Princess Kit, second born to her kingdom, grew up riding, sword fighting, and spending more time with ‘common folk’ than her brother, heir to the throne. However, he becomes ill and it is grim. Kit is elevated to heir status and is forced to hang out with other kingdom heirs, much to her despair. Once a year, all the Crowns (heirs to the thrones) of several small nations gather to socialize. This year, they had the extra treat of ostracizing Kit, seeing her as a stand in and inferior. One night, they gather and things change drastically. They are all kidnapped and forced on a horseback journey of several days as winter draws near. Prince Andric, defacto ruler of the dying nation Antor, has determined that the only way to ave his people and his kingdom is to kidnap the Crowns and hold them as ‘guests’ for the winter.
Kit, who has a longer and much more formal name that she hates, is nice to everyone. In fact, if I have any complaint at all about this book it is that Kit is inhumanely nice, making her character a little unreal. She’s nice to her parents and ill brother (which is cool) but she is also nice to the snotty royalty she is forced to hang out with, including the Thief Prince (who later turns out to be a decent type). But I enjoyed this book greatly and I told my nit-picking self to ignore this character flaw. She’s in her late teens and has acquired many useful skills by not having to sit around being royal all day. These come in to great use once the thieving commences.
The other Crowns have a range of snobbish behavior going on. A few of them are friendly towards Kit even if they don’t see her as an exact equal (and they sure as blue blood aren’t dancing with any commoners at the Antor winter ball). Other Crowns are cruel in their comments and pretty darn hostile to anyone of inferior status. I liked that there was this range because it made them more human. They each reacted a bit differently to their kidnappings and each character grew, even if it was just a smidge.
Prince Andric, who has been ruling the kingdom since his mother died (his father fell into deep grief upon her passing and then stepped right into dementia), is making one last desperate play to save his people. His kingdom has only a single valuable export, diamonds, and the mines have run dry. There are also allegations that some of Antor’s neighboring kingdoms stole from Antor, weakening the kingdom still further. Of course, many of the Crowns didn’t want to hear that. The land of Antor can’t support so many people much longer and Andric and his people may have to leave their kingdom. The relentless attacks of the Brazens, human raiders gone wild and vicious, Antor’s population is in desperate straights indeed.
Now, for the magic. And I loved this bit. Many Antorans have a gift for communicating with animals. An Antoran will notice during their teen years that they have an affinity towards a species of animal. For some, it is horses, others it is most birds. They bond deeply with the animals they communicate with, often seeing through their eyes, and develop lasting friendships. For Andric, it is a small wolf pack. There’ more to this magic, but I will leave that for you to discover. It was very well done in this story.
While Thief Prince has a good solid ending, I was hoping there was a sequel. There’s room to grow with this world that Alsop has created and I very much hope she revisits it at some point.
Narration: Carpenter did an excellent job. She had the perfect voice (that of a quickly maturing young lady) for Kit. Her male and female voices were distinct, making it easy to keep characters straight. She conveyed emotion quite well and I often was engrossed in a scene.