Thorn: Dauntless Path, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Hunted meets The Wrath and the Dawn in this bold fairy-tale retelling - where court intrigue, false identities, and dark secrets will thrill fans of classic and contemporary fantasy alike.
Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life, but when her mother betroths her to a powerful prince in a distant kingdom, she has little hope for a better future.
Until Alyrra arrives at her new kingdom, where a mysterious sorceress robs her of both her identity and her role as princess - and Alyrra seizes on the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.
But as Alyrra uncovers dangerous secrets about her new world, including a threat to the prince himself, she knows she can’t remain silent forever. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds, and ultimately must decide who she is and what she stands for.
Originally self-published as an ebook and now brought to life with completely revised text, Thorn also features an additional short story set in-world, "The Bone Knife".
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|Listening Length||14 hours and 30 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||March 24, 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #63,189 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#267 in Epic Fantasy for Teens
#500 in Teen & Young Adult Fairy Tale & Folklore Adaptations
#824 in Teen & Young Adult Fiction on Girls' & Women's Issues (Books)
Reviewed in the United States on April 14, 2021
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Top reviews from the United States
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I bought it awhile back and read it now via my Kindle AP without bothering to look at the blurb or title, so I couldn't quite remember what it was or why I'd bought it. Love the the cover though which screams middle-eastern fantasy, so I went in with high hopes.
My hopes were quickly dashed. Nothing about this felt middle eastern to me at all. The world was very standard European Medieval fantasy in every way. When traveling, the protag even eats the standard, bread, hard cheese, meat, and dried fruit (which has become one of those fantasy elements so overused that it always makes me laugh - checked that cliche box!). This was hugely disappointing. I wanted the middle eastern (or at least non-European) elements and didn't see much except for maybe the men's clothing.
My tween daughter said that it was too much like Hale's Goose Girl and it wasn't good enough to stand up to that book (I read Goose Girl too long ago to remember, but I suppose if they are both retellings then it makes sense they are similar).
I liked the opening chapters. The writing is solid even if it tends to ramble around and repeat itself. The protag is a Cinderella archetype (deeply injured and trampled on by evil family members and in need of being rescued, which she is a lot). It drew me in. For a while this was a three star book. Predictable but fun for younger kids.
After the opening, it started to fall apart for me. The protag is So, So, So, So a Mary Sue. Everyone loves her (except those people too internally evil to do so, who of course hate her or are suspicious of her). She is so kind and good and honorable and nice to the woe-begotten that after a while it made me like her less rather than more. It also fed the predictability. Put her in a scene, ask what the kind-hearted (at times wimpy) solution to the problem is, and there you have what will happen. She whines a lot about how powerless she is as well and how she just wants to be poor rather than deal with the court. The whining was super repetitive for the middle part of the book. She's also very inactive for most of the book. She's got all these problems and I want to beat her over the head with a squawking goose to stop whining and go DO something (on those rare occasions when she does act, she finds simple solutions that none of the more experienced or older characters do. Which made everyone else in the land seem kind of stupid rather than her smart.)
And conversely, the evil was also so evil that there was never any sense of nuance or true conflict. I think the author TRIED for nuance with the Evil Lady, but even then it was the protag's Mary Sue-ness that changes her heart which wasn't really all that interesting (and this isn't a reveal, you see it coming from almost their first interaction).
None of the secondary characters have personalities outside either loving the protag or hurting her. There were several real opportunities here as the nuggets of interesting people were in place.
The theme is the complicated nature of 'Justice.' It is dealt with so heavy handed that it felt like being beat with a club, but it also doesn't really add much to the depth of the story.
The magic system is all over the place. I never figured out what it does or how it works. None of the mages seem to actually use any magic other than the healer and even then the healer isn't much of an effective healer. The magic seems a contrivance and a convenience rather than something integral.
The world was bland. The author got a lot of stuff about horse management wrong, turning them into more human versions of horses. Many elements (Falada) both seemed cliched (again Falada; you just can't go there without the shade of Mercedes Lackey hanging over you, Dear Author) and non-productive to the bigger story. There are huge story holes with very small patches on them. (Why did the LI have a library hidden in a crack in a random gully? And in a massive rainstorm, why did the whole thing not flood??? Once that scene is over again, why is it never mentioned again???) What usually happened was that a story hole would appear and then a couple of pages later, the protag would have a thought that made the hole excusable. This felt like the author suddenly realized the hole was there and quick tried to fix it. Although mostly it didn't fix it anyway, it just made the story seem weak.
