Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Five Hundred Kingdoms #3
Edition: Kindle (omnibus with The Snow Queen)
Blurb: New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey spins a variety of fairy tales — think The Little Mermaid and old Russian folktales — into a satisfying romantic fantasy in this third installment in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series.
Katya, the youngest daughter of the Sea King, is sent by her father on a spying expedition. It’s a perfect assignment for one with the unique ability to transverse both land and water. Once on land, