Strange Horizons, 13 March 2006

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"Towers" by Leah Bobet

"Towers" by Leah Bobet is a fairy tale retelling that deals with the "after the happily ever after" of the story "Rapunzel."  It seems the prince is a hero and, therefore, unable to stay at home and govern his kingdom or spend time with his wife.  At first, the princess stays home with the king and queen and awaits the prince’s return.  After a while, she decides to go out into the world and find him.  She finds him at the top of a tall tower guarded by a knight.
"Towers" turns out to be a nice commentary on the realistic expectations of marriage.  The princess knew what kind of man she was marrying at the start.  His heroism was part of his appeal, but after the wedding, she expected him to change.  And for her part, the princess was not the girl trapped in the tower that he had first met.  When he saved her, she changed.  Neither character is bitter about the situation.  They love each other, but that love is not enough to sustain them when they require different types of lives. 
Bobet does not give us a clear-cut villain.  She also allows room for hope for these two if not now, then for the future.  Very well done.