"I first read this book when I was somewhere around eight or nine, and read it off and on again a half dozen times over the next several years. I loved it! You really get a feel for who the characters are, except for the Queen, whose main personality trait seems to be evil ambition. I've read several readers' comments on how helpless and out-of-it Xylina is, but come on guys, let's not forget the girl's barely sixteen! Girls this age are not supposed to have the leadership skills and street smarts of an experienced adult. Chill out, folks! What sophomore in high school would be able to manage her own finances, dodge a politician's murder attempts, operate her own home business, and then lead an expedition across several countries, and not make a few brainless mistakes? Personally I think these characteristics of Xylina show reality ... not a lack of talent on behalf of the authors. I also liked how clear they drew the descriptions of the surroundings, i.e., Ware's home, the forest, etc. A few bad points, though; Faro seemed to warm to Xylina much too quickly, going from raw hatred to pity and compassion in what, less than a day? I was also disappointed on how sterotypically gorgeous they had to make Xylina, even if she isn't considered "pretty" by society's standards in the book. Why must it all be about big-breasted blondes? People need to get out more! Nevertheless, it's a general fun book with interesting characters and imaginitive surroundings. This is one of my all-time favorites."