Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl Alright, give me a moment to come up with the appropriate word to describe it Stunning Enthralling Amazing Powerful Emotional Complex Utterly epic Ok, so one word won t suffice It s a fictional masterpiece Book seven of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, Golden Daughter has to be one of the most brilliant yet of the series The things that happen The answers uncovered The stories told I would sit momentarily speechless at one point, and laughing with glee in the next.All her life, Princess Sairu who can read secrets by looking into one s eyes has been trained to be fiercely protective, wholly devoted, and yet never love She s a Golden Daughter A legend A secret And is often mistaken for a little handmaiden, especially when her path merges with a Dream Walker s Jovann and Sunan are half brothers They are pitted against each other by circumstances not of their own making, but Jovann seeks to remedy that However, Sunan has hatred buried too deep to be merely brushed aside Kidnappings, Masks, imps, and a certain Lady Hariawan litter their paths and make everything so much complicated Then we have a smug, fluffy orange cat, a passel of hedge pigs a.k.a lion dogs , some self important priests, Hymlume and her beautiful children, mysterious Dream Walkers, a dark Dragon, and of course, the ever present songbird.I m staring at this half written review and wracking my brain for what next to write Golden Daughter is almost too big for words Like really, Tales of Goldstone Wood has to be the most intricate, complex series I ve ever read Don t let that scare you away from reading Golden Daughter and its like though Its complexity only makes it better, and I don t believe I ve ever been really confused Things usually come together quite nicely if not in the actual book, than in the sequel, or a few books after that It s an epic series truly just beware that writing a long, eloquent review for it might be a little bit of a challenge smiles So it s a fantasy With a powerful Christian allegory woven firmly into its fibers It has a fairytale twist with its enchanted other worlds and fae folk Apparently you can read Golden Daughter on its own, but I would definitely recommend reading the other books of the series first In order It makes every little moment ever so much meaningful In fact, I delighted in the similarities to Heartless book one that I found in Golden Daughter It s probably because, chronologically, Golden Daughter comes before Heartless I loved how Sir Eanrin the cat was called monster again in this tale, just as he was in Heartless Just brings back fond memories Golden Daughter as the other tales can be a little creepy A bit gory It was also a little darker, like Shadow Hand, but not quite to the degree book six was I found a lot of sweet, silly, touching, and hilarious moments in between A lot of them included Eanrin of course Or the songbird, Lumil Eliasul Those particular moments chased away the darkness and brought a deep profoundness to Golden Daughter that often left me in tears clears throat Anyway, because of some frightening slightly gory content, I would strongly caution parents read these books before you let your younger children perhaps twelve and under read them, and then judge for yourself if your child can handle it Though I m not sure, I think my twelve year old sister would be okay with the mature content, and would love the books overall The allegory So many profound, heartfelt, real like allegories And there s even a subtle retelling of a Biblical story do keep on the lookout Golden Daughter made me realize anew how very deep Anne Elisabeth Stengl s books are These are no fluffy tales of romance and humor Though yes, it does contain those elements But rather, they are a part of a much bigger tale A tale of the all surpassing love of a God for His people A tale of the power of a Creator and His hand in all the events that come to pass A tale of darkness getting swallowed up in a much greater Light And of imperfect, sometimes lost, but unique characters caught up in that tale I just have to sit in awe of the beauty of the allegories Anne Elisabeth weaves together May she ever continue to follow God s leading and let Him speak through her novels I m left deeply touched.We meet fascinating new characters, Sairu and Jovann, to name our main characters and reconnect with beloved old ones Sir Eanrin for one Oh, the smug, irresistible cat I just love him We uncover some dark secrets about the evil Dragon And we learn anew the power of the songbird his silver trill of Won t you return to mealways brings hope in even the darkest of moments.A horrible yet amazing story is finally told A story we ve perhaps been waiting to hear since the very first book, Heartless It includes encounters with Hymlume, the Gold Gong, and the wretched Dragon Very emotional and deep story And Sairu, Jovann, Sunan, Lady Hariawan, and Sir Eanrin all have a place in the unfolding of the tale.I love how real Golden Daughter is The bad is not brushed over it s displayed along with the good The characters are flawed, and