I just learned that this was actually the first book published in the series, and that the first three were prequels. Odd, that. I am absolutely amazed that the story works as well as it does with the rest of the series, and that Wrede was able to fit all the pieces together. But then, I can't imagine what someone who was reading this book without having read the first three would make of the story - which honestly needed all the backstory to make sense.
I still remember the letter I wrote to Wrede after reading this book after it was re-released. It was one gigantic list of questions - What happened to Killer? How were there wizards on the side of good? That sort of stuff. Even as a kid I was an astute reader. Wrede's response was something akin to "I don't know the answers myself!"
I'm glad that I discovered this series in my very formative years. I'm positive that they made me a life-long fantasy reader, and lover of cracked fairy-tales.