The Ugly Princess
by Elizabeth K. Burton
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
207 pages; ISBN: 1894942094
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
King Edrick of Nadwich chokes to death on a chicken bone on his wedding night (not his first wedding). It's bad enough that the person next in line to the throne is his daughter, Jahmelle; she is said to be so ugly that she has spent her entire life locked away in a faraway castle with only trolls as company.
Jahmelle is the product of a very brief marriage between Edrick and the daughter of the chief of the Moldori. They are a race of fearsome warriors who fight like alley cats when insulted (which happens very easily) and are into ritual face scarring. It's up to the King's Champion, Sir Christopher Evergild, to bring Jahmelle back to assume power, and to keep her from suffering an "accident" along the way.
Meantime, back at the castle, the throne is not empty. Benifaz, one of the King's Ministers, has declared himself Regent, charged Evergild with treason and called Jahmelle an impostor. He has also stripped the Ruford Seneschal, a senior member of the castle staff, of his position and put him on the equivalent of Death Row. He escapes with much help from Dagger Jack Tarragent, a former noble and kin of Edrick, until he was forced into a life of crime. Jack is an expert at getting into places where he is not welcome, then getting out with no one the wiser.
Knowing that they are being sought by Benifaz's men, Evergild begins to look on his escorting of Princess Jahmelle as more than just a duty. Even though she remains veiled through the entire trip, Evergild begins to fall in love with her. The thought of marriage between a person of royal blood, like Jahmelle, and someone not of royal blood, like Evergild, is very rare, but not impossible.
I really liked this story. It's good, lighter, summertime-type reading that also has a few things to say. It's very much worth reading.