Book of a Thousand Days (Hale)

Discussion Questions
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Also, consider these LitLovers talking points to help start a conversation for Book of a Thousand Days:

1. Describe the two young women in this story, Lady Saren and Dashti. In what ways are they different from one another? How does each cope with the deprivations of the tower? (Lest we would most of us fare locked away in a tower?) Why is it left to Dashti to communicate with the visitors who come to the tower?

2. Do you like the way in which this story is told: with Dashti narrating through her journal. How would you describe Dashti's voice—boastful...self-effacing...bright...depressive... uncertain...strong...thoughtful...? Does her voice change during the story?

3. How does Dashti's background prepare her to endure the isolation of the tower and the hardships of the Mongolian landscape? Talk about the ways in which Dashti's leadership and ingenuity save the two young women in their fight for survival.

4. Describe Dashti's conflict: her growing feelings for Kahn Tegus vs. her loyalty to Saren. How did you feel about the budding relationship between Dashti and Tegus?

5. How would you describe Dashti's healing songs—are they poetry, folk lore, magic? What is their purpose: why does Dashti use them, and why would Hale include them as part of the story?

6. Talk about the male characters: Lord Khasar and Khan Tegus? Are either fully-developed as human beings? Or are they one-dimensional, cartoonish characters?

7. Comment on this lovely passage: "Things worn closest to the skin, to the heart, carry the scent of a person, and of course, scent is the breath of the soul." What might Dashti mean by the last 5 words? Find and read other passages that you find lyrical or otherwise notable.

8. In what way does Saren change by the end of the book? Does she rise in stature in your estimation?

9. Hale based this book on a Brothers Grimm folk tale, "Maid Maleen," in which the imprisoned lady is the heroine, not her servant. Why might Shannon Hale have changed the heroine in her reworking of the original?

10. Does the book deliver in terms of engaging you all the way through? Are characters compelling, is the plot suspenseful, and are you satisfied with how the story ends?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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