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Monica Hughes.
Toronto, ON: Stoddart, 1989.
160pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-7737-2372-2. CIP.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14

Reviewed by Fran Newman.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

Monica Hughes is a master writer and The Promise shows this. The planet on which The Promise takes place has two continents named Komilant and Kamalant and there is a great desert and an oasis called Ahman, where beasts similar to camels but seemingly more reptilian called kroklyns are used for transportation. Clothing, food and houses are of the ancient Middle East.

Atbin, blond, blue-eyed, sixteen, son of the elder of the oasis village of Roshan, is given the task of travelling to Malan, the capital of the two continents, with a gift for the Princess Rania on the occasion of her tenth birthday. Sand writer, ancient priestess who holds the whole planet in her hands, has honoured Atbin with this task.

"Sleeping Beauty" came to mind at the scene of the birthday party as Oueen Antia shows her distress before and during the presentation of Atbin's gift - the summons from Sand writer. Princess Rania is to leave the safety and loving security of her home and travel to live with Sand writer, where she is to be trained to become her successor.

Like any young girl wrenched from her environment, Rania experiences shock, disbelief, anger and grief. But once the transition to the Great Dune of Roshan and Sand writer has been made, once the severity and loneliness of this new life have been accepted, Rania draws upon the strength of being a princess.

Alone with Sand writer, Rania finds her former life becoming dull in memory until, years later, Atbin, bringing food for the two, leaves Rania a doll he has made. This precipitates a crisis in the girl. Torn between her "duty" and her femaleness (a strong attraction to Atbin), Rania is sent away by the enigmatic Sand writer to sort out her feelings. During her stay in a nearby village, Rania experiences her gifts and makes the difficult decision.

Rania is a very believable character. Sand writer is wonderfully old, wise and powerful. Female readers will have much to ponder on the direction of Rania's life and of their own.

Highly recommended.

Fran Newman, Murray Centennial Public School, Trenton, ON
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