"I am a Princess of the blood and demand to be treated honourably," she tried, and was glad to hear her voice sounding strong and serene.
So Princess Kira addresses her captors in the prologue to The Princelings and the Pirates. Kira is one of the strongest female characters I've seen in young-adult fantasy fiction, and I'd recommend the book on the strength of her character alone. She is indeed honorable, strong, and serene, as well as courageous, kind, and resilient. Her power comes from within and is not dependent on her relationship to any male character.
That said, we witness the budding romance between Kira and Princeling Fred, which is handled with delicacy and understatement. We also see the unbreakable bond between brothers Fred and George, a relationship that is deeply touching but that, again, is handled with grace. There's nothing cloying about Pett's characters or relationships. In a non-moralizing way, the work presents many lessons on how we should behave toward each other.
This is a book of richly detailed landscapes, castles, inns, and sea and land voyages. The action draws the reader in from the start, and the dialogue is intelligent and full of subtle humor. The characters are well realized, and readers familiar with the first book in the series, The Princelings of the East (which I also highly recommend), will note how returning characters Fred, George, Victor, and others have matured.
A sensitive reader can feel the influence of J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, and others. As a beta reader of this book, I can say that Pett made many improvements from the first manuscript to the final version.
This book is suitable for children, teens, and adults, and I'm confident that all readers will thoroughly enjoy it.