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I cut all day and I squared all night
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
Princess Academy 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.
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.
- Chekhov's Gun: The linder hawk that Peder gives to Miri helps her to defeat Dan. See Improbable Weapon User below.
- 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.
- Disney Villain Death: Dan.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Miri.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Duh.
- Five Woman Band:
- 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.
- Hair of Gold: Peder
- Improbable Weapon User: Miri's linder hawk
- 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 duities after her death. She didn't have much choice anyway -- her father refused to let her work in the quarry.
- Sadist Teacher: Olana. She gets better.
- Shorter Means Smarter: Miri.
- The Stoic: Prince Steffan.
- Not So Stoic: Underneath that princely shell.
- 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.
- The Woobie: Katar after the girls vote for Miri instead of her to be academy princess.