I cut all day and I squared all night Princess Academy
And I thought I'd mined the mountain's might
Then I saw all my work by the bright dawn light
The mountain was the world and my labor a mite
is a young adult novel by Shannon Hale
, author of The Goose Girl
and Enna Burning.
It tells the story of a 14-year-old mountain girl named Miri, who lives in a small village with her father and older sister on the slopes of Mount Eskel. The villagers make their living mining linder, a type of stone that is hard enough to hold up great palaces and never crack, yet light enough to haul long distances.
One day, a messenger from the king comes to Mount Eskel to declare that all the girls aged 12-18 in the village must attend the titular "princess academy" to prepare for the day when one of them will be the prince's bride. Miri must compete with all the other girls for the chance to marry the prince, but she discovers that maybe there are other things better than being a princess.
Six years after the original novel, Hale released the sequel, Palace of Stone.
A third book in the series, currently titled Dragonfly Sisters,
is expected in 2015.
This novel contains examples of:
- Alpha Bitch: Katar.
Miri: I'm glad you spoke up or we could still be standing out here waiting.
Katar: I'm a better diplomat than you and everyone knows it. It should've been me talking. Too bad for you that academy princess isn't based on who everyone likes best.
- Ass in Ambassador: The chief delegate.
- Barefoot Poverty: The poor are literally called the shoeless.
- Break the Haughty: Katar gets doses of this.
- Chekhov's Armory: Of note is the linder hawk that Peder gives to Miri which helps her to defeat Dan. See Improbable Weapon User below.
- City Mouse: Britta.
- Cool Big Sis: Frid and Marda.
- Costume Porn: The descriptions of the dresses the girls get to wear for the ball. Case in point —
Miri had never seen silk before, but she had read that it was the linder of cloth, and when the seamstress pulled a silk scarf from her bag, Miri could see why. It was heavy with brilliant colors swirled into a pattern of flowers yet shimmered secretly, like water under a crescent moon.
- Death by Childbirth: This and an earlier linder quarry accident did in Miri's Missing Mom.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Katar.
- Dishing Out Dirt: In Palace of Stone, the girls manage to quarry-speech the palace linder into cracking and falling on an assassin.
- Disney Villain Death: Dan.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Miri.
- Everything's Better With Princesses: Duh.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Averted. Muskets and pistols show up in Palace of Stone.
- First Guy Wins: Peder gets the girl.
- Five Woman Band:
- Fisher Kingdom: Staying in Mount Eskel, particularly being exposed to it's linder, is what makes quarry-speech possible. It's also why the king's wing is built out of linder.
- Fish out of Water: Britta doesn't adapt well to mountain life.
- Food Porn: The descriptions of the royal food at the ball's banquet. Try not to drool while reading them.
- Girl Posse: Bena and Liana could be interpreted as this for Katar.
- Happily Adopted: Britta is arguably adopted by Mount Eskel, finding a happier home there than in the lowland and later renounces her noble title.
- Holding Hands: Both platonically and romantically.
- I Am Spartacus: All the girls claim to be the prince's betrothed to stop the robbers from making off with just one of them.
- Improbable Weapon User: Miri's linder hawk
- Kangaroo Court:Miri says that a commoner can challenge a noble in court. She's then shown that in every case the noble has won, and the reasons given range from very flimsy to outright saying that the noble must be right because commoners are untrustworthy.
- Large and in Charge: Applies to both Katar (tall and older than most of the other girls) and Dan (large and imposing).
- The Load: For most of the book, Miri thinks she's this because her father has never allowed her to work in the linder quarry.
- Meaningful Name: Miri is named after a mountain flower.
- Missing Mom: Miri.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: At the academy, Britta pretends that she can't read, but later it's revealed that she can.
- Princesses Prefer Pink: The academy princess dress, while mostly silver, is accented with pink ribbons and rosebuds.
- Promotion to Parent: Miri takes over her mother's duties after her death. She didn't have much choice anyway — her father refused to let her work in the quarry.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Nearby Rilamark fell prey to this, with the commoners executing each and every royal or noble they could get their hands on. Danland almost goes the same way.
- Royal School
- Sadist Teacher: Olana. She gets better.
- Second Place Is for Winners: Miri doesn't get the prince, but this allows her to stay on her mountain home with her childhood friend Peder, where she feels she really belongs.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: All of the girls clean up nicely to meet Prince Steffan.
- Shorter Means Smarter: Miri is the shortest girl in the class, but is the first to master the textbooks.
- The Stoic: Prince Steffan.
- Telepathy: Probably the closest way to describe quarry-speech. It sends out a message, which nudges any nearby memories or feelings.
- Victorious Childhood Friend: Peder for Miri and Steffan for Britta.
- Well Done Daughter Girl: Miri and Katar.
- Where The Hell Is Springfield?: It would appear that the story is set somewhere in Northern Europe, but the reader is never told exactly where.