Remember back in the day when it didn't take 15 1000p books to tell an awesome story? I miss those days.
So this book is one of those fantasy classics I should have read, I was told to read, and never did get around to. And once again, I am heartily sorry I didn't, though I am pleased to have done it now.
The main character, Aerin, is a half-noble girl child of a king, one whose mother was reportedly a witch, so the nobles (and most of the townsfolk) don't take much of a liking to her out of sheer prejudice. She's uncomfortable in her own skin and as the daughter (and only child) of the King. Of course, all of the good characters do take a liking to her and she gets to do cool stuff like tame and rehabilitate a lame horse, battle dragons, and save the land.
Aerin is everything an awesome heroine should be, and I quite like her. She's strong and vulnerable, not overly pretty and as imperfect as anyone can be. I imagine she's a character any awkward girl would love.
There is more characterization, plot, atmosphere, and story in this book than many others more than 6 times its length and a totally worthy, fantastic read. Some of it is predictable, and some of it is formulaic (now, I'm not sure how much of it would be in 1984), but it's still damn awesome.