Alexander's Prydain series were second only to the Lord of the Rings in my 'favorites' list when I was a kid, but I never kept up with reading his new books, as they are mostly aimed at younger readers. After this, however, I may go out of my way to get them!
Yeah, this is a kids' book, but it's a really good kids' book. Alexander has a talent of somehow bringing everything to life with a brief, seemingly-simple, but well-turned phrase.
Lidi, a recently orphaned young woman, has decided to keep on with her father's family business as a traveling magic show. Her dream is to find a certain legendary magician and have him teach her his fabled 'rope trick.' Travelling through the provinces of an Italian-esque countryside, picking up a charming ragamuffin fortuneteller and a jack-of-all-trades on the run from the law along the way, she knows her quest is something of a wild goose chase - but feels bound to pursue it all the same. Similarly, her new hired-hand feels bound to pursue revenge against the overseer who murdered his uncle - even though the feelings between Lidi and himself are growing. Both must make decisions about what really is most important to them...
My only complaint with this book is that it ends VERY abruptly. It also seems to give the message that sometimes, the best thing to do about your problems is to run away from them. I've been thinking about this, because it's a sentiment that I actually agree with pretty strongly - but it's rare in fiction, and I think, just because of this rarity, it bothered me. Leaving things not solved but avoided isn't typical of a novel - but I think I liked it.