This is old-school teen fantasy book--it won the Newbery Honor in 1982. When I was growing up, this and McKinley's Hero and the Crown were touchstones of mine. Don't we all grow up wishing that we could wield swords and ride horses through the desert? Learn foreign languages and fall in love with handsome princes, all without relying on femininity and flirtation?
I revisited it as a special treat to myself for Easter. I'll add quotes in a day or so, but please consider reading it, even if you're not a fantasy fan. It's like dark chocolate with chili and cinnamon--wonderful plain, but with the addition of a few uncommon twists, it transcends to the amazing.