Jacqueline's Reviews > Book of a Thousand Days

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
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Mar 20, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, all-time-favourites, to-reread, fairy-tale-retellings, books-i-own, blog-reviews, signed
Recommended to Jacqueline by: my dear LRRH/Shannon Hale friends (love ya guys! :D )
Recommended for: anyone who loves a satisfying, well-written fantasy
Read in June, 2008 , read count: 1

Ever since I was able to read (when I was about four years old, I believe), I always found something admirable about authors. Perhaps it was just so magical the way they picked out words, stuck them here and there, sewed them together, and, voilà! had their stories collected in nicely-bound books. It was as if they were a sort of literary witches and wizards. But now, they also strike me as chefs; some give you a tasty but calorie-packed hamburger with deep-fried French fries that fill you up but make you want something more (your everyday fluff fiction—which I’ve read none of), others cook up a plate filled with a perfect piece of filet mignon along a delectable side dish of vegetables (beautiful classics, e.g. Pride and Prejudice ), and a few serve way a Thanksgiving dinner-type meal with too much to take in but are very good otherwise, like a Thanksgiving dinner ( War and Peace , A Tale of Two Cities —not that I’ve actually read or finished either). If this was so—if those cheesy YA lit authors flipped burgers at McDonald’s and Jane Austen was the Julia Child of this world—then Shannon Hale would most likely be a sous-chef of the latter. Or perhaps I’ve just been watching a tad bit too much Food Network and cooking-related shows.

Summary: Everyone gets grounded by their parents for misbehaving once in awhile; sometimes a ten-year-old can’t watch his or her favorite TV show for a week, or a teen is forbidden from calling their friends every night for a month. What would you do if you had the option to stay with a friend who was to be grounded for seven years in a tower, and if you didn’t step up to stay with her, no one would? This is exactly the question that Dashti, a young mucker living in medieval Mongolian times, faces when given the chance to become the maidservant of Lady Saren, who is given this sentence for refusing to marry a man she has feared ever since she was a young girl. If Dashti said no, this story would be nonexistent; but she said yes, and thus, an adventure began. I really can’t say more than that, or I’ll give it away, but if you read the “recipe” above, that is exactly what this three hundred-odd paged book contains: an intriguing plot, marvelous lyrical writing, characters you feel like you’ve known all your life, and fantastic adventure fantasy with the right amount of romance that will keep female readers young and old swooning (here’s a secret: I totally LOVED the romance and swooned for days on end :D ).

Thoughts: I’ll be honest. I love fairy tales, especially Brothers Grimm ones. But never in my life had I heard of “Maid Maleen”, not until I heard about this novel. So after reading the synopsis of it on Wikipedia, you’d think Hale’s version of it would be exactly the same, just written and lengthened in typical Hale flair. In reality, it’s almost as if the author combined “Maid Maleen” with a trillion other classics: Mansfield Park and Persuasion (Jane Austen), Cyrano de Bergerac (Edmond Rostand), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë); in addition, there is a scene towards the end that is easily comparable in artistry and intelligence to the famous pivotal trial in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird . Even if you don’t know me very well, you would—and should—be aware of my secret and unbearable obsession with this book, which I recommend to even the most reluctant readers. But allow me to put it this way: if you hate plots that are absolutely stunning, if you hate fantasy with a classic feel to it, if you hate heroines who have a little naïve goody two-shoes side to them, then you won’t like this book. But really, who doesn’t want at least one of those things?

Pros: Pretty much everything and anything about it, but see below for the one thing I didn’t like.

Cons: As much as I rave about this book, I may honestly say that there was one part near the ending that turned the story into complete YA (which is a little shocking, being that this is a Hale novel) and almost adult; it was a somewhat edgy scene (I don’t know if that’s the right word), and it totally came as a surprise for me. I wasn’t fond of it, and I think it could have been done without and changed.

Recommended For: I’ve heard of a few guys who have read this book and enjoyed it, but I don’t personally know any guys who like reading, so…I guess I should say I recommend this to any girl fourteen and up, and a very mature, bookworm-ish guy fifteen or sixteen and up.

