Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey

The Five Hundred Kingdoms is definitely becoming one of my favorite settings for new fantasy books. Lackey does a fantastic job creating the world, and keeping it consistent from book to book. These books can also be read individually, without worrying much about messing up the storyline. Some characters do crossover (mainly Elena, from the first book, The Fairy Godmother), but the books are still stand alone novels.
The Five Hundred Kingdoms are a place where The Tradition rules, although most people seem to be unaware of it. The Tradition is a magical force that works to bend the world to its will - its purpose is to create fairy tales. These fairy tales can be good or evil, so it is the job of the Fairy Godmothers to keep the evil tales from coming about. They also keep an eye on the good tales, because those can become bad very quickly if the right circumstances are not brought about to make the tale complete. It is rather amusing, and clever, the way that Lackey makes these things work out.
The Snow Queen is the story of a Fairy Godmother who is mainly in the role of punisher. She spirits away young men who are on the verge of becoming uncaring and evil, and teaches them a lesson. These are necessary lessons that make them better people in the long run, but they never see it that way initially. So Aleksia leads a rather lonely existence. She watches over a vast array of northern realms, including a people called the Sammi, whose culture is intricate and intriguing. Aleksia becomes involved with the Sammi when someone starts destroying whole villages, claiming to be the Snow Queen. As always, Lackey creates wonderful, sympathetic characters, and of course there is a happy ending. Luna Books, the publisher, is a Harlequin imprint, so sometimes the romance becomes a little bit more hot and heavy than we are used to seeing from Lackey. But not this book. Of course there is a romance, but it is all contained within the hearts of the characters, no bodily interaction required. These books are fun reads, completely guilty pleasures, and The Snow Queen is no exception.

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