|Submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org |
(Sep 23, 2009)
The book is about the two princesses of Bamarre could not be more different. Princess Addie is fearful and shy. Her deepest wish is for safety. Princess Meryl is bold and brave. Her deepest wish is to save the kingdom of Bamarre, most notably from the Gray Death. They are sisters, and they mean the world to each other.
Bamarre is plagued by a fatal disease called the Gray Death, which has three stages: Weakness, Sleep, and then Fever. While the weakness may last for hours or weeks, the sleep always lasts nine days, and the fever always lasts three. Bamarre also has Spectres, which lure travellers to their deaths unless exposed, sorcerers, ogres, dwarves, elves, gryphons, dragons, and fairies, although the latter have not been seen since Drualt, Bamarre's greatest hero and subject of an epic poem akin to Beowulf or Arthurian legend, went up to visit them after his sweetheart died and no one from a nearby town tried to help her.
Addie, along with Meryl and Bella, has begun a friendship with Rhys, the apprentice sorcerer helping her father, when Meryl is struck ill with the Gray Death. Addie has trouble coming to terms with the fact that Meryl is going to die, while Meryl tries in vain to prove Addie's theory that the Gray Death might be cured if the person who is ill refuses to be sick, running when weak, staying awake when tired, etc. Since a fabled prophecy from a spectre states that the Gray Death will be cured when "Cowards find courage and rain falls all over Bamarre," Addie convinces her cowardly father to seek out a cure and prays for rain. When the king returns just as cowardly as before and no clouds are in sight, Addie determines to find the cure herself. Using a pair of Seven-league boots and a magical spyglass from her deceased mother, a copy of Drualt, an invisibility cloak and magic tablecloth from Rhys, some of Milton's herbs and Meryl's sword, Addie successfully travels to the Mulee forest to find a Spectre, only to be tricked by one that took the form of Rhys. The real Rhys makes her realize the truth, and she learns from the Spectre that a dragon would be her best bet for finding the cure. Rhys has to leave for the Sorcerers' Citadel, but not before Addie realizes that there's more behind their friendship.
After accidentally overcoming a pack of gryphons with her tablecloth, Addie is found by the dragon Vollys and taken to her lair. Although dragons are solitary creatures, they are also lonely, so Addie is forced to entertain Vollys to avoid a fiery demise in Vollys' stomach. She does this through her embroidery, which is Addie's sole bold attribute. Although she is terrified of the dragon, she learns that Vollys is always sad when she eats her "guests" after they have angered her one time too many. Addie also learns the dragon version of Drualt's story, which portrays the hero as a villain who mercilessly kills noble dragons, including Vollys' mother. Vollys also tells Addie that the Gray Death came from her mother's corpse, a revenge for her death. Because she does not think Addie can escape, Vollys also tells Addie that the Gray Death can be cured by the water of a waterfall that flows from Mount Ziriat, the fairies' invisible mountain. She even tells Addie where the mountain is. Meanwhile, Addie learns through her telescope that Meryl has entered the Sleeping, and later Fever stage of the Gray Death.
Addie manages to escape Vollys with her boots, and returns to the castle. Rhys, Bella and Milton are there, and Meryl tells Addie that she has until the next dawn to live. Addie tells them about the cure, and she and Rhys fly Meryl to where Vollys told Addie the cure was. They end up outside the same village that refused to help Drualt's sweetheart due to their cowardice. Upon questioning, the isolated villagers say that although they have heard of the Gray Death, no one in the village has ever had it. The three also learn that all the villagers drink from a waterfall that comes from a mountain so tall and shrouded in mist that no one has ever seen it. Realizing that they are talking about Mount Ziriat, and the villagers are never sick because they drink the water, Rhys and the Princesses manage to find a few villagers courageous enough and willing to show them the waterfall, which is a few hours away, despite the dark night and the threat of ogres. While they walk, Rhys confesses his love to Addie, and she does the same. Just as they reach the waterfall, though, the party is attacked by ogres and an enraged Vollys. The sky begins to lighten, and Addie tells Meryl, who is having the time of her life in battle, to run to the water and drink. While she is running, though, Addie is caught by an ogre unexpectedly and screams. Meryl runs back to rescue her when the first rays of sunlight come, just as rain begins to fall, Addie is knock unconscious, Meryl falls to the ground, and shining beings fly down.
When Addie wakes up, she learns from Meryl, who seems different somehow, that they were rescued by fairies and taken to the top of the mountain. The rain had fallen everywhere, curing all with the Gray Death except those it was too late to save. When Addie gained the courage to save her sister, and when the cowardly villagers redeemed themselves by helping Meryl and Addie, the fairies made water from their mountain fall all over Bamarre. Bella and Milton are there, and she learns that Rhys is also all right, but is wounded and needs to rest. Meryl also tells Addie that she, too, was one of those on the brink of death when the rain came, and so the fairies could not truly save her. However, they offered to turn her into a fairy and join them in a battle against fearsome, monstrous creatures, the outcome of which affecting the world below. Meryl accepted the offer, and is now a fairy, unable to return with Addie. However, Meryl is now with Drualt, who was also transformed after leaving Bamarre, and Addie discovers that he had been the presence Addie felt in her darkest hours, cheering her up and giving her the strength to go on.
Rhys and Addie marry and live happily ever after, with Meryl as Fairy Godmother to their children, the first in hundreds of years.