Plot: 10/10

Characters: 10/10

Writing: 10/10

Overall: 10/10

Also Recommended:
- The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
- Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
- Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

For more reviews like this one, please visit my blog, Butterfly Forest.
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Quotes Jacqueline Liked

Shannon Hale
“I do like the world quite a lot.”
Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days

Shannon Hale
“You're better than seven years of food. You're better than windows. You're even better than the sky.”
Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days
tags: love

Shannon Hale
“Mama used to say, you have to know someone a thousand days before you can glimpse her soul.”
Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days

Shannon Hale
“My mama used to say, 'Are you sad? Then just wait a minute.”
Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days

Shannon Hale
“They weren't nice words he said. He could've lived a good life and died never having made a person feel rubbed down to bones and too sad to hold together. ”
Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days

Shannon Hale
“Sometimes my fancy gets to floating inside me, threatening to carry me away like a leaf on a wind. Better to be a stone.”
Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days

Shannon Hale
“This morning, Tegus welcomed me again with an arm clasp and cheek touch. I wasn't startled this time, and I breathed in at his neck. How can I describe the scent of his skin? He smells something like cinnamon-- brown and dry and sweet and warm. Ancestors, is it wrong for me to imagine laying my head on his chest and closing my eyes and breathing in his smell?”
Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days

Shannon Hale
“Careful with the accusations of insanity, oh my lady whose home is a tower with windows of brick, all for the sake of some skinny-ankled, laugh-prone boy of a khan.”
Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days

Shannon Hale
“... and with my last thought I felt some real sympathy for those poor chickens.”
Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days

Shannon Hale
“I let my head fall back, and I gazed into the Eternal Blue Sky. It was morning. Some of the sky was yellow, some the softest blue. One small cloud scuttled along. Strange how everything below can be such death and chaos and pain while above the sky is peace, sweet blue gentleness. I heard a shaman say once, the Ancestors want our souls to be like the blue sky.”
Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days

Comments (showing 1-38 of 38) (38 new)

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Jacqueline Um...this is kind of random, but I just wrote and finished a review for this book, but before I post it here and on my blog, I want someone to review my review (haha). So can someone (preferably someone who has read this book) volunteer to read it to look over it CONTENT-wise? Not necessarily like revising grammar and what-not.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

If no one volunteered, you can email it to me, BB. :-)

Jacqueline Anilee, can I PM it to you here on Goodreads? I would send it to you right this moment, but there is one thing I might change later tonight. So...I might not get to send it to you until much later today.

But thank you so much for volunteering! That's so sweet of you! :D

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, you can send me a PM.

Jacqueline Cool. Or...maybe you can help me now. Can you name me at least one REALLY famous, renowned gourmet chef? I know it sounds like it has nothing to do with B1000, but...you'll see.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)


Maybe you can find someone that's best suited to your purposes?

Priya Glad you liked it! B1000 is one of my favorite Shannon Hale books.

Jacqueline Anilee: I have a few picked out, plus my friend Chloe is helping me a bit. :D I don't think I want to change my review, I'm just so happy with it (plus, I had so much fun writing it), but I can send you like...an ARC (Advanced Review Copy ;) ) since you were the first and only person who volunteered. :D

Priya: B1000 is my favorite Shannon book as well as my favorite book of all-time! Have you read Shannon's other works too?

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Up to you. :-)

Priya Yes, I've read all the Books of Bayern, Rapunzel's Revenge, Princess Academy, and Austenland.

Jacqueline Anilee: Actually, you can help me out with my little dilemma too. Ok, who, in your OPINION is more famous and more "gourmet" (gourmet like the chef cooks the most expensive and best tasting food)? A) Giada DeLaurentiis, B) Julia Child, C) Cat Cora, D) Nigella Lawson, E) Other (and who?).

Priya: I'm still slowly devouring the Books of Bayern, and I find it AMAZING that they haven't been recognized very much. Well, at least that means we Shan-fans get to keep all the good stuff to ourselves! ;) I love PA; it used to be my favorite until I read B1000. RR I'm still reading, even though I can--and should--read it in one day (I think it's best when read in one day in fact), but it's still quite good. I bought AL for my mom last year, but I think she's been too busy to read! I think when I'm done with the fifty-odd books I own and haven't read, I'll *steal* it from her. ;)

Priya Bookbutterfly- I find that amazing too! I hadn't even heard of Shannon Hale until this summer (although I read PA a looong time ago). Her books are so popular on the internet though.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I really don't know, BB. Sorry. I'm really not into cooking. I guess I'd recommend doing research on them and seeing what their specialties and which would best suit your purpose.

