Meliara, the young countess of Tlanth, could be a medieval Rizzo, one tough cookie in a land where women and girls fight, spy, run companies of military guards and battle with short swords. Plus, when she washes the caked dirt off of her thin little face and throws off her raggedy tunic, she reveals bright blue eyes, a tiny waist and knee-length hair ""not just brown, but brown and red and gold and wheat."" Mel, as her brother Bran calls her, lives in the hills in a crumbling castle. They promise their embittered dying father to rid the land of the greedy king, who in addition to imposing the usual kingly evils of high taxes and cruel minions, plans to break the sacred covenant with the teeny Hill Folk, who protect the great forests and bestow Fire Sticks. The rollicking plot and prickly Meliara's adventures as she stumbles into the clutches of King Galdran and the distant and unfathomable Marquis of Shevraeth create a fantasy world fit for the most discriminating medieval partisan. It cleverly walks just this side of parody, getting away with lines like, ""I wished I could personally flout him and his busy searchers, and make him look the fool he was."" Smith (Wren to the Rescue) leaves the reader hanging at the end of this book, all the better to await Book II in the projected series. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1997 Release date: 04/01/1997 Genre: Children's
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