SummaryEditMany stories tell of damsels in distress, who are rescued from the clutches of fire-breathing dragons by knights in shining armor, and swept off to live happily ever after.
This is not one of those stories.
True, when Creel’s aunt suggests sacrificing her to the local dragon, it is with the hope that the knight will marry Creel and that everyone (aunt and family included) will benefit handsomely. Yet it’s Creel who talks her way out of the dragon’s clutches. And it’s Creel who walks for days on end to seek her fortune in the king’s city with only a bit of embroidery thread and a strange pair of slippers in her possession.
But even Creel could not have guessed the outcome of this tale. For in a country on the verge of war, Creel unknowingly possesses not just any pair of shoes, but a tool that could be used to save her kingdom…or destroy it.
Plot Summary Edit
Creel begins the book as a poor girl from a small village, Carlieff Town, the farthest village of northern Feravel. She lives with her crazy aunt and humouristic uncle, also with many cousins, and strong, intelligent brother Hagen, as both her parents died in a fever outbreak (along with the queen and the young princess of Feravel). Creel was well-trained in sash and dress-making by her late mother, but her real talents lies in embroidery. She is described as a very ordinary girl, with freckles and straw-like hair, but pretty enough. In a last effort to gain wealth, her aunt decides, much to her dismay, that Creel must be dashingly rescued by a prince, and henceforth sends Creel to stand in front of a cave in far hill where a dragon is said to live, supposedly so the dragon will come out (as he has not done since Creel's grandfather's time), kidnap her, and her aunt will alert the prince to save Creel, who is expected to then marry her and bring the entire family to live in his castle.
The story takes a somewhat expected turn when the dragon does come out and ushers Creel inside, but takes an unexpected turn when the dragon, Theoradus, reveals he is exhausted by humans and wants nothing to do with her or her prince. Creel trades him solitude for a pair of shoes from his hoard (as Theoradus tells her that all dragons collect a different type of object, for example, he loves human footwear). She picks a pair of beautiful azure blue slippers "The Dragonskin Slipper", much to the dragon's dismay, and is off on her way to send the prince home and walk to the King's Seat, where the royal family lives and any peasant can get their start, for her, in dress-making.
A very long and tiresome journey takes its toll on Creel, but is eruptedly stopped when she rescued from a gang of oafish bandits in the forest from a golden dragon named Shardas the Gold. The two become friends, and he offers her free bed and board in his cave in exchange for her company, which she happily accepts. For about a month the two pleasantly live together, each while he sings, talks or speaks, while Creel knits and crochets to create samples of her work for dress shop owners, inspired by Shardas' hoard of beautiful stained glass windows, collected over a timespan of 700 years.
Soon enough Creel decides she must be on her way, and makes her start by accidentally gaining a prince's friendship, Luka, and his bodyguard/friend Tobin (a mute), who takes her to his sister Ulfrid's inn. The next morning, Ulfrid escorts Creel to Derda's dress shop, the finest in the King's Seat, and probably the finest in all of Feravel, where Creel gets a job as an apprentice. Derda is strict but not heartless, and gives the girls, Marta, Alle, and Larkin the crippled, the least bit of leisure. Creel is happy there, especially after becoming famous for her stained-glass dress designing and continued friendship with Prince Luka, until spoiled Roulinian princess Amalia takes a liking to the blue satin shoes that Creel bargained Theoradus for.
Uneasy by Amalia's interest and angered by the princess's demand that she give them up, Creel refuses angrily. Not long after, apprentice Larkin trades Amalia the shoes for an ugly dress given to Creel, who is outraged and quits her job, deciding that she will reform the dress and wear it to the Merchant's Ball, were peasants "beg" (not literally) the wealthies for enough money to start a business of their own. When Creel attends the ball, clad in the finest dress she has ever created. Unfortunately, in the middle of the ball, the castle is attacked by none other than Shardas, Creel's dragon friend. Along with the duke, she hides underground in the secret royal chambers, where she discusses the matter with the board and the king himself.
Creel soon discovers that the slippers given to her were made from the hide of Velika, queen of the dragons and Shardas' mate, who befriended Milun the First, only to be turned on by him and have her hide ripped apart. Creel espaces the palace with Luka, Tobin, the duchess and duke, and meets everyone back at Ulfrid's inn.
While recovering from the recent tramatic endevour, she is visited by Azarte, Feniul's (the dragon cousin of Shardas) dog, who leads them to Feniul. He shows Creel that Shardas' cave was destroyed by Amalia, along with every window, smashed to pieces. But before he was found and put under the spell of the slippers, he created a collar from the work of his late alchemist friend that resisted the pull of the shoes, given to Feniul.
Creel and her companions toiled away at the duchess's and duke's country estates, making a dozen of these collars, and proceeded to attempt to strap them upon the neck of dragons, to release them from the spell and retaliate the Roulini's attack. After only collared 2 dragons, Creel decides she must take the slippers from Amalia herself, he sneaks into the castle with Luka, Tobin, and Feniul.The prince and his bodyguard stay behind to fend off guards, while Creel and a guard disguised as a cook ride Feniul through the caves, to very last chamber, where Veravel is desperately making it's last stand.
She finds Amalia, and fights her, only to discover that hidden deep within the underground, queen Velika, gray from a century of darkness and wounded, still lives, trapped to hide Milun the First's darkest secret. Velika, of course, is also controlled by the slippers, who grab Amalia and Creel, and holding them above the Boiling Sea, (a lethal combination of poisonous gases and boiling water to dragons and humans), she drops Creel, who is saved not as moment too soon by Shardas, who resists the slippers. Velika then proceeds to dive into the sea, holding Amalia, followed by hysterical Shardas.
When they do not come up, everyone assumes they died in the sea, along with Theodorus, who died in battle, and returns to the King's Seat, to find that the very guard that Creel delivered to the underground battlesite, killed the Roulinian King Prilian with his own hand, and peace between Feravel and Roulini was restored.
Creel was gifted a dress shop, six month's pay, and all the fixings by the king, after hastily refusing his decision to wed she and crown prince Miles. At home, Creel learns that Marta, her friend and dress shop partner, is betrothed to Tobin, who, as reward for his many years of faithful service to the king and bravery during the war, is retired from his fulltime position, and given the title of guard trainer, personal bodyguard of the immediate royal family, and a house near the castle. Creel's brother Hagen is also given a job a "Theoradus' Museum", where the dragon's hoard if put on for display to the public, human and draconic.
Amongst the aftermath, when Creel is well on her way as dress shop owner (said shop she named "Marisel's Fine Dressmaking" after her mother), she learns from Luka that Shardas and Velika still live, hidden away on a far eastern beach, "to rest, to hide, to heal.", as author Jessica Day George puts.