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This Scepter'd Isle (The Doubled Edge, Book 1) Hardcover – February 3, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
In this exciting historical fantasy from veterans Lackey (Exile's Valor) and Gellis (Bull God), Rhoslyn and Pasgen Silverhair, elven twins kidnapped by Vidal Dhu and raised as Unseleighe Sidhe, receive alternative visions of the future. In one, a red-headed child born to Henry VIII ascends to the throne after the king's death, leading Britain into a prosperous and joyous future. In the other, another child rules, and with her coronation opens Britain to the fires of the Inquisition. Unbeknownst to Rhoslyn and Pasgen, however, the same double vision comes to their half-siblings among the Bright Court elves, Denoriel and Aleneil. Thus inspired, the two sets of twins set out to force the future they each desire. Denoriel attaches himself to Henry FitzRoy, the bastard son of Henry VIII, who may be the key to ensuring the red-headed child's rule, while Rhoslyn assumes a place in Princess Mary's household. FitzRoy, who grows from a sweet, innocent child into a sweet, innocent young adult, and Denoriel, who goes from reluctant nursemaid to dedicated almost father, get most of the attention, but it's the dark twins who provide the most interest. The mental, magical and eventually physical battle between the two sets of twins speeds the entertaining plot along, and knowledgeable readershey, that Anne Boleyn is going to lose her headwill enjoy the interplay between elven intervention and historical fact.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Lackey and Gellis' account of elvish intervention in the intrigues of the court of King Henry VIII of England is quite competently written, but then one expects no less from these authors, either separately or in collaboration. The human protagonist is Harry Fitzroy, Henry's illegitimate son. About the time Henry started thinking of divorcing Catherine of Aragon, there was a fair amount of speculation in the courts of Europe as to whether he would declare his only son--Harry Fitzroy--his heir. In the world conjured by Lackey and Gellis, both the bright and the dark elvish court seek to control the "red-haired babe" who will bring England to greatness. Since at least three of Henry's children were red-haired as infants, confusion and intrigue--the latter initiated by the elves, directly and through their human servants--abound, making for an entertainingly convoluted complex of plots and subplots. This magical Tudor court makes for a fun read, without doing violence to anything known about any historical character involved. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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This is the first book of four in this series and covers the period from Henry VIII's early infatuation with Anne Boleyn to her death. The human character that this volume revolves around is Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII's illegitimate son, who somehow is important to the survival of the red-haired babe. The Bright Court Elf assigned to protect him, Denoriel, is one of two sets of twins whose lives become intertwined as the series goes on. The book ends with an attempt by the Dark Court to abduct the "red-haired babe" (now revealed as the future Elizabeth I) after Anne's death. The attempt fails, but both Denoriel and Fitzroy are seriously injured. They are taken to an Elven healer and both require a prolonged period of healing. Denoriel's absence from the mortal world can easily be explained, but Fitzroy must apparently die in the mortal world to allow him to be healed and live on.
This is one of the neat ways the plot is reconciled with "real world" happenings throughout the series. The reader is so drawn into the fictional history that books describing the actual history of the period seem to be incorrect. An occasional reality check is in order if the reader can put the book down for that long.
See the reign of King Henry VIII through the eyes of the Queen of Historical fiction, Roberta Gellis. Her grasp of the life and times of Renaissance England is astute. Her research is impeccable and her talent is legion. Nobody writes history like Ms. Gellis as evidenced in works like The Roselynde Chronicles, and The Magdalene la Batarde trilogy of A Mortal Bane, A Personal Devil and Bone of Contention.
Very few authors can compare with the skilled and imaginative world building of Mercedes Lackey. From her wonderful Heralds, Companions, Hawbrothers, Bond Birds and other magical beings in the Heralds of Valdemar series, to the elves, bards and elvensteeds of the Serrated Edge series, her imagination takes flight and never lets up. Able to endow her characters and worlds with intelligence, emotion and magic, she is definitely top drawer in the fantasy world.
This book is rich with detailed and in depth description of a truly fantastical world! A world where the thought is parent to the deed and magic forces are controlled with the flick of a finger. A world where wondrous beauty can disguise malevolent evil that will stoop to any depths to insure the continued presence of despair, indignity and depravity for the benefit of its kind.
In the land of Underhill, two futures have been seen for the people of King Henry VIII of England by the Seleighe and Unseleigh alike, in their farseeing mirrors. One future is rife with evil and chaos. Persecution is rampant and prevails over the mortal lands. The other future blossoms with prosperity, art, and music. All is well and happiness flourishes.
Both futures hinge on the life of one red-haired, red-face, scowling, squalling infant, as seen held in the arms of King Henry VIII in their visions. Who is the child? Has it even been born? Is it male or female? Does it's life? Or death? determine the wondrous future seen? If the child is born will it need to live or die to fulfill the wondrous future? These are questions the Seleighe and Unseleighe must find answers to in order to further their own future existence.
The Seleighe decide that the child will need to be born and live to insure the happiness and wellbeing of England and its people. To that end, they choose Denoriel and Aleneil, twin brother and sister, to go into the mortal world as protectors and guardians of the red-haired child. Denoriel's first words when hearing of the decision "But I am a warrior, not a nursemaid!" He soon comes to see that his future is set and he must grow determined to protect this child with his very life or see the Seleighe cease to exist.
The Unseleighe; who thrive and prosper on pain, evil and misery, are determined the child shall not live to reign after the death of King Henry. They will do anything to prevent the continued prosperity of England, even if they must attempt to prevent the birth of the child. Vidal Dhu, leader of the Unseleighe, has chosen Pasgen and Rhoslyn, also twin brother and sister, to guarantee that the child shall not survive to adulthood.
So the battle lines are drawn and the contest is about to begin. Will the Seleighe or Unseleighe prevail? Will Denoriel manage to confound and confuse the evil Pasgen over the identity of the child? Will Pasgen's machinations conquer all and guarantee the domination of Vidal Dhu over England's lush countryside? Enter Underhill and see the forces of good versus evil battle for the life of one precious, child.
Come walk through the medieval worlds of England and Underhill where Seleighe and Unseleighe determine the fate of England. You'll be glad you came and will look forward to the next volume in this saga.