This is probably the seventh or eighth time I've read this book; I first picked it up when I was... what, fifteen or sixteen? I think it was of my own accord-- I'd already read The Hero And The Crown for summer reading when I was somewhere around twelve, and I'd only just discovered that people who write one book I like probably have other books I'll like. And I did.
It's an easy read, but in a good way, no less complex because it's easy, though it is much simpler and more affected than her more recent stuff (I think Sunshine is the most beautiful and complex one of her's I've read yet, but I haven't picked up Chalice yet, and I haven't read everything she's written)-- but affected in the way of an early book, no in a way that I hate. Harry is relentlessly unpretentious, and that probably saves the book, though she does get a little too formal at the end. I mean, she just saved the world. But I understand that she was fully accepting the Hill Ways at that point, and they're formal and traditional, so it's okay. It makes sense in the context of the book, and it's charming enough in it's own right.
It's set after Hero by, like, five hundred years, but written before, and not everything said about Aerin comes out in the next book that's actually about her, but the large timespan makes that okay, too. She's mostly legend by then, and the core of who she is is in Hero the same as it is in this one. Though I do wish that there were more Damar books; it's a wonderful place perfect for semi-YA high-fantasy, but I'd rather have these few wonderful stories than a glut of ones I don't like that were just written because she thought she should.
So, here on the eighth reading, even knowing how it all goes, I can say it's still great fun, and with enough space between readings, still surprising. I forgot about the Trials and Mathin, I forgot they went to see Luthe, I forgot that they split up and had to be reunited; I think maybe I forgot on purpose so it's like reading it for the first time again-- a first time with a lot of deja vu.