As it is the duchess and the other women who save the day when the proud duke's castle is besieged by his stubborn king, this might be of interest to librarians looking for feminist-oriented folktales, but otherwise the story and pictures are undistinguished. Miffed by no specified offense except general contrariness, the king sets out to teach the duke a lesson and the country folk on the duke's lands take refuge in the castle. As the battle goes on the food dwindles, the duke and his men refuse to surrender, and the king threatens to burn down the castle but grants the duchess' request that -- when the women and children evacuate according to custom -- each woman carry out the thing she treasures most. Thus the men too escape, on their ladies' backs -- though readers might wonder why they'd agree to this but not to surrender, and why the king and his soldiers would cheer the cleverness of the trick and treat them ""with honor"" thereafter. The book's chief problem though is not the story, which could work nicely if vitalized by imaginative pictures, but the lifeless illustrations, which seem tiresomely alike even though different facets of medieval life are depicted in each. All are seen from the same perspective and dominated by solid dark colors (olive green and brown, relieved only by some rust and spots of blue) which impart a heavy dullness to the pages and merely emphasize the sketchy sameness of the many faces.