The Goose Girl (novel)
First edition cover of The Goose Girl.
|Cover artist||Alison Jay (first edition), Juliana Kolesova (photograph cover)|
|Series||The Books of Bayern|
|August 8, 2003|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ8.H134 Go 2003|
|Followed by||Enna Burning|
When princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna was born, she did not open her eyes for three days. While this frustrated her mother, her aunt held her when her eyes finally opened and became her nursemaid and constant companion. She nicknames her Ani and tells her stories about three gifts certain people have: people-speaking, animal-speaking, and nature-speaking abilities. Her aunt says that Ani’s mother has the gift of people-speaking, as do many monarchs, and that she herself has the gift of animal-speaking. She states that Ani too has a gift and that Ani was tasting it on her tongue at her birth which was why she kept her eyes shut.
Over time, her aunt teaches her to speak with birds, mainly swans, and Ani spends most of her early days by the pond. Her younger brother and sister are born in those years and her mother takes a special liking to her sister as she resembles both her looks and personality very much. Before long, her aunt leaves to return to the forest, where she has always felt most at home. After her departure, Ani's mother learns of her fondness of animals and that she believes she can speak to them. She therefore forbids all pets and keeps Ani indoors as much as possible. As Ani is the future queen, the queen fears the people will not trust her if she communicates with beasts. Later, it is revealed that her beloved aunt died over the winter.
Ani is now fifteen. Thanks to her aunt's teaching's, she realizes that her lady-in-waiting and close friend Selia, whose mother is the key-mistress, has the gift of people-speaking. Ani’s inability to be sociable like her mother leads her to seek solace in her horse, Falada, with whom she can communicate telepathically. She often goes riding with her father, the king, who is easier to get along with than the queen, but he dies in a horse-riding accident. After the funeral, Ani’s mother proclaims that her eldest son is inheriting the throne. She reveals to Ani that, behind her and her father’s back, she engaged Ani to the Crown Prince of the powerful neighboring kingdom of Bayern, and that Ani is to travel there to marry him. Ani feels betrayed and even more isolated, but complies. As she leaves, her mother gifts her with a golden cup with which to drink and a handkerchief with a drop of the queen's blood for protection.
During the travel to Bayern with her guards and Selia, Ani notices a relationship form between Selia and Ungolad, one of Ani's guards. One day, while drinking from the stream, Ani drops her golden cup, and unknowingly, her handkerchief. In that moment, Selia, who has gained admiration from half the guards, leads them to kill the princess and replace her with Selia. Ani flees, leaving behind both Falada and the remaining loyal guards, who are presumed dead.
After days of walking in the Forest, Ani collapses in the garden of Gilsa, a Bayern Forest woman, who helps Ani heal. Unlike Gilsa and other Bayern people, who have brown or black hair, Ani has yellow hair which is a distinctive Kildenrean feature. After recovering from near starvation, Ani dyes her eyebrows black, covers her hair, and assumes the alias of "Isi," a Forest-born who seeks work in the Bayern Capital. While initially intending to reveal herself to the king and take her place as princess, Ani soon discovers that Selia and the remaining guards are searching for her in order to kill her and that if she outs herself she will have no witnesses to prove she is as she says. She therefore instead finds a job tending the king's geese alongside a boy named Conrad, and she lives among other animal workers to whom she tells stories. After a few hiccups, she learns to use her skills of communicating with swans to also speak with geese. In this time, she slowly discovers her nature-speaking ability as being able to listen to, and eventually manipulate, wind. Ani also befriends a royal guard named Geric who visits her in the fields after she helps tame a horse. Before long, they begin to develop romantic feelings for each other.
Ani's best friend, Enna, who tends the chickens, discovers Ani's secret identity when she sees Ani without her hair covered. Ani tells her everything and Enna swears not to betray her and to help her reclaim the throne when the time comes. Later, Ungolad and other guards of Selia spot Ani at a festival and attempt to take her away to kill her. Enna arrives with Peace-Keepers, a vigilant group of village soilders, who rescue Ani. Now that Ungolad has proof that Ani is in the kingdom, he hunts her down and stabs her in the back. She narrowly escapes and flees to the forest, ending up back at Gilsa's house where she heals. It is here that she discovers one of her loyal guards, Talone, has survived, and he accompanies her back to the kingdom. When she returns, Enna had told the other animal workers Ani's secret, because the wedding between the prince and Selia has approached.
