Monday, September 1, 2014

Princess Ben: Tales of progressive Faeries.

Princess Ben is a novel rich with classic storybook themes and a magic savvy main character, who often discards Benevolence for the more convenient Ben. This is one of the accumulating re-takes on children's tale, but unlike the rest it does not simply re-write a story, but shapes many a theme into entirely new forms in an entirely new world. This finely sculpted novel has a clear agenda to work ideologies found in classic stories into more truthful forms. 

Princess Ben shows a fully capable young women heroically rescuing herself and others, accepting herself and her body as they are, and showing skill in the politics and leadership suddenly demanded of her. These attributes found within her, as well as the Queen Reagent Sophia, present a concept of equal potential between genders, in both strategy in leading and bravery in combat. Benevolence also learns to accept her slightly above average weight, despite the cruel whispers of men and women in the castle, and refuses to have the sole use of being married off to prevent war.

Ben shows her equal ability to men when a spell goes awry and she is mistaken for a witch attempting to curse the princess (which is in fact a magical copy that does nothing but sleep.) She then flees and finds herself captured by a secret encampment of enemy soldiers, and is mistaken for a boy in a way reminiscent  of Mulan, although in this case based a lot more on the assumption that all women are slender. In this camp, she uses skills picked up from her now-deceased mother in order to save the life of a general, is later forced to escape a dungeon and return to her castle before a prince attempts to wake the "cursed princess." In the end she saves herself entirely independent of this charming prince, and indeed later saves him from a dragon with magic and the classic kiss he had attempted.

When Ben returns to the castle, she is forced to prove herself a capable leader in the face of impending war. She quickly begins to put her mind to the task, and develops the foresight to make decisions for the castle while the queen constructs defenses for the war. In fact, she showed such tact as to discover just how imminent war was by questioning spies using knowledge she gained from the army camp.

Finally, during her preparation for war and the leadership role that would come if the queen lost her life, Benevolence learns to love herself by going around her small kingdom in order to heal and help anyone she could. During these small tasks, she learned to love not for vanity or power, but for skill and the impact it had on the lives of others. By seeing the problems stubbornness caused others, she learned how to forgive herself, and those she had believed her tormentors.

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