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Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey

The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Fantasy
Length: Full (345 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Holly

Godmother Lily serves the Kingdom of Eltaria, which may be the most imperiled of all the Five Hundred Kingdoms. It has the misfortune of being small, rich, and surrounded with enemies. Governing it has been a constant juggling trick.

But now The Tradition has decided to land the blow of making the King a widower, and his daughter the Fairest In The Land. This can only mean bad things for the King, the Princess Rosa, and above all, the Kingdom itself.

The Tradition. It is what rules the lives of all in the Five Hundred Kingdoms. The Godmothers do what they can to work around it so people aren’t forced to a fate they don’t deserve or want.

Godmother Lily needs to find a way to thwart the Tradition and help Rosamund become more than another pawn to it. Lily has been the Godmother of Eltaria for three hundred years, with the help of her brownies and her trusted mirror servant Jimson, but the death of Queen Celeste has created a buildup of the Tradition unlike any she has seen before. Since it was demanding Rosamund have an Evil Stepmother, Lily works with the King to become Queen Sable, a dark sorceress, giving them time for more planning.

Siegfried von Drachenthal is a Hero trying to avoid the Tradition as well, as his father keeps trying to wed him to the Sleeping Woman. Prince Leopold is looking for something as well, a way to succeed as the younger son in a family of many. Can they all work together to give Rosamund the chance at happiness outside the Tradition? Can they overcome kidnapping, danger, and trials of all kinds for the happy ever after? Can they come up with a plan to keep Eltaria secure and free?

I love Mercedes Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms series. They are a mix of traditional fairy tales, with small and deliciously funny twists throughout. The Sleeping Beauty is no exception.

There is the Godmother, Lily, determined to prevent the Tradition from determining Rosamund’s fate. She is wise enough to know that some of the things can’t be avoided, so she manipulates them to suit her purposes. The heroine, Rosamund, is intelligent and beautiful and more than capable of choosing her own destiny. She shows great wit and skill in facing each of the challenges thrown at her. Our heroes, Leopold and Siegfried, are handsome and strong, but totally different in demeanor. Siegfried is trying to avoid his own problems with the Tradition, while Leopold, as a younger son, is looking to make a good match.

The solution Lily comes up with to buy time is a series of tests to find the best candidate to wed Rosamund, after inviting the eligible nobles from the surrounding kingdoms to participate.

I loved the gentle love story that developed between one of our heroes and Rosamund as the trials progressed. I enjoyed the independence that Rosamund showed in learning to defend herself if necessary. This is a delightful twist on Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and the Norse Siegfried fable, with lots of humor--much of it tongue-in-cheek.

Is there a happy ever after in this one? Actually there are three and two were a surprise I didn’t see coming.