I don't think it's amazing. Shannon's pretty well known in the literary world; in the real world, only a handful of authors achieve celebrity status.

Priya Good point. :)

message 15: by Jacqueline (last edited Feb 22, 2009 10:02PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jacqueline Well, that's true, but what I mean is, I've talked to and met a lot of friend of mine who read all sorts of YA novels, but they had never even heard of Shannon Hale. That's what I was talking about.

But thanks for trying with the chef thing by the way, Anilee. :D

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

It's not just a matter of reading the books; it's a matter of reading the YA author and review blogs as well. :-)

Jacqueline That's true; but sometimes even the most avid readers of YA lit haven't heard of her. Or maybe that's just me. Maybe it's because of where I live in CA or something, because I honestly have never met anyone who has actually read her novels. :(

Brillare Great review, BB!

message 19: by Jacqueline (last edited Mar 09, 2009 10:59AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jacqueline Why, thank you, Anidori!! :D You just made my day! I spent about a week on it, so...I sure hoped it was good!! :D

Chloe I really like your review Jacqueline!! Haha the chef thing works perfectly :). Maybe I should read this book ;)...?

Jacqueline Thanks so much, Chloe!! :D Yes, it does; thanks for that help you gave me! Now you get why I kept bugging you about it, haha. :P YES you should definitely read it. It is AMAZING and I kept rereading my favorite parts like for a whole month. And one thing I forgot to put on my review: after I finished the book, I sat there for a minute with the urge to go back to page one and restart. Of course, I didn't do that due to time constraints, but...as soon as I labeled this as "read" on Goodreads, I also checked "to-reread". :D

Chloe You're welcome :D. Haha, yes, it all makes sense now.. Hahahaha. I'll read it if you let me borrow it ;).... I totally know that feeling haha. Only I act on it ;).

One little side note... Some of us semi-enjoy that "McDonalds-esque" YA fiction!! Haha. Justtttt kiddinggggg. Although sometimes it's good! Haha.

Jacqueline I'll ask my mom, but I'm sure she'll say yes. But take good care of my dear little book, por favor. ;)

I have a few of those on my shelf. It's so fluffy sometimes I can barely get my way through it, but it's so much fun all the same. :D

Chloe Okay. Of course :D! Believe me, I also completely understand with wanting to keep books looking perfect haha. I can get pretty paranoid about it o_0...

Exactly, hahaha.

Jacqueline Hm, maybe I should put Book Sox on my copy of Book of a Thousand Days...I was actually thinking of doing that to this one HORRIBLE cover of this other book by the same author. The cover is THAT bad. Maybe I could get the original cover and wrap it around my copy....haha. But I just love keeping my books nice and orderly. I'm rather OCD about it. Well, I am OCD about a LOT of things... ;)

Yeah, like there's this one book I'm reading...I'm going pretty slow on it, because it has more substance than fluff, but it isn't very substantial. And McDonalds does fit in with fluff fiction...I mean, seriously, everyone loves fast food (maybe not necessarily McDonalds, but...), even though it's not very good for you. And most everyone loves fluff fiction, although it's not going to help your brain or something, haha. :D

Brillare By the way, what was the ending scene you thought was edgy? I can't remember noticing anything, but I'm curious to see if it bothered me at all.

message 27: by Jacqueline (last edited Mar 10, 2009 05:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jacqueline Anidori: It was the scene where she's in the battlefield and she proves she doesn't have any weapons. I dunno, I didn't really see that coming. If you're still kinda confused, I can send you a PM here about it. :D

Chloe Hahahaha that's one thing I'm OCD about too though :D So yeah, whatever you want. I used to put book covers on my Harry Potter books when I brought them to school...

Hahahahahahaha I guess that DOES make sense.

Jacqueline I forgot to ask my mom! I'll ask her tonight when she's not busy. :D

Hehe, yup. :D

Chloe No problem :) I don't have TOO much time to read (unfortunately) right now, so anytime you want is fine.


Ah, yes, that was a little awkward, but I didn't mind too much, because I thought it added to the story. It was obviously very humiliating for her, and it really showed how far she would go to save everyone.

