Mercedes Lackey continues her 500 Kingdoms series with her version of The Sleeping Beauty which combines elements of the traditional fairy tale with characters from Wagner’s Ring Cycle operas. Queen Celeste of Eltaria has died and left her daughter the fair Rosamund motherless, thereby causing Tradition to try to force her into the mold of countless comely princesses of fairy tales. Godmother Lily is determined to prevent the destruction of the wealthy kingdom that she has protected for 300 years therefore she steps into the role of the “evil” stepmother. Tradition is determined to manipulate events and the constant threat of war from Eltaria’s greedy neighbors is a very real possibility, particularly after Rosamund is hounded into the forest by the Hunstman and becomes the captive of seven non-Disneyesque dwarves. The elements of the Snow White tale collide with the Sleeping Beauty Path and Lily must find a way to force a happy ending. Naturally, a Hero must make his appearance but the two princes who show up have their own issues, Siegfried is trying to avoid saving a maiden in a ring of fire since it would trigger his own Doom and Leopold has gotten through life using his charm and seductive abilities without ever having to work hard. These two princes become cogs in a massive event involving multiple contenders that Lily concocts to protect her beloved kingdom but of course any good fairy tale ends with only one handsome prince winning the hand of the fair maiden.
Ms. Lackey continues to adeptly animate the rather insipid traditional characters in her entertaining retelling of beloved fairy tales. Much of the charm of these stories lies in the author’s ability to sketch imaginative backgrounds for the characters and endow them with personality and interesting characteristics. The traditional inhabitant of the mirror is named Jimson, a unicorn with a speech impediment who becomes an invaluable ally, the seven dwarves are an unkempt pack and Brunnhilde has her own ideas about her fate. This is a thoroughly entertaining and somewhat skewed version of the Sleeping Beauty legend, can’t wait for the next in the series.
Heavy is the head—and the eyelids—of the princess who wears the crown…
In Rosamund's realm, happiness hinges on a few simple beliefs:
For every princess there's a prince.
The king has ultimate power.
Stepmothers should never be trusted.
And bad things come to those who break with Tradition….
But when Rosa is pursued by a murderous huntsman and then captured by dwarves, her beliefs go up in smoke. Determined to escape and save her kingdom from imminent invasion, she agrees to become the guinea pig in one of her stepmother's risky incantations—thus falling into a deep, deep sleep. When awakened by a touchy-feely stranger, Rosa must choose between Tradition and her future…between a host of eligible princes and a handsome, fair-haired outsider. And learn the difference between being a princess and ruling as a queen.
The moral of the story? Sometimes a princess has to create her own happy endings….