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A Posse of Princesses    by Sherwood Smith order for
Posse of Princesses
by Sherwood Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Norilana, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In A Posse of Princesses, Sherwood Smith (one of my favorite authors of both adult and YA fantasy) brings readers a boys-meet-girls romp set in a fantastic world, involving a variety of cultures, and where magic is occasionally invoked. As always, Smith explores the feelings involved in first love with great empathy.

We meet Rhis, princess of Nym, a small and very wealthy (its economy based on rich gem mines) mountain kingdom, as she chafes under the excessive mentoring of her sister-in-law Elda. Rhis is not interested in studying laws and rates of exchange as Elda is. She'd rather spend her time in her tower haven, where she loves to 'sit and read and dream', play her tiranthe, and try to 'write wonderful ballads' about exciting adventures and finding one's True Love.

Adventure begins for Rhis with an invitation to attend the coming of age party of Lios, Crown Prince of Vesarja. Young women of high rank have been invited from all the surrounding realms, so that the prince can get to know them. Before Rhis leaves, her mage sister Sidal gives her a magical ring so that Rhis can call on her in case of trouble. En route, she is joined by - and quickly befriends - Elda's flirtatious sister Shera.

When they arrive at Eskanda they find handsome Lios being monopolized by perfect princess Iardith. As Rhis is courted by a nobleman interested in her family's wealth, she enjoys spending time with Dandiar, an ordinary scribe who is close to Lios. Rhis is also kind to several young women on the fringes, who are looked down on by Iardith's set. As the young people enjoy the continual festivities, Rhis emerges as a leader.

When Iardith is abducted, Rhis and friends ride after her to prevent scandal and war. Engaged in all the adventure and romance that she has longed for, Rhis learns that nothing - including her own potential for magic - is what it seemed. A Posse of Princesses is great fun, perfect for middle school readers.

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