Monday, February 1, 2016

The Golden Braid (Hagenheim)

Title: The Golden Braid

Series: Hagenheim (Book #6)

Year: 2015

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Summary: Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Rapunzel
~ Sir Gerek

Review: Rapunzel is one of my absolute favorite fairy tales, but I will admit that I have found few retellings that did the original justice. True, there are multiple elements in the original that I don't approve of. The Golden Braid, as far as retellings go, I'm having mixed feelings about. 

First off, I did truly enjoy it. It's one of the best, in my opinion, that Melanie Dickerson has put out. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is still my favorite, but this one is a very close second. 

What did she do well? A very likable heroine, for one. I'm always concerned about going into a Rapunzel retelling and seeing a very poorly shod Tangled reproduction. This was not the case, thankfully. Rapunzel here is quite a girl, but not a cop-out copy of Disney's famous princess. She is opinionated, talented, gutsy, and all, but she's still feminine and enjoyable. She can throw a knife better than pretty much anyone she knows, her biggest dream is learning to read and write, but she still has believable fears. She's brave, but she's still human.

I went back and forth on my opinion of Sir Gerek. He's a bunch of a grump in the beginning, and it was rather fun to read of his interchanges with Rapunzel during the early stages of their friendships. He has a great heart, but I was constantly scowling at him for his determination to marry for money. I understand that was common for men to do in his time, but I felt that the situation surrounding his penniless state was very forced. I didn't see that it added much to the story other than drama.

This book also has a great host of minor characters. Brother Andrew and Cristobel were two of my favorites. Most of the middle of the book felt kinda rushed, though. The events there are linked directly to the plot of The Princess Spy, so it was almost like re-reading certain chapters from that book. But it was very interesting to see how the two stories were connected, especially since I am a huge fan of complicated stories weaving together.

One of my biggest complaints would be her hair. Rapunzel is famous for having long, blonde, beautiful hair. And she does in this story - gorgeous locks that flow to her ankles. But... we're never told why. Long hair is gorgeous, but why does Rapunzel wear her hair that long? Other than Disney's 2010 film, I've seen very few retellings actually give Rapunzel a reason for having hair that long. Not necessarily a con, but I would really love to have more reasons for no haircuts. *off soap box*

Advisory: Some fantasy action and violence. Several fights, both with sword and fists. But nothing out of Melanie Dickerson's style and I thought she handled it well. 

Also: some romance. It's still there, but it was played down in this novel - a definite plus, in my opinion. 

There is a rather large subplot surround a character named Balthasar. Rapunzel's knife throwing skills cheat him of a conquest, and he is bent for the rest of the book on getting his revenge on her. Not to kill her, mind you, but to pretty much ruin her. Nothing is explicitly stated, but please note that this is in there. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*Please note: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.*