Jacqueline Chloe: Okey-doke! GAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH, I forgot to ask my mom again! I will this afternoon. Promise. :D

Anidori: Haha, yeah....I should have probably written that warning.

****B1000 SPOILERS****
Hm, yeah, I just totally did not see it coming. Great points, though...maybe that's just me, because I haven't read enough YA. :P

Brillare BB, in case you thought my "POSSIBLE SPOILERS???" was directed at you, or criticizing you, don't worry. :) I was just letting other people know that we were entering spoiler territory. :)

Anyway, I think it's surprising how shocking the content in YA books can get sometimes. I ♥ Shan because she does a good job at keeping her books to a more appropriate level.

Jacqueline Anidori: Oh, no, no! No, I took no offense at that; I complete understood what you meant. I was actually just thinking how dumb it was of me to not put that up, haha. :D Sometimes the Internet doesn't do a very good job of showing one's emotions, does it? But no, no, again I didn't think you were criticizing me or anything. It's all good. :D

Yes, I agree! Shannon did once say because that the amount of racy stuff that is let through on the YA shelves has increased more than when she was a teen. And besides that, Shannon's stuff is so clean that it's hard to believe it's YA...until you find how advanced the reading level is. I think that's what makes Shannon stand out: she writes clean fiction, and she writes WELL. *applause* :D

Chloe Okay :) Sounds good.

message 36: by Luna (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luna I agree wholeheartedly with your review, except for the Con section.
How exactly is that scene 'edgy'? I really do not understand...


It's just nudity, and very innocent nudity. No sexual connotations at all. Her action proves her point fully and proves how brave and devoted she is. And what exactly is wrong with nudity and for that matter, sex? (not that sex is at all hinted at in this book...) This book in its entirety, is far, far from edgy. ( But it is such an amazing book :D )

I apologize if I at all sound mean, rude, critical, etc. This just nagged at me, perhaps due to the greater issue in society of the taboo on nudity and sex (and yet violence is deemed 'okay'?)

okay. end of rant for real now.

Jacqueline It’s been two years since Luna left her comment, and I’m sorry I did not address it earlier. I did, in fact, see it before, back when she had first posted, and I had even written a whole response and kept it under a draft on Google Docs, which I did not rediscover until now. Much of the following contains my original response, or, at least, the same sentiment of it. Luna, you may or may not read this, and you may or may not agree with me, but it honestly doesn’t matter to me as long as I make my stance known and clear to anyone reading my review and/or Luna’s comment. A lot can happen in two years, but my views remain the same.

First of all, thanks for reading my review, Luna. It’s much appreciated. I haven’t read Book of a Thousand Days for awhile now, but it still remains one of my favourites.

You have to understand, first of all, that this was a review that was mostly copied and pasted from my own review blog, where the format of the reviews was much in the same vein as other review blogs such as Squeaky Books or Reading Teen/Parental Book Reviews, which often state in a sentence or two--or even a whole designated section--about whether a book has any “questionable” content. For the sake of convenience, my system and theirs is often loosely based on the MPAA system (the U.S. movie rating system, if you’re not from the U.S. and not too familiar with it). When I first wrote this review, I did not have a designated section as I do for my more recent reviews about content that younger readers might not be too comfortable with, and, simply for lack of space to briefly address that issue, I included it under the “Cons” section (my more recent reviews lack a “Cons” section now, I believe, but it does have a “Red Flags” section much akin to what you might find on reviews from Common Sense Media).

Let me delineate to you as to why I called that scene “edgy”. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “edgy” is defined as “having a bold, provocative, or unconventional quality”. (view spoiler) Did I think she could have displayed that in a different, untraditional way? Yes, of course. However, of course, this was not my novel to write, and I still love the novel for how Hale wrote it. But did I think that one little scene made the WHOLE book “edgy”? Absolutely not. And nowhere in my review do I see the fallacy of composition being committed.

I know it was completely innocent nudity. And I’m grateful Hale spared us any details that would throw it completely from MG/YA to adult readerhood. But let’s take a hypothetical young reader, one who might be sensitive to reading nudity in his or her books--trust me, I personally know a good handful of them (and some people who are sensitive to reading such material are not young ‘uns, either!). Don’t they have the right to simply be on the lookout that there is some material that might seem a wee bit mature? (view spoiler) I most certainly do not believe that just because of that one scene, the entirety of Hale’s novel became some bawdy book--on the contrary, I love Hale’s work not only because of her writing style and the whole result of her craft, but also because her books are clean and suitable enough for me to recommend to younger and/or more sensitive friends. In taking note of that single scene, all I simply did was fulfill my job, the responsibility I felt was granted to me as a book reviewer, to inform anyone reading my reviews that there is a scene that extremely sensitive readers might not be completely thrilled about.

