When people think of William Morris, if they think of his fantasy novels at all, they probably think of the two classics the Wood Beyond The World and The Well at The World's End and probably miss this one. Which is a pity, for, while it's not perhaps quite up to the level of the other two, especially for new readers, it's still a great fantasy novel.
The language takes some getting used to, as, like Morris' other books, it's all archaic English to match the medieval setting. This can be a struggle at first, but once you've got into it doesn't present too many problems. The plot is fairly episodic, too, which means that you can pick it up and put it down and go back a few days later without really losing your idea of what's happening. You can read a couple of chapters a day and still enjoy it.
The basic plot is simple: a wicked witch steals a small child - the rather unfortunately named Birdalone - and keeps her prisoner. Birdalone escapes and embarks on a series of adventures on different islands, on one of which she is saved by three women, who ask her to track down their respective beaus. And so she does, and the book wends its leaisurely way through their adventures.
There are few outright sword and sorcery moments in this book; it's not really in the realm of Lord of the Rings. Instead, the theme is romance and thwarted love, and sacrifice. All thoroughly enjoyable.