This has been a theme for me lately and I really should learn from it: do not judge a book by its cover. And let me tell you, this book's cover is spectacular, I mean really, it's beautiful. The book itself, however... was boring.There was nothing particularly wrong with the story. The writing dragged a bit at times, but it wasn't bad. The plot was just the same old fantasy rehash - I notice Marriott thanked Diana Wynne Jones for writing The Tough Guide to Fantasyland but, really, wasn't the whole point of the guide to help you not fall into clichés when writing? Because this plot was all about clichés. Orphan girl discovers she's the last of a royal line, has a great fate to lead her people but must first learn, blah blah blah. Now, I don't mind that storyline at all because as it is known there are 7 basic plots and every story will follow them somehow. And that's alright because the characters will pull you into the story. You'll root for them, you'll want them to succeed. I didn't feel much of anything for Zira. I didn't dislike her, I didn't like her - in fact I didn't feel much of anything for any of the characters in the book. Not even one. I was actually kind of hoping for some kind of tension between Zira and her ~should-be-enemy~ love interest, but he, as well as their whole romance (which can't even be called that because it all boiled down to "You saved my life, I owe you." "Hey, remember how you owed me, I'm here to collect. Btw I'm a princess." "Oh, we should get married." "Ok." - I mean, now that I think about it, it was kind of like Bruno Mars' Marry You, I know I'm just throwing shade at this point, but really, it was boring.And the villain... I mean, he almost woke me up because his story was interesting and I really thought Marriott had struck gold and I was ready to apologise for all my yawning, but she just turned him from tragic and compelling into insane and inane. And not even an interesting crazy person... just boring. Like this book.