The story gets a bit exhausting in the middle. Not for lack of plot (we have a jilted lover being manipulated by an evil witch after all). But it almost seems like Card does a bit more explaining and telling than he needs to. We understand what's at stake and we understand the challenges and obstacles, show us the action! Bigbad used to have this hand gesture of motioning to me with open palm when he was explaining a reference I didn't understand. It was rather patronizing and I called him out on it. I get the impression with the dialogue towards the middle and end that Card is sort of doing that to readers. "In case you don't remember Ivan doesn't realize how the princess Katerina feels about him." It just bogs the story down.
I'm sort of surprised that this book isn't a bit more popular as it's a smooth blend of fantasy, historical fiction, adventure, romance, and magical realism. It hits so many genres that it's hard not to find something you like about it. I read this book probably 6 or 7 years ago, and despite knowing how it will end (though I had forgotten a lot), I still thought it was endearing, and yes a bit enchanting.
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