they have raw, real feelings and emotions They re not the perfect heroes and heroines they often make mistakes Oftentimes they don t even know how to respond to their Lord It s messy, but it s beautiful When Lumil Eliasul is there to hold their hands Just like real life, hey So yes at some point after Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, Dragonwitch, Goddess Tithenovella , and Shadow Hand, if you haven t read those do pick up Golden Daughter and let your heart be warmed, your mind be thrilled, and your soul be touched.For myself, I m waiting im patiently for book eight Or perhaps another novella, Draven s Light whichever comes first big smiles I received an advanced copy of Golden Daughter in exchange for my honest review. Disclaimer I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review My copy of Golden Daughter, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, came last Wednesday If you live in North Carolina, you ll remember that it was the first cold rain of the year, made miserable by the fact that I had forgotten my literature teacher s porch didn t have an overhang, so my lovely, furry boots were soaked I crept miserably home, determined to curl up somewhere warm with a nice book But, luckily, I thought to check my e mail first And there, glowingly, I beheld my ARC Eagerly, I began to read And so we come to what you have been waiting for the review Masayi Sairu has been a Golden Daughter her whole life, confined in an emperor s palace, where she learned the skills of intrigue, cunning, and, above all, protection For as soon as the Golden Mother deems her training complete, Sairu will be married off to a political ally, whom she must protect for the rest of her life But arranged marriage holds no appeal for Sairu, and when she sees a chance to escape the traditional role of the Golden Daughters, she takes it Her new charge, the beautiful temple girl, Lady Hariawan, is a gifted Dream Walker, capable of exploring worlds far beyond her own But an encounter in the Dream left her scarred, both physically and spiritually And how can Sairu protect her mistress from enemies in a different world Golden Daughter is unlike any of Stengl s previous novels For one thing, it takes place largely in the Near World, and there only in one region something Stengl hasn t done since Heartless Although the adventures do bleed over into the Wood and the Dream, the characters have less knowledge of it, so it reads quite differently That being said, Stengl handled it excellently It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time her characters have interacted with a crowded city or travelled across the Near World I am discounting summarized journeys In addition to forging new territory, Stengl shows great restraint as a writer when she refrains from overtly referencing the rest of the series A certain, familiar character goes almost the entire novel without being named So yes Golden Daughter is quite different, almost disconnected, from its peers And although I am sad not to see of the familiar Wood, this forces the novel to stand on its own and, dear readers, Golden Daughter does just that Despite having unfamiliar characters than I anticipated, I quickly connected with our three heroes Sairu, Jovann, and Sunan although I did not pick up on the allegory until deplorably late in the novel In fact, I enjoyed all the characters except Lady Hariawan She set me on edge, and I could not fathom her role in the story aside from a focus of the characters interest she literally spends most of it comatose, emerging only long enough to make cryptic comments Towards the beginning of the novel, I worried that I was meant to sympathize with Lady Hariawan as a heroine of the novel I didn t sympathize with her, not at all She irritated me by never doing anything, but her non actions still retained consequence As events transpired, I felt comfortable disliking Lady Hariawan, but even now I can t figure her out After five hundred pages, I know precisely nothing about her besides her name And because I never understood the motivations behind her actions, I lost interest in them Why was she beautiful Why was she silent Why did she change I still don t know Yes, it is frustrating But remember the ending of Veiled Rose, when it seemed no one could possibly sink any lower Or dare I mention the ending of Shadow Hand, that left me a complete wreck after finishing it Although Stengl does not pull her punches, she always, always, delivers a great ending Maybe not a happy one But certainly never a pointless one Although I didn t understand the character of Lady Hariawan, I trust that Stengl has to say on the topic Until then, I can only keep reading I am reasonably confident that I will love anything in this series, and Golden Daughter is no exception I loved reading it you should do so, too, at your earliest convenience I would recommend that you read at least Veiled Rose, Starflower, and Moonblood first, preferably in that order Because the series spans such a vast frame of time, it runs the risk of losing the reader along the way, and I fear that might happen if you read