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Red Hood's Revenge (Princess Novels) Mass Market Paperback – July 6, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The third of Hines's reimagined princess tales (after The Stepsister Scheme and The Mermaid's Madness) transcends its predecessors with exciting combat scenes and emotionally complex characters. Warrior princess Talia (Sleeping Beauty) killed the prince who raped her while she slept, and then fled the desert land of Arathea. When the prince's mother sends infamous shape-shifting assassin Roudette (Red Riding Hood) after her, Roudette, Talia, and fellow princess-adventurers Danielle (Cinderella) and Snow (Snow White) make an uncomfortable alliance against the real enemies: the capricious fairy powers who have kept Arathea under their control for over a hundred years. Far more than a modernized retelling, Hines's work is a real synthesis of cultural tropes into a unique world that is worth visiting again and again.
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About the Author
Jim C. Hines has been a paid juggler, earned a black belt in two different martial arts, performed yo-yo tricks at the top of the Eiffel Tower, and lived with a brain-damaged squirrel. (Only three of those are true.) One of his earliest stories earned first place in the Writers of the Future contest. He’s published more than forty short stories as well as numerous fantasy novels, including the humorous Jig the Dragonslayer trilogy, the Princess series, which re-imagines traditional fairy-tale princesses as butt-kicking action heroines, and the Magic Ex Libris series, about a centuries-old secret society dedicated to the use and control of book magic. In 2012, he won the Hugo for Best Fan Writer. Jim lives in Michigan with his wife, two children, and an unstable number of pets. He can be found online at www.jimchines.com.
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The characterizations are, as always in Hines's tales, fantastic. Danielle is learning to be a princess rather than a servant--no easy task. Snow is facing the fact that her magic is harming her and aging her, and yet she needs it. Talia is a deadly fighter, but strength of arms is not what she'll most need when she has to face her old mentor, a former lover, and a host of enemies--as well as potential allies. Roudette seems like a straightforward enemy at first, but of course there turns out to be much more to her than meets the eye.
Talia's homeland is richly detailed, making it easy for the reader to see, taste, and smell the cities and deserts. Hines as always mixes the darkness of what comes after the supposed `happily ever after' with tidbits of humor, but the series does get darker as it goes. I can't imagine not getting sucked into the fears, adventures, and successes of the three princesses and the formidable queen they follow.
Red Hood's Revenge is the third in Jim Hines' "Princess Novels". I used to describe this series as "Charlie's Angels meets Disney Princesses, but with plot." I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do that anymore - simply because this series has grown strong enough that such comparisons don't do justice to Jim's books.
Sure, the three main characters - Danielle, Talia, and Snow - are based on Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. But they - just as with Roudette (Red Riding Hood) - are not the saccharine helpless maids marketed by the mouse. They are fully realized characters set in a rich world of thier own. Red Hood's Revenge is inspired by these fables the same way that O Brother Where Art Thou is inspired by the Odyessy. Familiar elements (a red cloak, a spell of sleeping) show up, but in a fully imagined original world.
I cannot recommend Jim's books strongly enough. They are a great blend of epic fantasy elements with fully realized characters and setting, while dodging the problems (and weight) of a typical fantasy epic.
One small note: Issues of sexuality and romance are addressed in this book. The action takes place "offscreen", so to speak. If it were a movie, I'd rate it PG, and I'm comfortable with my 12-year-old reading it.
Hines takes the fable of Little Red Riding Hood and injects a sinister, tragic twist. Decades later, Roudette, bitter and scarred and armed with her enchanted red cloak, has fostered a reputation as a fearsome assassin, and she now sets her eyes on Princess Danielle Whiteshore née de Glas of Lorindar... or so we initially assume. Danielle - once upon a time known as Cinderella - isn't your typical princess, and she and her friends, the formidable warrior Talia and the sorceress Snow (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, respectively), bring the fight to the Lady of the Red Hood. Once upon a time, there were princesses who didn't need rescuing.
I am really high on this series and, if anything, this third book RED HOOD'S REVENGE only elevates the mad love. Danielle, Talia, and Snow are so very well-written and fleshed out, and I love the interactions among the three (although the established relationships get thrown out of whack with the introduction of an old friend of Talia's). Hines then inserts a brooding, tragic anti-heroine in the person of Roudette (maybe Talia wasn't holding down the fort in that department). Roudette and Talia are essentially the same side of the coin, the difference being that Talia has gotten a few breaks, whereas the Lady of the Red Hood never had a chance. Roudette was always fated to go down her bleak road.
Danielle takes more of a back seat in this one, the story focusing more on Snow and decidedly more on Talia. RED HOOD'S REVENGE presents a decidedly more Arabian Nights flavor as Hines writes of Sleeping Beauty's eventful return to her arid homeland of Arathea, a kingdom co-habitated by fairies and humans, humans being the subservient race in this equation. In the course of their adventures, the girls fall prey to the eldritch Wild Hunt and are caught up in a sweeping conspiracy to overthrow the Arathean throne. The irony is that Talia would prefer nothing better than for a revolution to come about. Arathea's current ruler desperately craves the death of Sleeping Beauty. Talia, after all, did murder her son, the Prince, even if the circumstances were entirely mitigating. And a living (and awake) Sleeping Beauty, the kingdom's true hereditary monarch and back from exile, is a perennial threat to the crown. In this go-around, the writer offers treachery, twists, revelations, unrequited love, old friends, requited love, handsome princes who sit at home while the women do the work, Danielle's cleverness and statesmanship, Talia's rousing heroics, Snow's costly mirror magic... and a not at all guaranteed happily ever after. RED HOOD'S REVENGE is darker and richer, is set on a larger scale and, well, is it the most satisfying of the three books? It's certainly the best read so far. Even if I'm growing more and more concerned about Snow and that head injury of hers.
I hope to see some of the new characters introduced in this book in later books. Really like the Red Riding Hood twist, it actually seemed more believable than the original tale.
Can't wait for the next book.