The romance was room-temperature tepid, although the protag and LI had very interesting dialogue conversations. There really was something nice about the manner in which they spoke to each other (although it was a drastic change in how the protag spoke/acted and at time seemed out of character). However, these exchange were often so vague (but in a pretty way) that I had no idea what they were actually talking about. I'd go back and read, re-read, re-read again and still have no idea what any one was talking about. Sometimes, I couldn't even tell who was saying what.
This was occasionally true of the action as well. I'd have to read and re-read to figure out how we got from Point A to point B because I couldn't see the connections between what was going on and was entirely confused on why characters were behaving as they were. Seriously needed more editorial work.
Although I did make it to the ending, I skimmed off and on in the last 20% of the book. The story takes a wild left turn at that point. There is one major surprise having to do with an early story element, but it was more silly than anything else. Everything else felt both off-track from where the story had been leading and predictable at the same time (different road, same scenery).
So the rest of this series is a pass for me. But, give the author 10 more books to work the cliches out of her system and learn to cut all the excess, and just maybe she might have some good tales in her. I don't usually read entire books this bad, which says the actual writing was decent and there was enough there to make me finish it.
I'm kicking myself, and I'd like to kick the other reviewers who swayed me not to read it initially.
I loved this book. I loved it. There are a handful of beloved books I've read that fit into this category -- simple but very good writing; a thoughtful look into what it means to be good, true, moral, loyal, a friend, what we owe each other, society at large, etc (in a non-preachy way); good relationship building; and an interesting fantasy setting. Books like that just grab my heart and stay with me. I remember feeling this way when I was in 3rd grade and read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the first time, and then later books like Watership Down, Crown Duel, The Blue Sword, the first Harry Potter book, Sabriel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Shannon Hale's Goose Girl...
I had to shake my head over the main complaint of people who gave this book one or two stars. They seem frustrated at the main character's lack of action (action with a capital A!). This is not a Throne of Glass novel (and I enjoyed several of those). This heroine is a people watcher, introspective, escaping abuse and fearful she will be heading into another abusive situation. She is a rabbit who's warren is surrounded by foxes, still and sometimes frozen by necessity, but watching, waiting, and deciding when it is safe to move. I enjoyed seeing her learn to be independent, make her first real friends, and struggle with how and when to take action, She is aware enough to know her own fears and weaknesses, and it's not an instant-action "fix" for her. I appreciate that this story is not about instant-action love, (thank the lord/lady that it is NOT about a freakin' love triangle), or instant-action magical battles either. There is friendship, love, the possibility of romantic love, battles, magic, and bravery.
Other people who did not review the book well didn't like aspects of the book (talking horse, how the heroine handled the initial identity switching) that are actually parts of the original Goose Girl story. Not much to do about that.
I wish I'd read Thorn sooner and I look forward to reading Sunbolt.
Top reviews from other countries
This is one of those books you need to free up a good hour or so to start reading it as it takes a while to warm up and draw you in. Pretty much your standard Fantasy fare initially - vaguely Medieval in format and appearance society where Magic exists and everyone is aware of it. Abused daughter of the family is in a precarious situation (in this case it is the daughter of the King) and has to sacrifice herself for the good of the family even though they treat her worse than one of their servants. Although you know that Alyrra is going to come out on top it is actually quite fun getting there and I did enjoy reading the book.
There are some bits that really don't seem to belong and it gets a bit bogged down in its own rhetoric from time to time. However, the whole idea behind what happens to Alyrra on her way to this neighbouring land to be married off to their Prince is well thought through and gives her a genuine chance to escape from her previous life. I'm still not sure why the main device to assist her is a talking horse - I kept singing the Mr Ed theme music whenever he took centre stage which spoilt it somewhat for me.
Each interaction with The Lady gets progressively odder and what was initially suspenseful becomes a little bit bland by the time we get to the ultimate Showdown. The end just felt very rushed somehow and it isn't given anywhere near as much space to develop as the ancillary storylines. This is a shame as from what we do learn of The Lady and her relationship to the Royal Family you can understand her behaviour towards them and why her Magical Garden has become her place of solace. However, from Kestrin's reactions to what subsequently occurs I don't think I really understand The Lady's reaction and not enough time is given to extrapolating. Every other interaction gets plenty of space to breathe and live on the page (sometimes for far too long) so it seems strange this is so truncated.
