Adventures in Reading

The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

For a long time I have considered myself a fan of fantasy, though truth be known I am more a fan of Terry Pratchett who is considered a fantasy author. From time to time, I get the urge to strike out into new fantastical geographies and most recently, I stumbled across Mercedes Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms series. This series is Lackey’s exploration of western classical fairytales, but rather than simply retelling the story, Lackey grasps the source at the root.

In the world of Five Hundred Kingdoms is The Tradition or “The way that magic tries to set things on a particular course […] And there are dozens and dozens of […] tales that The Tradition is trying to recreate, all the time, and perhaps one in a hundred actually becomes a tale.” In The Fairy Godmother Witches, Hedge-Wizards, Sorcerers, Sorceresses but particularly Godmothers and Wizards herd this power. Like shepherds finding sheep, when a Godmother observes a story unfolding she will recommend (with a few nudges and prods) the story towards a correct or better direction.

Elena Klovis was born to be a Cinderella, but once her eighteenth birthday passes and no prince has appeared her story begins to follow another course. Her stepfamily leaves town because of outstanding debts and Godmother Bella appears in town to recruit Elena. From here, The Fairy Godmother follows Elena through her training, her involvement in fairy tales, and finally a romantic tryst with a Champion that breaks and smashes all the established rules of The Tradition.

The Fairy Godmother is a fun book and the first in what looks to be a promising series exploring fairy tales and possibly how to break them. I did find the book in parts too long and a little too detailed. The risk of retelling known stories, no matter how delightful a fashion, is that your reader is already familiar with the tale and usually the outcome and thus I found myself scanning the last thirty pages or so. In addition, Lackey seemed to have many ideas for The Fairy Godmother that could have spilled over into a second book. Lackey definitely incorporates ideas and themes from the romance genre into this book, which I am not such a fan of. [1]

I enjoyed my adventures with Mercedes Lackey’s The Fairy Godmother, it was a pleasant book, and I am looking forward to picking up the second book in the series One Good Knight for more light reading. It also feels good to spread my fledging fantasy wings a bit more.

[1] There is nothing wrong with sex, violence, “bad words,” etc. in a book if it serves a purpose and makes sense. But (as with The Fairy Godmother) if it can be removed and doesn’t detract from the story, I find it superfluous and more often than not a bit ridiculous.

My review on One Good Knight.