McKinley's protagonist will be presented with a suggestion or hint at what may be on the horizon, and then proceeds to spend fifteen pages speculating about ALL possible motives, reasons, and results of said issue, while NONE of this really moves the plot along or fleshes out the story! Through Mirasol's speculations though, it shows young readers how to start inferring political drama from various characters and their behaviors.
Admittedly I've come off of this big Le Guin fix as far as recent fantasy reads are concerned. I know it's not at all realistic to compare, but even for a one shot I don't quite understand why this novel was so painfully slow moving. I appreciate that the realm McKinley presents us with was not dripping in fantastical elements (because some authors over do it pretty massively), and that magic and nature were so deeply connected; it was interesting to read that the powers in this world were so important to the every day existence of the people. However, there wasn't even a hint of the spectacle in the magic that makes a fantasty novel... fantastic. This book really didn't have a wow factor for me.
Chalice, Robin McKinley