Monday, April 16, 2007

Fortune's Fool; Mercedes Lackey

This author seems to walk the line between fantasy and romance without falling into either category. Fortune's Fool is the third 500 Kingdoms novel I've read, only one of which really seemed romantic (the first one), if that makes any sense. Now that I know what to expect from her, I'm ok with the hybrid style. I'd never read Ms.Lackey's work before the first 500 Kingdoms title, I was disappointed in the second and now that I'm done with the third I feel like I'm on an even keel as far as Ms. Lackey's style and take on the Luna books.

Ekaterina is the seventh daughter of the Sea King's 14 children. As some of you may know, seventh children often have a special fate. Katya is precocious and observant and easily transitions from sea to land. Seeing this, her father makes her his spy. While in Nippon (equivalent to feudal Japan) on a mission, Katya receives a magic origami bird from a Japanese spirit as a gift for her help. Later, on another mission for her father, the bird will be a major player in Katya's efforts.

The hero is Sasha ______, can't remember his surname, but he's the seventh son of the King of Led Belarus. Not only that, Sasha is a Songweaver. Among other duties he roams his father's kingdom singing carefully crafted yet easily remembered singable songs praising the kingdom's positive qualities & traits & other songs that chase off any would be magical predators. These songs help shape the paths the Tradition will take in Led Belarus, thus ensuring the continuing Led Belarus' prosperity. Sasha is definitely what the romance community would call a beta hero- quiet & unassuming & intelligent, but more than capable of catching & holding what he wants.

Sasha & Katya meet at the seaside in a remote part of his father's kingdom. Each is alone & feels isolated for different reasons, but they strike up a friendship & eventually become lovers. The Tradition, around which each person in the 500 Kingdoms must work, has a couple of set storylines Sasha & Katya will be pushed to follow unless they can work out a way around it (the Tradition seems to be composed of known fairytale types; certain storylines have one or two or several possible endings depending on the characters involved). Will Sasha & Katya manage to thwart what the Tradition has in store for them? What happens when a new magical being, foreign to this area, moves in & takes over some other being's castle?

This is one of the few romances where the hero & heroine are both virgins. Not only that, the first time they have intercourse is true to actual experience. That is to say: fumbling, short, painful and unfulfilling for the female. Unlike most first time sex scenes in romances where the hero manages to get the heroine to be multi orgasmic from the start. A tiny bit of realism is always welcome, IMO. The visuals in the first few chapters reminded me very strongly of the Disney movie The Little Mermaid, but fortunately that washed away as I read along. Characters from previous 500 Kingdoms novels appreared: Sergei the ugly little horse and Gina and Adamant the pair of dragons. What else? Baba Yaga appears, as does the katschei from the Firebird Suite (among other places). There is a passing nod to Brian Jacques' series of books about forest animals.

Ms. Lackey's 500 Kingdom novels may not appeal to romance readers expecting a clear depiction of the developing relationship. I approached this book from a fantasy POV & found it highly satisfying. It is set up as a quest fantasy/adventure romance. Published this year by Luna.


Kailana said...

I really want to read this book but since I have book 1 and 2 in paperback I am making myself wait...

Jenster said...

I haven't read anything by this author before, but I think I'd like her. One more reason to check out the library!

ag said...

I've been trying to hunt down all the 500 Kingdom tales. I've finished with The Black Swan and Fairy Godmother is just sitting on my shelf.

This one sounds good Fantasy work by Lackey.

Bookwormom said...

Kailana- It's good for your willpower to wait. At least that's what my mother always said.

Jenster- Better get moving your library list will be a mile long soon!

AG- Hadn't heard of that one, but I think I'll look it up. SOunds intriguing.