First, let me say that I have read McKiernan's other work, his Mithgar series, and liked it. I hated this book. I love fairy tales, and I love fairy tale retellings, but this novel doesn't really add anything to the tale or re-invent the tale like other authors, such as McKinley, Lee or De Lint, do. The main character is boring and dull, and the fairy tale cliches are over done. Not only are the older siblings bad, they are really bad, even worse than the original tale ("East of the Sun, West of the Moon" and/or "Beauty and the Beast"). The exaggerations just make the story more unbearable and unbelievable. It's the first book by McKiernan that I couldn't finish.