The Two Princesses of BamarreColumbine: The Two Princesses of Bamarre is set in an unusual world. The humans are quite beset by an array of dangerous magical creatures, so that they are always in jeopardy if they venture far from their own area and are not at all safe at home. Worse yet is the Grey Death, a mysterious creeping sickness.

This is mostly the story of the quest of one of the princesses to find a cure, and her encounters with ogres, spectres, gryphons and a lonely dragon. The fairies do not come in until almost the end, but they are the most grand fairies there ever were. Really, they are almost like angels.

The elves are by contrast quite homely. The princesses know them as nurses, a role they have taken up since the legendary hero Drualt saved their queen from gryphons. Milton, the princess’s nurse, is in addition a great knitter. Bamarre is also home to a unique kind of being; they are called sorcerers but are not the usual sort. Born when a lightning bolt hits marble, they have a flame for a heart and may live five hundred years. They can fly and have great magical skills. Rhys, the royal sorcerer, is particularly adept at calling clouds from the sky.

But of course you are wanting to hear about the fairies! The princesses believe that the fairies of their world can cure the Grey Death: that they can, in fact, do anything. They have not been seen by humans for hundreds of years and have been sorely missed. But when the monsters attack at the very foot of the fairies’ invisible mountain, the courage of the two princesses inspires them to intervene. They appear as human-shaped creatures within whorls of coloured light. These beings of light rescue the injured humans and send a healing rain over the whole realm. Their magical abilities are so great they can even move the stars. This is only the beginning of their marvellousness, because it seems they are fighting all the time to protect the world: “There are monsters deep in the oceans and high in the sky that threaten all the kingdoms… Eternal night hovers above our daylight. We fight monsters in that inky dark. A host of fairies is fighting now.” Although they are so remote and even a bit intimidating, some of them were once human; on the brink of death they had been given the opportunity to join the radiance of fairy life. I think that’s rather wonderful.

This is not only an exciting adventure with lots of danger and bravery but a rather sweet romance; and all with a light and amusing touch. The author also wrote Ella Enchanted and Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg.

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