In order to pass as the princess forever, Selia had been convincing the King of Bayern that Kildenree was about to launch a surprise attack on the much stronger country of Bayern. The Bayern military was then preparing to attack before Kildenree could, therefore slaughtering the small nation and any who would revel Selia. The animal workers and Talone ride to the castle where the wedding is to take place. It is here that Ani confronts Selia and learns the crown prince is not the 14-year-old boy she had thought, but actually Geric who had lied about his status. Selia and Ungolad convince the king to speak with Ani alone, but before Ungolad can kill her, Geric and the rest of the guards burst into the room to save her. Geric had spent a large part of his childhood in the castle and knew of a secret tapestry, behind which they had been eavesdropping and heard Selia's full confession. A fight broke out between Ani's and Selia's supporters and Geric, with the help of Ani's wind-speaking, duels Ungolad. Selia nearly escapes, but is caught by Conrad. The king rules that Selia will suffer the Kildenrean consequence for treason that Selia made up - death by dragging in a barrel of nails pulled by stallions.
Days later, after Geric recovers, Ani is called to prove that Kildenree is not planning an attack on Bayern. She dismisses their proof through logical reasoning and shows them the injustice and segregation against Forest-born people that she witnessed while tending to the king’s geese. As a result, the people of the Forest gain Bayern citizenship. Geric is impressed by Ani's knowledge of his own kingdom and, now that she is proven to be his true betrothed, they acknowledge their love for each other and their happiness to rule together.
Ani - A quiet girl from Kildenree, originally Crown Princess, later known as Isi. She learns animal-speaking from her aunt and eventually also learns wind-speaking. Her full name is Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee.
Selia - Ani's lady-in-waiting and former best friend, a people-speaker. Her mother is the key-mistress. She and most of Ani's guard betrayed Ani in the Forest. She tried to kill Ani during the journey to Bayern.
Falada - Ani's horse. He had a special connection with Ani because she heard and spoke the first word on his tongue, his name.
Ani's family - Her mother, the Queen of Kildenree. Her father, the King of Kildenree, whose name is revealed in "Enna Burning" to be Tusken. Her siblings (in order from oldest to youngest): brother Calib-Loncris (later Crown Prince, when Ani is sent away); sister Napralina-Victery; sister Susena-Ofelienna; and baby brother Rianno-Hancery. Her aunt, an animal-speaker, who taught Ani animal-speaking and told her stories.
Talone - Leader of the guards who accompanied Ani to Bayern, and remained loyal to her. Other guards who remained loyal to Ani were Adon, Dano, Ingras and Radal. Thought to be killed by Selia and the guards during the Forest massacre.
Ungolad - Leader of the guards who betrayed Ani in the Forest. He was in love with Selia. Some guards under his command were Ishta, Yulan, Terne and Hul.
Gilsa - Finn's mother, took care of Ani after she left the Forest massacre, and makes wool pullovers to sell on marketday. She acts brusque but is very caring and generous.
Finn - A Forest boy, Gilsa's son, sells his mother's wool pullovers on marketday.
Enna - A Forest girl, eventually one of Ani's best friends. She tends chickens. Main character of Enna Burning.
Razo - A Forest boy, eventually one of Ani's best friends. He tends sheep. Main character of River Secrets.
Geric - Crown Prince of Bayern, initially disguised himself as a guard to the prince when he met Ani. He and Ani fall in love and marry, as they were already betrothed.
Ideca - Mistress of the Forest workers.
Conrad - Goose boy, initially jealous of Ani.
Awards and nominations
- 2003 Josette Frank Award for fiction
- One of the New York City Public Library's 100 Books for Reading and Sharing
- 2003 Utah Children's Book Award
- 2003 Utah Speculative Fiction Award
- Finalist for the Mythopoeic Award
- 2004 Humpty Dumpty Chapter Book Award given by the Mid-South Independent Booksellers Association
- 2005 Beehive Award Nominee
- 2006 Great Lakes Great Books finalist
- 2003, USA, Bloomsbury Children's Books, ISBN 1-58234-843-X, Pub date 8 August 2003, Hardback
- 2003, UK, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, ISBN 0-7475-6419-1, Pub date 3 November 2003, Hardback
- 2005, USA, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, ISBN 0-7475-7123-6, Pub date 3 January 2005, Paperback
- 2005, USA, Full Cast Audio, ISBN 1-932076-72-7, Audiobook
- "Past Award Winners (1943-2006)". The Children's Book Committee Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- "Utah Center for the Book". Salt Lake City Public Library. 2003. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- "Nominees for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award". The Mythopoeic Society. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- "Beehive Award Nominees 2004-2005". Children's Literature Association of Utah. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- Books: The Goose Girl on the author's official website