I have to be honest: this novella wasn’t nearly long enough to satisfy me. Part of the reason it’s taken me so long to review this is due to the freak snow storm and the resulting mess that followed (both humans in our household work retail after a fashion, and the locals went nuts after the snow, and it made work stressful, thus coddling of selves after work instead of working on our real passions, spinning and writing respectively), but since I’m being honest, I’ll also admit, at least here, that part of the reason it took me so long to review this is also because I had to sort through my reaction to the story.
Because while I was reading it I was enjoying it immensely, and then we hit the ending and I was left dissatisfied. Since I’m a conscientious reader, I’m aware that it’s not always the fault of the story or the writer when I find myself dissatisfied with a story; we all have our preferences that do not necessarily on the story-tellers ability to tell a tale. Especially when I’m reviewing, I try to keep that in mind. Especially especially when, until the ending, I’m enjoying the story.
Such is the case with this one. Early in we meet Jona, who is the younger daughter of a well-to-do merchant family in a smallish town. She’s a tomboy, more interested in sitting out doors and enjoying a day in her own company than going to see the Queen arrive and give a speech. Still, she wanders a bit closer into town to get a glimpse of the goings-on and meets a boy playing knight, surrounded by imaginary foes, and, being a helpful sort, rushes in to help even the odds. Together, they valiantly fight off their opponents and spend the rest of the day playing. When a local gang of kids show up and mock Jona’s newfound friend, she defends him, further earning his regard. When it’s discovered that Lee is, in fact, the Queen’s nephew, Jona is stunned. Not long after their first encounter, the Queen sends for Jona as a study-partner for Lee. A stutter that refuses to go away on its own, Lee relaxes enough around Jona to over-come his insecurities, and the Queen has no qualms about using that to her advantage. Their friendship deepens over the time they spend together, and it becomes clear that Lee is less interested in social class and rank, and more interested in honoring ties when they are forged.
The novella isn’t an overly complex one — which is good, since it’s a novella and not a novel. The story is heart-warming and over-all cheerful, a tale of honoring friendships, of standing up to archaic ways that no longer serve, of what it is to rule by love rather than by force and fear.
I cannot, and will not, blame the story for leaving me with wanting to know more about Meridian and its history, which is what my dissatisfaction turned out to be, upon reflection. Ultimately, that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Wanting to read more? It’s going to make me seek out more of S.G. Roger’s writing. And, I think you should too.