I’m not a hundred percent sure whether you wanted me to address your larger concerns, but I do think you misread my review if you believe I was talking about society’s “taboo” over sex and violence. In fact, I made mention of neither, and I’m afraid that this these latter comments are mere slippery slopes with very little, if any, relevance to Hale’s novel, much less that one scene. However way I discuss these ethical matters, I see that we will simply have to agree to disagree, unless your views have changed within the past two years. But since they have been brought up, I will try my best to address each of your concerns.

As I said before, the scene with nudity showed the character’s strength, but I felt that it could have been written differently. Innately, there is nothing wrong with nudity--how else could any of us take a shower properly? ;) But in all seriousness, a young or sensitive reader might not be terribly thrilled to find a novel with nudity, even if it lacks any sexual connotation whatsoever. This may not be your opinion, and this is not mine two years later, but it still is of some readers out there. Would I enthusiastically give this to an eight-year-old? It depends on the eight-year-old, but even if he or she were able to read YA novels (I speak only of ability, not content, mind), his or her parents might want him or her to wait until he or she is a bit older (and granted, that child would probably not have to wait long--only a year or two more).

And again, I made no mention of sex in my review--there is none present in any of Hale’s novels. If there had been, I would have still fulfilled what I believe to be my duty to inform my review readers of such content. It is each parent’s or reader’s prerogative to read or to have his or her child read novels with whatever content he or she wishes. Forgive my use of reductio ad absurdum, but if no one had ever mentioned that, for example, Fifty Shades of Grey is kind of inappropriate for the little ones...let’s just leave it at that, because it is a little squeamish to think of our hypothetical eight-year-old reading any such material. I’m not saying there is anything right or wrong about sex (I personally believe it is absolutely right within marriage, but again, to each his or her own), but reviewers still have every right to mention it for the sake of young and/or sensitive readers.

Lastly, I did not condone violence in my review. And I do not condone it. Ever. Two years ago--no, ever since I even had the ability to even make ethical decisions for my conscience--I believed the same. Again, I do not believe I said any of the sort in my review. And if there was a lot of violence in Book of a Thousand Days, of course I would mention it. Absolutely. I would not gloss over violent scenes and ignore them in my reviews. But given that there was no violence in Book of a Thousand Days, I made no mention of any. There was action in the novel, yes, but action is not akin to violence. And I would not really say that violence is deemed “okay” by society whereas nudity and/or sex is not. Especially in light of recent events, including the shootings at Newtown and Aurora this year, quite the opposite is true: people have been trying very hard to stop violence, but no one is banning depictions of sex in film or shutting down nudists’ beaches. (I make no comment on the latter two, but I think it is VERY obvious that violence should be stopped. And the rest of society, as it runs on commonsense values, believes the same.)

At risk of sounding like a broken record, I will repeat myself: by simply calling that single scene “edgy”, I was merely fulfilling my duty as a reviewer to inform my audience of any issues they may have with the novel. I could have called that scene a number of things; if I had, for example, said that “this is a dirty book and completely inappropriate because it will ruin the minds of our children”, I can understand your point. But I neither said that sentence nor do I believe it. I pride myself in being a truthful, honest blogger and reviewer. I do not exaggerate. If Hale had used foul language, obscene sexual scenes, and graphic violence, I would mention all of them, and yes, I would even say that it bothered me, because it is my review and I personally would not be too happy to read novels with any such content. But above all, whether or not I personally disliked certain material in a book or was not bothered by it at all, if I felt that hypothetical sensitive readers might think it is a little mature for their tastes, I would take on my duty of mentioning it for their sakes.

Just like my review was, this is all simply my opinion, and you are by all means welcome to keep yours--I am not trying to persuade you away from them. I mean no offense to you; I simply hope that, if you read this, you now fully understand my stance as a reader as well as as a blogger and reviewer.

message 38: by Tesh (new) - added it

Tesh Love the chef and food analogy :)

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