Princess Alia is a gifted pianist, and also the heir to the crown of the kingdom of Blue Sky. Her kingdom has been at war for twelve years, and it has just ended.
On the day after her sixteenth birthday, Princess Alia discovers she's being given away in marriage to a man she's never met. For her safety, she's got to travel in secret, disguised as a chicken farmer's daughter, to the kingdom of Yonder. She's about to get an education she never imagined.
This is a Ruritanian fantasy, set in two imaginary European countries. It never pretends to be anything that it's not. The prince she is betrothed to is Prince Ron. Along the way, she encounters giants, dwarves, and gnomes. She crosses a swamp that's a special kind of trap for the unwary, and a meadow that's a magical respite.
For all these fantasy elements, and the lack of pretense in many of the details that this story is in any way realistic, the pampered Alia gets an excellent education in the real world of the lower classes of the two kingdoms, and Alia, Ron, and many of the characters around them are likable and interesting. It's an enjoyable story, and while there's certainly a message, it's in no way heavy-handed or overbearing.
A very pleasant interlude. Recommended for those who enjoy likable characters, "clean" romance, and are freewheeling enough to enjoy the Ruritanian aspects of this one.
I think I bought this book. I don't always remember, when I have put a book aside for a few weeks before I bring it to the top. Regardless, I am reviewing it voluntarily.