Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fortune's Fool - Mercedes Lackey

Fortune's Fool - Mercedes Lackey
Fortune's Fool
Mercedes Lackey
Luna Books
Copyright: 2008

The blurb:
 The seventh daughter of the Sea King, Ekaterina is more than a pampered princess-she's also the family spy. Which makes her the perfect emissary to check out interesting happenings in the neighboring kingdom…and nothing interests her more than Sasha, the seventh son of the king of Belrus. Ekaterina suspects he's far from the fool people think him. But before she can find out what lies beneath his facade, she is kidnapped!

Trapped in a castle at the mercy of a possessive Jinn, Ekaterina knows her chances of being found are slim. Now fortune, a fool and a paper bird are the only things she can count on-along with her own clever mind and intrepid heart.…
It's been a while since I read Fortune's Fool, but I was inspired to do a re-read by the previous book I read, Firebird, also by Mercedes Lackey. The two books have different takes on some of the same themes, namely their treatment of the seventh son and the role of the fool, something I found of interest on this read.

In Firebird, Ilya, the seventh son in question is genuinely despised by his family, while in Fortune's Fool, Sasha and his family are filling roles and working to use the Tradition to their own advantage, so while outwardly his treatment is similar, in private he's genuinely cared for by his family.

Both the similarities and the differences make these two stories intriguing to read back-to-back. They're both based on fairy-tales, though different tales (more or less), and using similar character types, even with the same expectations (the happy ending), and yet they're very different.

Fortune's Fool is part of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, which is introduced in The Fairy Godmother. However, this is a series where each book also stands alone quite well as the rules of the world are explained again in each book. Not to mention that in each book, there's an entirely new set of main characters, although some of the characters from the earlier books might make a cameo appearance or two.

The basic explanation for the world of the Five Hundred Kingdoms is that it's one where all the fairy-tales are real. Cinderella? It's happened - enough times that it's now a Traditional path for a step-daughter. Rapunzel? Sleeping Beauty? The same is true of those tales too. Thing is, the stories aren't guaranteed a happy ending. In fact, more often than not it seems that the stories will have a bad ending for the participants. That's what the fairy godmothers are there for; to try and re-direct these Traditions to happy endings. But, there are plenty of Kingdoms where there is no Fairy Godmother. In some of those, they've come up with other methods, as in Fortune's Fool.

Mercedes Lackey has been using the Tradition to come up with some very interesting twists to add to some fairly famous fairy-tales in this series. If you're interested in fairy-tale retellings, this is a series I definitely recommend. It's one I turn to when I want a nice, quick, fairly light read.
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