Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: The Fairy Godmother (A Tale of Five Hundred Kingdoms) by Mercedes Lackey

I know most people my age discovered the splendor that is Mercedes Lackey in high school so I’m a bit late to the party; I didn’t read her books until I got a box full of sci-fi and fantasy at a bargain bin and her Herald series happened to be in it, in my twenties.

The Fairy Godmother is the first book of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series and is really a fresh look at classic fairytales.

We begin with the overworked and downtrodden Elena, our Cinder Soot, who is at the ripe old age of 21 and not married. She dresses in rags, eats scraps, is wise beyond her years and is waiting for something, anything to happen.

That something isn’t what you’d think it is; her prince isn’t going to show up. See, in this world, when a something like a tale begins as with Ella MAGIC happens. It swirls around the person, building, building until it makes something happen or…

Or you become a Fairy Godmother.

Elena’s prince is currently three years old so she’s out of luck in that department BUT the local fairy godmother is looking for an apprentice.

Thus begins Elena’s new life as a clever young godmother.

I have, by this point, read shall we say a butt ton of Mercedes Lackey’s books. Most are superb, I’d recommend her any time but sometimes I get the feeling that because she is such an established and prolific author that she goes ‘eh, fuck it’ and writes a story completely different from what we’re used to.

Some of those books I love, and some of those books I put down very gently and ask, ‘what the hell did I just read?’

Thankfully, this is not one of those books.

This has the hallmarks of what makes a book really work; everything is clearly written, there is no problem putting yourself in this world, or understanding and loving the characters within. Elena is a compassionate hard working and clever character who doesn’t wilt under duress.

This is a fun read. The world of the Five Hundred Kingdoms is a wonderful fantasy world and Mercedes Lackey take on classic fairy tales, delivering an almost back-stage look on how the Narrative works, and how it doesn’t always work for you. It wants an ending, any ending even if terrible things happen.

The magic system is interesting in that it revolves around stories. Ha, stories within stories within stories.

Definitely aimed more towards a female crowd but honestly, I think anyone can enjoy this book.

I can’t remember how many were in the series currently, there may be three books.

Also, for fans of Mercedes Lackey – did the Dragonborn Halfblood Chronicles (sorry about that) series ever get finished? I know Andre Norton died before they could finish but… that was one of my most favorite books series I’ve ever read. Hm. I think I should review that one next; it was pretty gritty and amazing. Something everyone could enjoy, I think

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy much of Lackey's work, though you are totally spot on about her sometimes going, "heck, I'll just write whatever and it'll sell!" The Obsidian Trilogy is my absolute favorite Lackey, if you haven't read 'em holler and I'll loan you mine. The Black Swan is also very good, except for unfortunate rapeyness that I bet she wishes she could go back and unwrite because she's usually pretty on top of stuff like that. It is still a good book though.