The Princess and the Three Knights, by Karen Kingsbury

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One star, read in June 2013.

I hated this for many reasons, and in spite of the almost too beautiful illustrations. (In fact, in the context of the drippy overbearing Christianness of the story, the illustrations were too beautiful, and I scoffed at them even as I liked them.)

Typical patriarchal fairy tale storyline: Very white, blonde princess is so beautiful the villagers stop to watch her pass. She’s so wonderful that her father knows he must find the best possible knight to marry her. Princess never says a word in the entire book.

Three knights compete for her hand. One is arrogant, so he has blonde curly hair, blue eyes, and a snooty goatee. One is greedy, so he has a black goatee and an ambiguously foreign look. One is kind and loyal, so he has brown hair and is clean-shaven (in order to look honorable, you see).

The final test is to see which brave knight can take the princess closest to the edge of the cliff without falling off. (You see the setup here? See it??) Arrogant guy gets within a foot; greedy guy gets within six inches. Kind and loyal guy, when it’s his turn, says, with heavy-handed symbolism… that he loves the princess, so he wouldn’t take her anywhere near that dangerous cliff.

The king rejoices, the kind and loyal knight wins, and it doesn’t occur to anyone that the princess could walk to the damn cliff herself instead of being “taken” anywhere like a prize doll. They all live happily ever after.

Except for me, because I just spent the last ten minutes vomiting.

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