I did it again. I unwittingly started at book 2 of a series AGAIN! Ugh. And in this case, I think I'd really suggest starting at book 1. I'm used to this by now, and I found it a little tough to follow at the start. Not impossible, but if you can come into it with the info from the previous book about who all these people are and why she's with them, I bet it helps.
In this book, we find Princess Ulga in company with a number of other princesses, heading off to learn princessly arts in preparation for meeting the Queen. But there's some plans riding the undercurrents of this world, and they have no idea what's waiting for them (but to be fair, I don't think the baddies know what's waiting for THEM either!)
I think I kind of love Princess Ulga, derisively called Princess Ugg by another of the princesses. She's fierce, smart, she works hard, she's brave and she knows herself. She's unwilling to return cruelty for cruelty, but for all this she feels real, not like some too-perfect Mary Sue.
The highlight of this book is definitely her interactions with her fellow princesses, as well as the queen. It's clear that in most of these instances, she and they are learning from one another. I love this because there can be a tendency in a story like this to make one "right" way and one "wrong" way - nature is good and tech is bad, magic is good and science is bad, wild is good and rigid is bad. But this seems to understand that the best of the world is in a balance of strength and kindness, of speaking and listening.
Plus, I just love how Ulga deals with kidnapping - both her own and other people's.
Like I said, I haven't read book 1 yet, so maybe it's horrible. But I have a hard time believing that a road that leads to this fantastic book could be THAT rocky. This is a fabulous fantasy adventure with a wonderful protagonist. If you like that sort of story, give this book a try. For myself, I can't wait to read book 1, or for the release of the third volume!