McKillip, Patricia A. Alphabet of Thorn. An orphan librarian named Nepenthe and a royal library where she translates books - now, how could I resist that?
Taken in and raised by the librarians, Nepenthe shows a distinct talent for translating foreign languages. When a young mage from the floating school gives her a book in which the text looks like brambles, thorns intertwining and separating, Nepenthe is strangely enthralled and instead of giving it to the librarians, decides to keep it secret and translate it herself. The story she begins translating only continues to draw her in.
As Nepenthe struggles with the translation, things in the kingdom of Raine are not going smoothly. The new queen seems dull and uninterested in governing. Her mage tries to guide her, but Tessera is young, still grieving for her father, and can't seem to muster the the effort. The question of the queen's competence has some of her powerful nobles wondering about their own ability to seize power. The kingdom is in danger from both natural and supernatural threats.
I enjoyed this book which read very like a fairy tale. There is a twist to this tale that also adds interest.
Fiction. Fantasy. 2004. 314 pages.