Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Reserved for the Cat by Mercedes Lackey

This is one of those fantasy books that I read in a day, just for fun, because I love Mercedes Lackey. Her books are incredibly easy to get through, and are great for escaping and just reading something entertaining. Not that they are shallow. She always deals with interesting issues, usually psychological in nature, and the Elemental Masters series (of which this book is the latest) always deals with some interesting social issues as well.
Every book in this series takes place in early 20th century England, but an England where magic happens, that most are not aware of. All of the main characters are female, and they all become embroiled in plots where magic is involved in some way. Throughout the stories, Lackey deals with social issues regarding women's rights, the poor and working classes, and even issues like abortion. Her women are no-nonsense people that do what needs to be done to survive. They are incredibly likable, as are most of their supporters. It is interesting to note that in this series all of the villains are also female, usually very devious and power-hungry. And they are definitely hate-able. There is also usually a love interest, but that is not the focus of the story, and he is almost never the one that actually does any rescuing. The women rescue themselves.
The Elemental Masters series is more formulaic than Lackey's Valdemar books, but I enjoy the formula, so that's okay. The books also do not need to be read in any sort of order, as they are not sequels of each other; they simply take place in the same world. In this book, the main character is a poor Parisian ballerina who is under the protection of a cat, supposedly made her protector by her vanished magician father. The cat leads her to England, where he hopes to help her create a home for herself where she will no longer suffer from poverty. She takes the name of a Russian ballerina, because her name carries no notoriety. Unfortunately, the Russian ballerina was destroyed, and had her body (and name) taken, by a nasty magical creature. When the creature discovers her name being used, she sets out to destroy the impostor. And from there, the story fits nicely into the formula, as things come more and more to a head. It all comes together right at the end for the big final showdown between the good and bad guys, with an epilogue to nicely wrap things up.
An enjoyable read, and as usual, a quick one. If I could read these books slower, I would, because I do really like them. But there is still plenty of Lackey's books that I have not read (she is extremely prolific), so when I need another quick escape for a day off, one will be there.

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