- Series: Elemental Masters (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: DAW; First Edition edition (April 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0756400600
- ISBN-13: 978-0756400606
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 108 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Gates of Sleep (Elemental Masters, Book 2) Hardcover – April 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Putting a fresh face to a well-loved fairytale is not an easy task, but it is one that seems effortless to the prolific Lackey, best known for her Valdemar series (Arrows of the Queen, etc.). In a brilliant twist, the author sets the classic story of Sleeping Beauty in Edwardian England, imbuing her characters with the power of elemental magic, including the cursed child herself, Marina Roeswood. In an uninvited visit to her christening, Marina's evil aunt, Arachne, arrives in a puff of smoke and delivers a deadly curse, which is mitigated by the blessing of a family friend who imparts one last gift on the baby. Marina's guardians spirit her away to the Devon countryside to grow up. When we next see her, Marina is galloping through her 17th year, pursuing her magical training, though her guardians have tragically kept her ignorant of the curse. The inevitable triggering of said curse, when she turns 18, pits Marina's intelligence, cunning and magic skills against the full force of satanic evil. Beautiful phrasing and a thorough grounding in the dress, mannerisms and history of the period help move the story along gracefully. Marina's character, along with those of her guardians, her friends and Arachne, are fully fleshed out and credible. The fact that a teenage half-trained water mage would even dare to take on a 40ish satanist may be a bit implausible, but only on second thought. This is a wonderful example of a new look at an old theme.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Fanciful and winsome, Sleep is a fantastical version of "Sleeping Beauty" set in England at the turn of the 20th century. Taken care of by family friends since infancy and surrounded by mages, Marina lives a charmed life. Befriended by water sprites, nymphs, and the like, she slowly comes to know why her loving parents sent her away. Tragically, just before her 18th birthday, they die in an "accident," and Marina is ripped from her idyllic country home by her coldly beautiful Aunt Arachne. The woman is controlling and harsh, yet even to the magically gifted she doesn't appear evil. Despite the lack of evidence, Marina's instincts gnaw at her, and fortunately she listens. A visit to one of her aunt's pottery factories provides unpleasant revelations both physical and metaphysical. Old-fashioned manners, dress, and speech set the tone in this pleasantly escapist novel. Mixed in are light touches of modern issues such as feminism and eco-awareness. YAs who liked fairy tales as kids will enjoy Lackey's spin on an old favorite.
Sheila Shoup, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Mercedes Lackey combines an historical romance with the fairy tale of sleeping beauty and comes up with something really different. As far as I could tell, her research of England in the 1890s is very accurate. There were very nice references to William Morris and the Arts and Craft movement, pre-Raphealite art, William Blake, and contemporary political issues such as child labor and votes for women that added to my enjoyment of the book.
She does a marvelous job at breathing life into characters. The main character is a spunky 17-year old who seems natural and appealing.
On the whole, I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes historical novels who is ready to try something a little different.
Is it great literature? No. But it is a competent work and an enjoyable read.
While that book is a genuine 5 star masterpiece, "The Gates of Sleep" is a little jewel. Don't let this confuse you. It is quietly full of marvelous things, like the description of the faun at the shrine of Pan in the garden, or the description of Marina's bedroom frescoes.
This loose series of books is based on fairy tales...this one is Sleeping Beauty, the last one was Snow White, and the previous one to that was Beauty and the Beast. But Lackey hasn't done a "retelling" rather she has written a terrific story using the plot of the fairy story.
The "environmentalism" in the story feels just a tad too "modern" to be Victorian England, and the character of Marina becomes a little too grown up a little too fast without fully developing her, and the ending is a bit abrupt, even though the fairy story is, too.
But these are minor quibbles, small kvetches.
The characters are drawn well, three-dimensional, and realistic, even the villains.
This book keeps Mercedes Lackey on my must-buy list.
Bananaslug. at Baen's Bar