Princess Una of Parumvir has come of age and will soon be married. She dreams of a handsome and charming prince, but when the first suitor arrives, she finds him stodgy and boring. Prince Aethelbald from the mysterious land of Farthestshore has traveled far to prove his love–and also to bring hushed warnings of danger. A dragon is rumored to be approaching Parumvir.
Una, smitten instead with a more dashing prince, refuses Aethelbald’s offer–and ignores his warnings. Soon the Dragon King himself is in Parumvir, and Una, in giving her heart away unwisely, finds herself in grave danger. Only those courageous enough to risk everything have a hope of fighting off this advancing evil.
I don’t often read fantasy allegory, but my goodness, Anne Elisabeth Stengl can write it with twists like few others! It did take me a few chapters to get used to the rather unusual and complex fantasy world, as well as her use of omniscient narrative. But once I did, I couldn’t put it down.
The world of Goldstone wood is one of the most complex and layered storyworlds I have ever come across in fantasy. It is huge and ever-expanding with so much more depth, and history, and characters that you could believe – or sometimes keep track of! Each book in the series is better than the last!
Anne Elisabeth’s unusual writing style is reminiscent of older classic fairy tales, though a bit difficult to get used to at first, but hang in there! Because once you catch onto her unique and beautiful style it is one incredible ride and well worth the time.
(Warning! Slight personal rant ahead!)
One thing I really don’t understand is, why do so many people hate Una? I think some folks just don’t like her because she’s a little too real. Yes, she’s selfish, she’s stubborn, she’s a dreamer, always looking for something newer, brighter, more appealing. She’s totally unsatisfied and missing out on the good and wonderful things (and people) that are right under her nose.
She’s just like you and me.
Some of us really don’t like to see that. So many folks go out complaining about how much they dislike unrealistic characters in there books, then an author like Anne goes out and creates a realistic character with all the same normal faults that we have. So what do we do? We complain some more and criticize the heck out of that character. It’s really hard looking in a mirror sometimes.
Personally, I love Una. And I love how Anne Elisabeth breathes life into these beautiful, broken characters. Her characters may be far from perfect, and their endings may be too, but in the end, that is what makes their story so much more meaningful.
Here, Una is a representation of the modern day church and its many faults. It is a story about how God pursues us relentlessly, calling us back to him, and to show that no matter how vile we can become God still loves us and is waiting to claim us as his.
How incredible is that?
My Rating: Five Flames
Heat Advisory: note, this is also an older review being re-written. It has been a few years since read the novel. I may not remember everything.
Romance: a sweet kiss or two.
Language: none. Unless you count exclamations such as “Dragon’s Breath / teeth/ whatnot!” as bad language.
Drinking / Drugs: There was some dinner wine.
Blood / Violence: there is plenty of violence, though the author does keep things tasteful. blood is fairly minimal. There are several battles, deaths, people being burned by dragons (not graphic), imprisonment, and such.
Other: there is a bit of magic in this book, but no “spellcasting” or anything of the like. And the villain also does love playing some slightly twisted mind games with the people he’s after.
Author Facebook page: Anne Elisabeth Stengl