Monday, November 1, 2010

Mercedes Lackey's 500 Kingdoms Week: The Fairy Godmother

I admit up front, I am a big Mercedes Lackey fan, ever since I read Magic's Pawn (The Last Herald-Mage Series, Book 1). I devoured the rest of the series, and almost everything she's put out since then.

So when she started a new series, devoted to a magical land where a fairy tale Tradition forces people into unhappy situations in order to play out the same stories over and over--let's just say, my resistance was nil.

In this world, the Five Hundred Kingdoms, a powerful magical force called the Tradition acts to put people in their places--in commonly told stories. Magicians, sorcerers, and witches are all able to harness this magical power, so "evil" magic users are drawn to princesses or maidens or heroes around whom the Tradition is acting strongly, setting them up for stories to replay over and over. Some of the only people to truly understand this power are the Godmothers (fairy or not), who see how the Tradition works in the wide scope, and are able to direct the power toward the happy endings versions of stories--if they can get there in time.

The trouble is, there aren't enough Godmothers, so when Elena finds herself at the mercy of her stepmother and sisters, the Tradition pushes her into the "Ella Cinders" path with no one to come to her aid. Not that it would do any good, since the nearest prince is about 7 years old. She has to take matters into her own hands, and so she sets out to find a job as a housekeeper for anyone else. And that's when she does meet a Godmother, and sets out on a new path of her own choosing.

While this series sometimes gets a bit heavy-handed, as far as telling-not-showing. Even so, this one moves along at a fairly good pace, and I love the concept of the world. It's fun to spot the references, from common tales to obscure, and see how Lackey has woven them into her tale.

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