As a lover of fairy tales, I was slightly apprehensive about reading Mercedes Lackey’s The Sleeping Beauty. Some authors simply replicate the overused cliches and “traditional” Disneyesque characteristics, but I shouldn’t have worried. Mercedes Lackey created a vivid world full of classic fairytale elements with her own unique, personal twist to it all in her latest addition to her Five Hundred Kingdoms series.
In Rosamund’s realm, happiness hinges on a few simple beliefs:
For every princess there’s a prince.
The king has ultimate power.
Stepmothers should never be trusted.
And bad things come to those who break with Tradition….
But when Rosa is pursued by a murderous huntsman and then captured by dwarves, her beliefs go up in smoke. Determined to escape and save her kingdom from imminent invasion, she agrees to become the guinea pig in one of her stepmother’s risky incantations—thus falling into a deep, deep sleep.
When awakened by a touchy-feely stranger, Rosa must choose between Tradition and her future…between a host of eligible princes and a handsome, fair-haired outsider. And learn the difference between being a princess and ruling as a queen.
The moral of the story? Sometimes a princess has to create her own happy endings….
In a melting pot of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seigfried Saga (mythology from the Germanic peoples of the Migration Period), The Sleeping Beauty has it all. A princess who is the fairest in the land; hordes of handsome princes vying for the princess’s hand in marriage through perilous trials; a Fairy Godmother who has been trying to keep the kingdom safe from their evil, greedy neighbors; an evil stepmother who isn’t all she seems to be; fire breathing dragons; and The Tradition – a magical power that tries to force every person down the path of the fairy tale that their life most parallels. With all of that and much, much more, there is never a dull moment or drag in the plot.
Often times in fairy tales, the princess is a beautiful weakling who can’t cook, clean or even think for herself. Princess Rosamund blows that tradition right out of this fairy tale. Her mother had taught her how to cook, clean and most important how to think when she was growing up. She may seem like the perfect princess, but she’s no Mary Sue. She has her faults and weaknesses and I was able to relate to her on a somewhat personal level.
Seigfried is a prince looking to out run The Tradition’s plan for his destiny: to wake up a princess with a kiss – but the princess The Tradition picked out is his cousin. That might seem weird but from his homeland, incest isn’t an oddity (his mother and father are also his aunt and uncle). That’s not to say Seigfried is anything like that, in fact, he ran away from home to escape his destiny and because he was so different (intellectually) from his family. He’s smart, compassionate, thinks of others before himself: basically he’s the perfect prince, despite that flawed background. Seigfried has spent most of his life going around doing hero activities, like fighting in battles, until he stumbles upon Rosa and hopes that he has found the escape from his destiny.
In true fairy tale fashion, Rosa’s stepmother set up a series of challenges and invited about a hundred princes to try their hand at each. The prize, of course, was Rosa’s hand in marriage. Nary a prince would refuse such an offer, and Seigfried eagerly joined. Each challenge was harder than the last, ensuring that more princes either failed or outright quit. It was fun watching the princes struggle, for both me and Rosa. Not that we’re sadistic, it was just added entertainment for the story.
Any girl, young or old, who loves fairy tales (and all they encompass) will adore Rosa, Seigfried and their story.
The Fairy Godmother
One Good Knight
The Snow Queen
The Sleeping Beauty
Also reviewed by: The Book Swarm, Long and Short Reviews, Mei’s Reviews, Avid Book Reader and Bookyurt
Wow, this book sounds interesting. I have one of her books here but I forget what it’s called, and I have heard nothing but good stuff about Lackey.
Great review =)
I have absolutely loved all the previous “Five Hundred Kingdoms” novels and am very much looking forward to this one! Lackey always manages to take the expected “fairy tale” and turn it on its’ head.
I agree with all of you whole heartedly. I love the Five Hundred Kingdoms. I truly hope Lackey takes fairy tales such as Aladdin, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and perhaps Rumplestiltskin (sic) and gives it the Five Hundred Twist. I really would like to see the trouble the Tradition has in store for these tales and what kind of trouble these kinds of characters give the Tradition. By the By if you like this read the Elemental Masters (more harrowing and adult but entirely worth it).