Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the... read more
Miri is a fourteen-year-old girl from Mt. Eskel, an isolated territory of Danland, who has never been allowed to work with the rest of the villagers in the quarry that keeps the community alive. Because of this, she feels like an outcast in the community and cut off from the culture focused... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Miri is a fourteen-year-old girl from Mt. Eskel, an isolated territory of Danland, who has never been allowed to work with the rest of the villagers in the quarry that keeps the community alive. Because of this, she feels like an outcast in the community and cut off from the culture focused around a shared working life in the quarry. As the quarry can barely cut enough linder (the main export) to feed the villagers, Miri keeps on trying to help. In spite of her feelings of isolation, Miri is very close to her father and her sister, Marda, and she shares a close friendship with a boy named Peder.
Unexpectedly, a messenger from the king arrives along with the usual traders from the lowlands. The messenger announces that the nation's priests have informed the nation that, despite the lack of education provided for the villagers and the prejudice that exists between the mountain villagers and the lowlanders, the crown prince's future bride will come from Mt. Eskel. A 'princess academy' is established near the village to train the potential princesses, with compulsory attendance for every girl aged between twelve and seventeen. At the end of the year, the prince will visit the academy and choose the girl to be the next princess.
Miri and the other girls attend the academy, and although they struggle to appease the strict teacher, Tutor Olana, Miri excels at learning and commerce. All the girls are eager to please the prince and win a comfortable life for themselves and their families, and Miri's new knowledge of commerce helps the village prosper in trading with the lowlanders. After a disagreement, the girls use their knowledge of diplomacy to negotiate a more bearable living arrangement with Tutor Olana, including weekly visits home. Miri also begins to explore the mechanics of quarry-speech, a form of unspoken communication used only in the quarry, and makes friends with some of the other girls, including Britta, a lowlander generally considered stuck up.
When the prince's visit arrives, Miri is crowned academy princess - although she is uncertain if she truly wants to marry the prince, as she has developed feelings for her childhood friend Peder. At the academy ball, the prince dances with every girl except Britta, who is ill, and generally acts very distant, but later in the evening he takes a walk with Miri and shows a more human side. However, he leaves without choosing a bride. Once the prince has left, promising to return in the spring to announce his choice, bandits attack the academy hoping to hold the new princess hostage. Miri must use her new knowledge of quarry speech to call for help from the village. At first no one seems to hear her, but eventually she is able to contact Peder. The villagers come to the academy through the blizzard, and the girls escape from the bandits and spend the winter at home with their families. In the spring, the prince returns and chooses to marry Britta - whom he knew when they were children - and names Mount Eskel an official province. The book ends with Peder and Miri admitting their feelings toward each other.
“Maybe it's hard to respect someone you're cheating.”Marde
“What should I say? That I like him so much it hurts?”Miri
“Twice Miri relaxed her hand in case he wanted to leave her, but he held on even tighter.”
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