No book recommendation list of mine would be complete without a book written by Shannon Hale. This Newberry Award winner and New York Times Bestselling author is one of my favorites, and I’ll admit that I had trouble picking one of the many wonderful books she has written to recommend. But I finally settled on Book Of A Thousand Days, which was published by Bloomsbury in 2007. This fairy tale is based in a medieval Mongolian world, and it is full of hope, love, and courage.
Dashti, a mucker maid, is being locked away in a tower for seven years with Lady Saren, who receives this punishment for rejecting the cruel Lord Khasar’s proposal by becoming engaged to Khan Tegus. Though Lady Saren weeps and struggles during their imprisonment, Dashti writes in her book of thoughts and remains hopeful and happy as she tries to heal the ailment that plagues Lady Saren’s mind using her people’s mucker songs.
When the two women escape the tower, they find the world a changed place. Their situation is already complicated because of the time Lady Saren commanded Dashti to pretend she was her when they met Khan Tegus, and now Lord Khasar brings war to his doorstep. Will Dashti ever be able to show who she really is? And can she also heal Lady Saren, defeat Lord Khasar, and love Khan Tegus?
Book Group Questions
- Dashti’s mother once said that you needed to know someone for a thousand days before you could glimpse their soul. Do you think this is true? How is this proverb shown by the characters in the story?
- Lady Saren struggled with depression and a mental illness that Dashti’s songs could never heal. But when Dashti gave My Lord, the cat, to Lady Saren, she showed improvement. What do you think about this change and how it occurred? Was it really the cat who made the change?
- In the beginning of the story, Dashti believes that muckers were made to serve the gentry. But near the end of the story, her thoughts have changed. Why? What happened to change her way of thinking?
- There are spiritual elements throughout the book as well as traditions concerning fate: Dashti’s blotchy skin being a sign of bad luck, Lord Khasar betraying the ancestors, etc. What do you think about these aspects of the story and how they affected the characters and their actions?
- This book is not just about surviving through trials, but also the beauty of living. How do you think Dashti was able to keep hope and happiness when she was imprisoned in the tower?