- Series: A Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Luna; Original edition (June 29, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 037380315X
- ISBN-13: 978-0373803156
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 133 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,463,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Sleeping Beauty (A Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms) Hardcover – June 29, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Welcome to Eltaria, the land where fairy tales come true. A magical force known as the Tradition focuses on the beautiful Princess Rosamund shortly after her mother's death. After fleeing the Royal Huntsman, Rosamund meets the seven dwarfs, drinks a potion, and falls asleep. When Viking hero Siegfried finds her, he tries to kiss her awake--but Lily, Rosamund's fairy godmother, has other ideas and manipulates events to satisfy the Tradition while giving Rosamund a chance at a loving prince and happy ending. Lackey's fifth fairy tale retelling (after 2008's The Snow Queen) also includes passing nods to "Hansel and Gretel," "The Frog Prince," and "Puss-in-Boots," along with cameo appearances by Brunnhilde and Wotan. Despite plenty of twists and laughs, the plot is surprisingly forgettable, and most of the fun comes from finding all the fairy tale in-jokes peppering the pages.
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About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey has written over one hundred titles and has no plans to slow down. Known best for her tales of Valdemar and The Five Hundred Kingdoms, she's also a prolific lyricist and records her own music.
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It's also a very good thing that the Forest Bird who attaches herself to Siegfried is not the bird-brain that she is in Wagner's opera - she actually gives good advice, and he has the common sense to take it.
Leopold is a delight, and some of his ancestor's booted, talking cat's tomcattish ways seem to have rubbed off on him.
And then there's Rosa (never mind the cover, she's a blonde), who manages to get herself out of everything The Tradition tries to force her into, sometimes with outside assistance.
And the mastermind behind almost all of it is a for-real Fairy Godmother - who gets a surprise romance of her own (no, *not* the King - that's just a marriage of convenience,and The Tradition terminates it with extreme prejudice).
Delicious, and it holds up even after multiple re-readings (which can't be said for *every* Lackey book).
Plot/Storyline: 4.75 stars
When she doesn't get distracted into preaching mode, there are few who can match Lackey for sheer storytelling, as she demonstrates again in this book combining elements from several different fairy tales. From the fast start, the reader is never given a chance to draw breath as the plot-driven tale rocks from one danger to the next. There is the usual slight disjointedness as Lackey tends to write several sequential stories rather than a single unified storyline, but each story is enjoyable on its own, and Lily's desperate attempts to come up with suitable trials are sheer genius. There are a few minor plot holes. It didn't make sense that an evil sorcerer is able to hide from experienced godmother Lily but sets inept spells to control Rosa. I'm not convinced that the final great plan to protect Eltaria would be less expensive than war, although it was certainly creative! The ending was a little disappointing, but believable and consistent with the existing canon. However, these quibbles don't change the fact that the story gripped me almost immediately and never let go. There are very few series that I will buy immediately, even by authors I generally like; the turning-classics-sideways Five Hundred Kingdoms is one of them, and this is a worthy addition to an enjoyable and satisfying collection. About the only people I can think of who wouldn't enjoy this book would be those who don't like fantasy of any kind.
Characters: 5 stars
The main characters are well-drawn, and their pure goodness (as well as the pure evil of the bad guys) is believable because it is required by The Tradition. But even within those limitations, Lackey was able to make them more interesting. Rosa is eager to learn self-defense. Siegfried's thews of iron cover an actual brain, and his aid to animals is classic Hero behavior as well as foreshadowing. Godmother Lily combines Fae cleverness and human determination with a natural despair at being able to manipulate The Tradition to adequately protect her kingdom. The secondary characters include a lisping unicorn, whose dopey behavior around virgins again lends a delightful comic note, as well as obnoxious dwarves and a smart-mouthed mirror servant. Lackey also managed a character who had both good and bad qualities, and who the reader couldn't anticipate would be a help or hindrance in any particular situation. As usual, some characters did not behave as a fairy tale reader would expect!
Writing style: 5 stars
Dialogue moves along well and displays distinct voices for the characters. Descriptions are appropriate and left me feeling I could see the dwarves' hovel or find my way around the castle.
The Sleeping Beauty is about what happens when Rosa and Lily try to thwart The Tradition (a force of magic which is determined to see the classic Faerie Tales come true) and create their own happy ending. Lily has been Godmother of the Kingdom for generations, and she is determined to avoid some of the less pleasant endings for Rosa, and to keep the Kingdom from going to war with any or all its 5 neighbors. In order to prevent this from happening, Lily invites Princes and adventurers from all over the world, and using them as Royal Hostages. To gain from this for the Princes, is Rosa's hand. Her Kingdom is extremely wealthy, and any Prince would benefit from becoming it's King. Joining Lily and Rosa in the cast are Seigfried -- a Prince who is set on defying his own predestined path in The Tradition, and Leopold who is a second son cursed with being too likable.
Throughout the novel, characters from earlier books in the 500 Kingdoms are casually mentioned, as the series rarely takes a direct sequel approach, and more commonly just takes place within the same world. Characters from traditional faerie tales also make appearances here and there, such as The Frog Prince, and a twist on the seven dwarves.
I always have a lot of fun reading books from this universe, and they are a good light and funny read. Mercedes Lackey rarely disappoints, and I would recommend this to any fan of retold Faerie tales, with just a recommendation to start earlier in the series for those new to it.