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Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Princess Academy (2005)

by Shannon Hale

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Princess Academy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,7781731,502 (4.05)140
While attending a strict academy for potential princesses with the other girls from her mountain village, fourteen-year-old Miri discovers unexpected talents and connections to her homeland.

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» See also 140 mentions

English (172)  Spanish (1)  All languages (173)
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
Miri lives on Mount Eskel, in a small village where everyone works in the quarry - except for Miri, because her father has forbidden it. Miri feels left out and worries she is a burden on the village, but life is about to change: it has been determined that the prince's future bride will be found in Eskel, and so all of the girls ages 12-18 are taken to a makeshift Academy a three hours' walk down the mountain. Their tutor, Olana, is strict to the point of unkindness, and the girls can't make the trip home during the winter due to snow. When they do go home in the spring, they agree to return, but under their own terms, which Olana accepts. Things are looking up, but then the prince fails to choose a bride when he visits, and as soon as he leaves, bandits attack the Academy, hoping to take the future princess hostage.

Quarry-speak is the key to secret communication, and Miri works hard to learn it, as she has never used it before; she's only had it described to her by Peder, Esa's brother and Miri's best friend (and maybe something more?).

Miri is, in many ways, at a crossroads: she loves her Pa, her sister Marda, Peder, and her village, but feels as though she doesn't quite belong there, as she can't help in the quarry. At the Academy, it's hard not to wish to be chosen Academy Princess - not a guarantee that the prince will choose her, but certainly a good start. She's unsure of her friends, as there is competition between the girls, alliances and grudges. Guided by quarry songs, village wisdom, and her own inner compass and courage, Miri is a good daughter and sister, a true friend, and a brave leader.

See also: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Graceling by Kristin Cashore


"The unfair thing stings like nettle on bare skin." (village saying, 50)

Her determination to be just fine alone melted under the bright hope of making everything all right. (Miri, 70)

No solution she could imagine would make everything just right. (92)

General principles of diplomacy: "State the problem...Tell the truth as plainly as possible...Listen carefully to your allies and enemies to know their minds. The best solutions don't come through force. Acknowledge your faults and declare your plan to amend them....Invite mutual acceptance." (Olana, 97)

What she had long believed was not true, and now the world was wide open to discover what was. (178)

Her mind and heart tangled. (184)

Truth is when your gut and your mind agree. (Doter, 246)

Thinking it's impossible makes it so. (Doter, 254) ( )
  JennyArch | Sep 16, 2019 |
Loved this book! ( )
  akbooks | Sep 12, 2019 |
This was a cute young YA story, but the quality of the cast reading wasn't great. In a simple fantasy setting, the notion of competing for princesshood is held up against the reality of the benefits of educating girls. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, reading it all in a single evening. It has the feel of a realistic fairytale. Miri is a wonderfully realized character, and the potential princesses' friendships and rivalries feel very true. (And I love that none of the girls are painted as true 'mean girl' villains. Man, if there's one stereotype I am absolutely sick of in teen media, it's the mean girl.) ( )
  akaGingerK | Sep 30, 2018 |
This book is a mash up of Cinderella, The Bachelor and [b: The Selection|10507293|The Selection (The Selection, #1)|Kiera Cass|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1322103400s/10507293.jpg|15413183]. I think I would have given it 4 stars if I had read it when it was first published, but when compared to all the books that have come after it, it didn't quite live up to my expectation.

Miri is a mountain girl. Her sister and father work in the quarry, mining linder stone which is the village's sole commodity. 14-year-old Miri, being small for her age, tends the house and goats. People from the lowlands consider the mountain people to be uneducated and unrefined. But this year a girl from Mount Eskel is to be the prince's bride. Since they haven't been taught the ways of the nobility, a Princess Academy is set up to educate them. All the girls between ages 12 and 18 must attend.

Tutor Olana runs the school. She demands perfect compliance and adherence to the rules. She is ruthless and dishes out punishment quicker than a mountain girl can say "unfair." Miri has spunk. She is constantly in trouble defending the other girls against Olana's harsh rules. But she is also one of the smartest. She figures out a way to communicate with the other girls and influence their actions with a mountain language called 'quarry speech.' She learns the rules of diplomacy so well that she soon outwits Olana at her own game.

Miri goes back and forth about whether she wants to be princess, guaranteeing a better life for her family, or whether she wants to keep her simple life and a potential future with her childhood friend, Peder. In the end, even though she earns the title of Academy Princess and gets the first dance with the prince, Miri is not guaranteed to be the prince's pick. The book is unpredictable. The prince does not make the obvious choice, but rather the logical choice. For the sake of a perfect, but unrealistic ending, most authors choose la la land. Hale does not.

Hale does a great job with character development. My favorite character is tutor Olana who is charged with training the girls. She is the perfect villain. Mean to the core. Miri is the picture of justice, fairness and all that is right. She never compromises her morals which often ends with her or a girl she is helping being punished. This conflict was my favorite part of the book. I've gotta say that the one part of the book that I didn't quite get or like was this quarry speech thing. The idea of communicating through telepathy throws the story out of the land of believability and I couldn't quite recover. It felt out of place to me.

Still a good book and one I will recommend to middle school readers who aren't ready for the YA book [b: The Selection|10507293|The Selection (The Selection, #1)|Kiera Cass|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1322103400s/10507293.jpg|15413183].
( )
  valorrmac | Sep 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
Hale weaves an intricate, multilayered story about families, relationships, education, and the place we call home.
added by Katya0133 | editSchool Library Journal (Oct 1, 2005)
Unfortunately, Hale's lighthearted premise and underlying romantic plot bog down in overlong passages about commerce and class, a surprise hostage situation and the specifics of '"quarry-speech."
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly (Aug 8, 2005)
There are many pleasures to this satisfying tale: a precise lyricism to the language ... and a rhythm to the story that takes its tropes from many places, but its heart from ours.
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus Reviews (Jul 15, 2005)
Hale nicely interweaves feminist sensibilities in this quest-for-a-prince-charming, historical-fantasy tale.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Anne O'Malley (Jun 1, 2005)
Sheilah Egan (Children's Literature)
Miri yearns to prove herself useful to her widowed father by working in the village quarry, but, he forbids this, thus cutting his daughter off from the bond of the villagers who earn their living carving stone on Mount Eskel. In this unusual blend of coming-of-age, adventure, fantasy, and fairy tale story Shannon Hale gives us a strong girl persona, wicked “outlaw outsiders,” corrupt business dealings, strict “princess trainers,” and a prince in need of a proper princess. Miri proves her worth to her father, the village, the head of the Academy itself, and to the fellow worthy of this quick-witted, hard-working “almost a woman.” The crux of the tale is the “quarry speech” used by the stone workers to communicate over the noise and confusion of the quarry, which is adapted by Miri in her desperation to save the village girls after they have been kidnapped by the outlaws. As usual, Hale ties her characters to the land in which they have been born and to Nature itself. This is an engaging, plain “good read” that just happens to be filled with life lessons about friendship, acceptance, courage, endurance, and finding the right path. Guard against dismissing this fantasy as more of the same old genre; there are a lot of fresh ideas and solid truths to be had in this finely-crafted novel. 2005, Bloomsbury, $16.95. Ages 12 up.
added by kthomp25 | editChildren's Literature, Sheilah Egan

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hale, Shannonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lieder, RickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mark, DonnaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zeltner, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Good Friends. And especially for Rosi, a true mountain girl.
First words
Miri woke to the sleepy bleating of a goat.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Book description
Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
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Average: (4.05)
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