The Princess and the Hound // by Mette Ivie Harrison


//published 2007//

Since I finished the Lynburn Legacy last week, I am ready to embark on a new series!  The Hound Saga, by Mette Ivie Harrison, is a fairy tale-esq series set in two kingdoms.  Despite the title, the Princess isn’t really the main character – Prince George is.  As an aside, it always aggravates me when it feels like the title has nothing to really do with the book.  I mean, yes, eventually we meet a princess and she has a hound and they are very important to the story, but I never felt like they were the main characters at all, because we never really get any perspective from them.  The story is about George, and Princess Beatrice and her hound, Marit, are only important in how they relate to George.  It’s not a bad thing, or a bad story, but the title is, in my mind, misleading.

Anyway.  The story is alright, but it definitely had some gaps in logic, and just felt very…  formal?  Even though we are getting George’s perspective (third person), in some ways the story always felt a bit stilted.  Maybe it’s because there is not a single moment of humor in the entire book – to me, you don’t really know a person until you know what makes them laugh, and these characters don’t laugh.  In all honesty, it’s not a particularly happy story.  Everything is serious and rather bleak.  People get killed and there are several characters who are really rather cruel.

On the whole, I still found myself engaged.  George has the ability to speak with and understand animals, a talent creatively referred to as “Animal Magic.”  However, over the generations, Animal Magic has become considered a bad, evil thing, and people are killed because they have it.  So, as he grows up, George hides his Animal Magic, even while he tries to understand it.

When he is in his late teens, a marriage is arranged – with George’s consent – between him and the daughter of the neighboring king.  There was a war between these two kingdoms a while back, and things are still uneasy between them, so it is hoped that their marriage will help bond them together.  George travels to the other kingdom to meet his future bride, but Beatrice is a very strange young woman.  She is very serious and rather awkward, and she doesn’t go anywhere without her hound, Marit.  Beatrice’s father is rather a jerk who treats Beatrice quite poorly.  George finds himself drawn to Beatrice, especially when he begins having dreams about her, seeing various episodes of her childhood.

So for me the story breaks down on this romance, though.  I’m never convinced about the love between these two, and when the big reveal is made about Beatrice, it only makes things stranger and less believable.  The “evil Animal Magic” is solved by George basically declaring the he has Animal Magic and now it’s cool and, for the most part, everyone is like, “Oh!  Okay!  Sounds good!” despite generations of hating Animal Magic and thinking it’s completely evil.

There is also this whole thing with an enchanted bear that seemed weird and wrapped up rather abruptly, but appears that the second book focuses on that aspect of the story, so we may get some answers there.

On the whole, this is a 3/5 read for me.  It was good enough to make me want to read the second book.  However, for some reason my library only has the first book available, so if I want to read the whole series, I’ll have to actually buy the rest of the books. I’m willing to try the second book, but if I don’t like it better than this one, I’m not really going to spend $4-5/book just so I can read the rest, so we’ll see if I actually finish this series, or set it aside and hope the library invests in the rest as some point.