurturing a powerful, secret love for a lord. Fans of Gail Carson Levin's Fairest (2006) will embrace this similar mix of exotic, fully realized setting; thrilling, enchanted adventure; and heart-melting romance.
Voice of Youth Advocates
Dashti, a fifteen-year-old peasant girl from the Central Asian steppes, documents her time in service to Lady Saren through journal entries. When Saren, sixteen, refuses her father's choice of bridegroom, her father locks both girls in an isolated tower with provisions for seven years. Dashti's earlier life in the steppes has prepared her to live with hardships, and she is able to care for Saren until the food runs out. After nearly three years in the tower, Dashti finds a way out, and the two girls discover that the kingdom is in ruins and that they have been forgotten. They journey to the next kingdom, and disguised, find work in the household of Saren's beloved, where Dashti's resourcefulness and talents blossom into initiative and leadership. The story is based loosely on Maid Maleen from the Brothers Grimm. As with her other books, Hale creates a female character who succeeds because of her intelligence, integrity and hard work, and who is eventually rewarded for it. Dashti, relying on her upbringing on the steppes, appears educated and independent, in contrast to Saren's helplessness as a member of the nobility. It is a refreshing change from the typical princess story, and a nod to democracy. Smith's illustrations enhance the story, which is well-written and fast-paced, and which will captivate readers.-Jenny Ingram.
Word Count: 61,954
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 117766 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.5 / points:16.0 / quiz:Q41855
Lexile: 850L
Guided Reading Level: W
Fountas & Pinnell: W

When Lady Saren refuses to marry a man she fears, she and her maid, Dashti, are locked in a tower with just a tiny flap open to the outside world. As food runs low and the weather changes from broiling hot to unbearably cold, it is all Dashti can do to make them comfortable in their dark prison. Not long after their confinement begins, Saren's suitors arrive-one welcome, the other less so-and she orders Dashti to speak to them. Impersonating Lady Saren is a crime punishable by death, but Dashti will have to play the role many times if she is to save them both from the tower and the dangers outside. As she takes control of their desperate situation, Dashti begins to understand her own astonishing talents and believe that even a low-born maid can find true love.


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