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Customer Review

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dazzling retelling of Swan Lake!, April 25, 2001
This review is from: The Black Swan (Fairy Tale Series, Book 2) (Mass Market Paperback)
I've always loved the story of the beautiful princess who was turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer and permitted to retain her true form only in moonlight. The Black Swan is a wonderful retelling of the Swan Lake fairy tale, with ideas from the animation version, The Swan Princess.
Mercedes Lackey produces a detailed and thorough account with insights on the characters - mostly of Odile, the daughter of the evil sorcerer von Rothbart (left out in The Swan Princess), Prince Siegfried, and Queen Clothilde (his mother), the ones that are generally overlooked. Odile is portrayed as an intelligent young woman, neglected by her father, whose only wish is his love and approval. However, von Rothbart cares little for her, especially since she is so clever and seemingly about to exceed himself. She is in charge of the flock of women-turned-swans, and finds friendship in them. Siegfried is a selfish lecher, until his actions come back to haunt him. (I thought that that was a shocking and revolting stage and I was really relieved when he changed his ways, though the transformation was a bit odd and sudden, and he didn't give up all of his bad habits.) Clothilde adds excitement to the story, a factor new to the whole Swan Lake plot. The scheming queen will do anything to ensure that the throne is hers alone.
Though I appreciated the elucidation of the characters surrounding the story, I was kinda bummed that Odette was pushed to the very back and we are given almost no details on her character, except in a rare occasion through Odile. I wanted to know a bit more on her past and her development - she is after all, the "main attraction", the center of the story. Nevertheless, The Black Swan is a really satisfying retelling of Swan Lake. I'm glad that it still followed the main story line and wasn't too much of a heavy fantasy (I can never make out the weird names, kingdoms, and magical aspects). This is a great book for mature readers (I say this because the content is a bit dirty at times), especially fans of fairy tales and fantasies!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 28, 2008 11:54:49 PM PDT
R. Chuang says:
While some people have expressed concerns about Odette not being more prominent in the novel, we need to remember that this novel focuses on -Odile- as the main character, and as such Odette becomes a secondary character in the novel.

However, I do have to say that this novel does amazing justice to the ballet, tremendously fleshing out characters far beyond what could be done in a ballet that lasts about two hours and ten minutes (the average length of most versions of the ballet performed on-stage). The novel definitely brings out the evil intentions of von Rothbart quite well.
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