Book of a Thousand Days

By: 

Shannon Hale

Number of Pages: 

320

Minimum grade level: 

7th

So you’re stuck in a bricked up tower for seven years with a complete milque-toast of a princess who, frankly, can get on your nerves a bit. I mean, would it be too much for her to haul a bucket of water up from the cellar on occasion or take a swipe at the rats with a broom from time to time? And why does she seem so apathetic toward her kahn, a wonderful man with a sense of humour who at least came to visit her at the tower for a few weeks. Never mind that he couldn’t be bothered to rescue her. But Dashti, Lady Saren’s servant girl, doesn’t generally complain. She’s a mucker – born to serve the gentry. She swore an oath to serve Seren even though it meant getting locked up in the tower after Saren refused to marry Lord Khasar, the cruel, evil man her father choose for her. Now it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a bright side here, but at least Dashti’s had more to eat lately than when she lived out on the steppes. And work, though hard, can be satisfying. And she’s got plenty of time to record her thoughts and draw in her journal. Plus she has a wonderful cat that helps with the rat issues. Now there’s a well in the cellar, the guards bring fresh milk occasionally, and the food and candles are supposed to last for the seven years of imprisonment. But Seren’s father, if he cared at all, didn’t count on the rats, or Saren’s voracious appetite, or the grain and meat spoiling, so after a couple of years things are looking the tiniest bit grim for the girls. Dashti is determined NOT to die in the tower, so she starts looking for ways to break out and live. But even if she can find a way out, there are still the guards to deal with – they’ve been ordered to shoot to kill if the girls escape. And if they get past the guards, where will they go and how will the two girls survive out in the world? Can Saren’s kahn save them, or are they doomed to roam endlessly while trying to remain hidden from Lord Khasar, a man who is determined to get the girl he’s been promised.

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. Dashti had a choice to go into the tower with Lady Saren. Why did she make that choice? Would you?
  2. What was one advantage to Dashti of living in the tower?
  3. If you were going to be locked in a tower for seven years and could take just one book, what would it be?
  4. What would you find most difficult about living in that situation for that long? Have you ever gone on a long trip or spent a long period of time with a friend or relative? What were the good things about being around someone so much? What wasn’t so great about that?
  5. Have you ever gone on a long trip or spent a long period of time with a friend or relative? What were the good things about being around someone so much? What wasn’t so great about that?
  6. Why did Dashti like Lady Saren’s kahn so much? Why did the kahn never come back to the tower?
  7. What were some of the challenges the girls faced in escaping the tower and finding the kahn’s city?
  8. Were you happy with the way the book ended? What other ending(s) could there have been?

If you liked this book, try

  • Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  • Zel by Donna Jo Napoli
  • Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast by Robin McKinley
  • After Hamelin by Bill Richardson
  • Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.