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Review: Books 1-3 of Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms

July 12, 2012
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by Mercedes Lackey

This is a three book anthology from the Science Fiction Book Club.  I enjoyed these books.  They are entertaining retelling of various fairy tales with a twist.  The theme that runs through the books is the Tradition which is a magical energy that  causes people throughout the Five Hundred Kingdoms to replay fairy tales in some shape or form.  There are those that help shape the Tradition or redirect it, for good and bad, but there is no avoiding it.  Filled with magical characters such as brainless unicorns who fawn over virgins, male or female.

In “The Fairy Godmother“, Elena is a Cinderella-figure with no Prince to rescue her.  So being of a practical sort,  she goes looking for a job and ends up becoming an apprentice Fairy Godmother where she learns all about Tradition and how to deal with it.  She also learns how to start new traditions and manages to find her own “happily ever after”.  Filled with evil step-mothers, spoiled step-sisters, magical animals, Faerie and princes who learn about something besides privilege.

In “One Good Knight“, a too-smart-for-her-own-good princess becomes the virgin sacrifice for a dragon but instead leads the tale to a completely nontraditional happy ending.  Filled with dragons, maidens, a sorcerer,  unusual Champions and love that knows no boundary.

In “Fortune’s Fool“, a not-so-helpless princess finds her prince only to have to solve the problem of an evil Jinn in a kingdom where he doesn’t belong.  Filled with a Sea King, his daughter, a Fortunate Fool/Song Weaver, Queen of Copper Mountain, ghosts, rusklas, shapeshifters, magical maidens, wise animals, a origami bird and the unusual Champions.

If you like fairy tales these are good books to read.  Good for adolescents (if you do not mind them reading a few sex scenes that are rather vague in details) and adults.  I wouldn’t call the tales enthralling but they are engaging.

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