The River's Gift is a rather predictable short fairy tale (Mistified, of course). The characters all seemed exceptionally two-dimensioned, and Ariella was particularly annoying. She just HAD to be smart, brave, altruistic, Talented, lucky and beautiful. A little original character is surely not too much to ask? If possible, the men were developed even worse, and Merod, while interesting, needed much more exposure. The plot was also predictable, though charming in a slight sort of way. Fluffy, even by Lackey standards. Oh well. If you can stave off the cynicism and are in a mood for unrealistic fairy tales, you might try this one. However, I much preferred her longer retellings, such as The Fire Rose and The Firebird.