The Fairy Godmother (The Five Hundred Kingdoms series - Book 1) by Mercedes Lackey.
Publication Date: Hardcover, January 1, 2004; Paperback, May 2010; and E-book, July 2010
Format: E-book, 496 pp (available in Hardcover and Paperback as well)
(E-book from the Library)
Synopsis (Courtesy of Barnes & Noble):
From the bestselling author of The Heralds of Valdemar series comes an enchanting new novel...
In the land of Five Hundred Kingdoms, if you can't carry out your legendary role, life is no fairy tale...
Elena Klovis was supposed to be her kingdom's Cinderella - until an accident of fate left her with a completely inappropriate prince! Determined not to remain with her stepfamily, Elena set out to get a new job - and ended up becoming the Fairy Godmother of the land.
But "Breaking with Tradition" was no easy matter. True, she didn't have to sleep in the chimney, but she had to deal with arrogant, stuff-shirt princes who kept trying to rise above their place in the tale. In fact, one of them was so ornery that Elena could do nothing but change him into a donkey.
Still, her practical nature couldn't let him roam the country, so she brought the donkey - er, the prince! - home to her cottage to teach him some lessons. All the while keeping in mind that breaking with tradition can land everyone into a kettle of fish - sometimes literally!
And so begins a whole new tale...
When I was trying to decide which e-book to read this time for pleasure, I came across the second book in this series called, One Good Knight. I realized that it was book two in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series and found the first one so I could start at the beginning. This was my first book by Mercedes Lackey, though I have heard about her for a long time. Lackey has written so many fantasy books, its hard to know where to begin with her, but I have always had a penchant for fairy tales and this series seemed right up my alley. I absolutely loved the book!
When I first started reading it, I was almost a little disappointed. I didn't know that much about it and it seemed to be taking the traditional route of a simple re-telling of Cinderella. But, let me tell you, this ain't no Cinderella I've ever read, LOL! After the first few chapters you see the "break". The typical Cinderella circumstances are turned on their proverbial ears... Cinderella or Elena in this case becomes an apprentice Fairy Godmother.
Lackey's world building skills were so profound. The Five Hundred Kingdoms just seems to come alive. The reader begins to realize that in each of these Kingdoms "the Tradition" dictates that certain things happen. In every kingdom there is a Cinderella, in every kingdom there is a Sleeping Beauty, in every kingdom there is a glass mountain or a princess who can is so sensitive she can feel a pea under a hundred mattresses. Each of these circumstances is supposed to go along as it naturally would, but sometimes something goes wrong and when it does it "the Tradition" tries force it into another pattern another fairy tale. The job of the Fairy Godmother is try to make the best of these situations, to use the Tradition to give a favorable outcome instead of allowing evil to take over and dictate what happens.
Elena eventually becomes the Fairy Godmother of the land and has so many kingdoms under her command. She works diligently at her job fixing a mess here and there, fixing potions as and handing out blessings, until she is tasked to test three princes who are questing to save the princess of the glass mountain. The first brother is ignores her pleas, as she is dressed as an old beggar woman and she sets him to wander until he mends his ways, the second brother, however, is conceited and downright mean, he tries to run over the beggar woman with his horse and Elena is forced to turn him into a donkey which makes "his outsides match his insides." Little does she know that since she was supposed to be Cinderella and the donkey is the prince, the tradition is leading her down a path of it's own...
I really liked this one and can't wait to read the next one. If you love fairy tales this is definitely a book for you.
The Fairy Godmother is available NOW at your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Mercedes Lackey is an acclaimed author of over 50 novels and many works of short fiction. In her "spare" time she is also a professional lyricist and a wild bird rehabilitator. Mercedes lives in Oklahoma with her husband and frequent collaborator artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots.