Mercedes Lackey,
The Fairy Godmother
(Luna, 2004)

Luna, a new fantasy imprint targeting the genre for women, kicks off its first year of production with The Fairy Godmother by well-established fantasy author Mercedes Lackey.

In the parallel worlds of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, popular fairy tales are lived and relived in endless succession. The Tradition is a powerful force that bends lives and circumstances to match the familiar story patterns -- but sometimes, situations develop that take matters in entirely new directions.

Such is the case with Elena Klovis, a poor stepdaughter who was destined to be her kingdom's Cinderella. Everything was headed in the right direction ... except for the prince, who was far too young to be her romantic match. And so, Elena is swept up by the kingdom's resident Godmother and offered an apprenticeship in magic.

In no time at all, Elena -- with the cooperation of the Faerie realm -- is shaping events for any number of tales, playing the role of grand dame or wise old hag, as needed. When three sibling princes from a neighboring kingdom set out on a quest, she meets, greets and treats them accordingly; as custom dictates, the youngest and most foolish accomplishes his goal, while the older, more arrogant brothers earn suitable punishments. For one, that means his abrupt transformation into a donkey that must toil in the Godmother's own fields.

But then a villainous mage from another kingdom invades Elena's own, in defiance of the usual patterns....

From the redeemable Prince Alexander and the supposedly evil sorceress Arachnia to the lovably dim unicorns and the stalwart house brownies, Lackey demonstrates a practiced hand at clever characterization. While the romantic twist is predictable (and, ultimately, unnecessary), the warping of fairy-tale traditions in Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms is a delightfully fresh idea with a great deal of potential for future stories.

This lively, well-written book signals a healthy beginning for Luna. While the target audience is primarily female, the fledgling imprint should be cause for delight among any fantasy enthusiast.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 24 January 2004

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