Sunday, 5 September 2010

CBR2 Book 75: "The Sleeping Beauty" by Mercedes Lackey

Publisher: Luna Books
Page count: 352 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: August 16th, 2010
Date finished: August 18th, 2010

Lily is fairy Godmother to the kingdom of Eltaria. The kingdom needs to be carefully watched, and Lily's job as Godmother is to make sure the Tradition goes in the favour of the rulers and inhabitants of the country. The Tradition is a force that pretty much takes any situation and tries to turn it into a fairy tale or folk tale direction - not necessarily one with a happy ending. Eltaria is a very rich kingdom, with many bordering kingdoms who would like nothing better than to conquer it and take control of those riches. Princess Rosamund is without a doubt the fairest in all the land, her mother was a shepherdess who married the king, and as a result, the princess has learned a number of useful life skills most princess might not be in possession of.

Now her lovely mother is dead, however, and Tradition is trying to get the king to marry a sorceress so princess Rose gets an evil stepmother. Lily poses as a sorceress and pretends to marry to the king, calming Tradition for the moment, but soon the king dies in battle, the princess is an orphan, and before Lily can react, an evil huntsman has chased Rose into the woods, where she is found by seven very unpleasant dwarves and forced to be their kitchen slave. Lily manages to rescue Rose and trick Tradition again by causing her to fall heavily asleep with a potion. Two princes arrive, both wanting to kiss Rosamund awake, but Lily wants the princess to be able to choose her own husband, and makes sure she's the one who wakes the princess. Now Lily just needs to figure out a way to secure that Rosamund can find true love, and that Eltaria is safe from outside invasion for the foreseeable future, without the Tradition interfering too much.

Mercedes Lackey's 500 Kingdoms novels are a fun concept, taking various well-known fairy tales and turning them into something new and different. There are traces of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the Rings of the Nibelungen and a number of other traditional stories in The Sleeping Beauty, and at the same time, it's entirely its own story. Rose is not an insipid and stupid princess, she is resourceful and clever and helps Lily as best she can with sorting out the mess her kingdom is in.

Both the main princes, Siegfried and Leopold, are charming and good potential husbands for princess. Siegfried is trying to fight Tradition as well, as he is meant to rescue one of his many aunts from a burning circle and marry her, thus also bringing about his own doom. Naturally, he does not really want to do this, but Tradition is becoming more insistent and he keeps finding sleeping armored maidens in burning circles all over the place. Having slain a dragon at an early age, and drunk a drop of its blood, he can talk to animals, and with the help of a little bird, he does his best to find a different fate.

The Sleeping Beauty is the third of Lackey's 500 Kingdoms-novels that I've read, and I will absolutely be checking out more of them, if she keeps writing as well as she has so far.

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