3.5 stars, rounded up for being free
I went into this with very high hopes. I usually adore Ms. Derr's stories, and am a huge fan of fantasy. Plus there are just so many reviews raving about how amazing this story is.
It was good. I did like the world and usually the characters. I loved the progression from the king rejecting Allen at first to him going to rescue him and the hints of their happiness we get right at the end.
Perhaps my biggest issue with this is due to my linguistics background. I was pulled out of the story every time they mentioned the need for translators and it really affected my enjoyment of the story. There is no way that people living in such close proximity wouldn't either develop a common language (yes, I know they mentioned that in the story, but it was never mentioned why it hadn't happened yet) or learn each others' languages in order to communicate. Think Europe, for example. There are many different languages spoken there, but how many Europeans do you know who only speak one language?
Blah. So, that's me, being picky. The story was still fun to read, in spite of my hangups, which I think says a lot about Ms. Derr's skill in storytelling.