The latest entry in Friesner’s Princesses of Myth series shifts scene but not much else.
Like her royal equivalents in previous volumes (Nobody’s Princess, 2007, etc.), beautiful, tempestuous Maeve, youngest daughter of Eochu Feidlech, High King of Eriu, goes through childhood and adolescence, learning the value and perils of being a princess while fighting for the freedom to shape her own destiny instead of knuckling under to expectations linked to her sex and place. To viewers of the 2012 film Brave this will read like a spinoff—centered on a willful lass with: wild red hair; three identical little brothers; an indulgent but tradition-minded royal father perched precariously atop a warrior society; a brisk way with her many suitors; the raw courage to tackle massively larger animals (here, a huge bull and, later, a savage wolfhound); and an unconquerable yen to be free. Unlike Princess Merida, though, Maeve’s pride remains intact as she grows to be an astute student of politics and human psychology. In the wake of engineering a daring rescue of a captured bard, can she find a way in the end to chart her own course without alienating her father?
A comfortably formulaic prelude to a projected sequel that will likewise be spun from some of the oldest surviving Irish legends. (afterword, pronunciation guide) (Fantasy. 11-14)