Golden Daughter unprepared To recap Golden Daughter, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, is an excellent addition to the series Although quite different from the previous books, it retains her trademark wit, charm, and vision that leaves me speculating what comes next I, personally, would love to see Imraldera again Because we only get one character s perspective of her in Golden Daughter, I d like to reconnect with one of my favorite characters, because I suspect that she still has some growing to do. Wow..Like all I can say is, Wow This is like the greatest piece of work in the whole fantasy world I am speechless. Let me just start out by saying that I loved it I cannot, I am afraid, express in text just how much I loved it It made me nearly choke on unexpected humor It made me stay up late into the night to read and then start again the next morning It left me gasping on the floor of a dark room It made my hands shake and my voice stop working It left me muttering about it under my breath for days after I finished the novel.I ve been a Tales of Goldstone Wood fan from the beginning The past couple of novels have not been my favorite Until Golden Daughter The writing, the characters, the story, the answers to some of the questions we had and the questions it opened up , the world It got ranked up by my favorite ToGW novel, maybe even passing it It s definitely on my Favorites Of All Time Novels List.There are few books I would recommend wholeheartedly This is one of them. BEYOND THE REALM OF DREAMS IS A WORLD SHE NEVER IMAGINEDMasayi Sairu Was Raised To Be Dainty, Delicate, Demure And Deadly She Is One Of The Emperor S Golden Daughters, As Much A Legend As She Is A Commodity One Day, Sairu Will Be Contracted In Marriage To A Patron, Whom She Will Secretly Guard For The Rest Of Her LifeBut When She Learns That A Sacred Dream Walker Of The Temple Seeks The Protection Of A Golden Daughter, Sairu Forgoes Marriage In Favor Of This Role Her Skills Are Stretched To The Limit, For Assassins Hunt In The Shadows, And Phantoms Haunt In Dreams With Only A Mysterious Faerie Cat And A Handsome Slave Possessed Of His Own Strange Abilities To Help Her, Can Sairu Shield Her New Mistress From Evils She Can Neither See Nor Touch For The Dragon Is Building An Army Of Fire, And Soon The Heavens Will Burn I loved it What an epic and complex journey Anne Elisabeth Stengl has created a fantastically compelling new heroine and hero She has grafted a whole new and fascinating culture into her already intriguing world, and continues to develop new characters to love, fear, and relate to, while deepening our relationship and understanding of beloved characters and themes of old But the journey she takes us on always comes back to view all through the eyes of the Song Giver As always, Anne Elisabeth Stengl s newest work speaks to my heart and spirit and has become one of my favorites. Another great story from the always reliably enjoyable Anne Elisabeth Stengl I particularly loved the Eastern flavour of this story, as I ve been craving oriental flavoured fantasy lately I m finally caught up on the Goldstone Novels Wow Every time you think they can t get any better, they do Wow. I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review And wow, I loved it Of course, I love all of Anne Elisabeth Stengl s books, so I expected nothing less One of my favorite aspects of the Tales of Goldstone Wood series that although the setting is an imaginary world or set of worlds, actually , it s obviously inspired by real cultures and geographical locations in our world The empire in which most of Golden Daughter takes place is based on a mix of East Asian cultures, which I especially appreciated, considering that I live in East Asia myself.The characters here are vividly portrayed, and I couldn t help but care about their struggles and triumphs It was nice to see a few old friends from Stengl s other books, but we mostly meet new characters in Golden Daughter The author threw out a few intriguing tidbits that help connect the dots between events in various other books in the series, some of which take place thousands of years apart Now I want to go back and re read certain scenes in certain of her other books that I know will make sense now.If you enjoy fantasy at all, I highly recommend the Tales of Goldstone Wood If you ve read any of the other books in the series, you ll definitely want to read Golden Daughter If you haven t, Golden Daughter can stand on its own but after you read it, you may find yourself eager to get your hands on the rest This is one of my favourite books ever written Right up there with the works of C.S C S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien I don t usually cry with books, but GOLDEN DAUGHTER by Anne Elisabeth Stengl had me tearing up and trying hard not to cry while traveling back to school on a bus If you love settings based off East Asian cultures, strong heroines battling dragons and darkness, and characters both good and bad but always relatable, you must check out this novel And it s over 500 pages, so just awesomeness for you to enjoy