Aerin may be the king's daughter, but you wouldn't know it from the looks, the stares, the snickers, the pranks, or the court gossip. Her father loved and married Aerin's mother after his first wife died childless. But being from the North, of unknown heritage and lineage, suspicions of witchcraft at worst and being a commoner at best, followed Aerin like a fog of misery. Her royal Gift failed to manifest as she entered and traversed adolescence, which further fueled the rumors of her inadequate or inappropriate breeding. Aerin wrestled with the trappings of her princess-hood, losing the battle with gentility and sought solace in the royal library and her father's retired lame warhorse, Talat. Nothing says quest and adventure like a dissatisfied frustrated teenage princess and a well-trained loyal equine collaborator. For starters, and against all odds and her father's wildest nightmares, Aerin and Talat master the art of dragon slaying. Aerin proved to be an inspiring character, one I could have warmed up to and appreciated in my own adolescence. But Talat stole the show for me. More than once, his actions and courage brought tears to my eyes.