Other than that it is a pretty standard Medievalish Fantasy Romp that does keep the reader entertained and engaged enough to WANT to read on.
Well, this was disappointing, to say the least. I was really looking forward to reading this book, had it pre-ordered, even though I wasn't familiar with the fairy tale that inspired it. Or maybe I don't remember.
Thing is, the heroine is the weakest I've encountered in a long time. She's everyone's punching bag. Her mother, her brother, the entire court, sans the servants mock her and call her weak and stupid. And you know what? They're right.
So angry I wasted time and energy on it - picked it up twice because I couldn't get into it and it was annoying. Can't say the writing style was to my taste either.
Oh, well. 2 stars, my standard DNF rating.
Thorn is a retelling of the Grimm fairytale, The Goose Girl. I think the most well-known retelling of this story in Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, but I haven’t read that (it’s on my list though) or the original, so I came to this with no ideas about the plot etc. I don’t think this hurt me at all as the story made complete sense to me as a standalone piece.
I thought Alyrra was such an interesting and unique character, a princess who’s honest no matter the consequences, forced into a whole life where she has to lie to everyone about who she really is. It’s also the only story that I can think of where, being robbed of their crown, birthright etc., the protagonist makes no attempt to win it back and is happy to settle down into a ‘real’ job with no glory and hard labour. Alyrra is a likeable character, who makes plenty of mistakes and choices which she regrets. But the key is that they’re not silly-annoying-MC choices which make you scream, and she learns from them, growing as the novel goes on.
The writing manages to be at once simple and beautifully descriptive. The plot moves along steadily, focusing on the everyday things that are important to Alyrra (now Thorn, the goose girl) rather than veering off into the wider world. Although justice in the city, the politics of the nobility and an intriguing sort of thieves guild are touched upon, they’re never allowed to steal the attention from Alyrra and how they relate to her problems. Prince Kestrin, who I suppose is technically the love interest, appears very little for the majority of the novel and Alyrra never lets her guard down around him, keeping her wits about her and questioning his motives. Even at the end, there are no sweeping YA-typical declarations of undying love. They come to an understanding of each other and there’s an obvious affection there, but the author is restrained, hinting at a future together rather than rushing their relationship for conclusion’s sake.
I loved this story, as a retelling and on it’s own, and I’ll be on the look out for the author’s other works.
But this is a fate that might just have some positives for Alyrra, or Thoreena as she renames herself after a wild rose. Now she doesn't have to worry about her brother, or court politics, or whether her betrothed might be a murderer. She has a job as a goose girl, she makes some friends among the stable hands, and she has some money. But can she abandon her duty and the prince who might be in danger?
Okay, as you may have guessed I'm really enjoying Intisar Khanani's work. Yay for the Diverse Universe tour and new awesome authors.
I really should have read this book a year ago, as it was most favourably compared to Robin McKinley and everyone agrees1 that McKinley is awesome. Well, Khanani is too. I've thoroughly enjoyed all of her work that I've read. I can't wait til her next one.
What I enjoy most is that there is real emotion and heart to her characters. Thorn is flawed, but she tries so hard to do what is right without getting overly involved. Why should she have to put herself at risk for things that are outside her control? Plus she has a talking horse.
And I loved the world that Thorn lived in. It was so real. Not perfect, far from it in fact, especially if you are poor2 but it is real. I really do hope that her other books are also set in the same `verse, it reads to me like they could be.
And I loved her relationship with the prince. She doesn't really know him, but she'll still marry him, she has to in a way, but she also chooses to. She knows what the world has to offer, and she can see the possibilities there, she isn't going to fool herself and pretend that everything will be happily ever after, but she isn't going to discount that either.
The one issue I had with the book was the end. It came too soon! and too suddenly. And there was so much more I wanted to know, about where Falada came from, and how he kept on talking to her. I know magic explains a lot away, but I still wanted to know a little more. But then again, I'd probably give out3 if everything had ended tied up in a nice neat bow! But I do wish there was just a tad more to the ending.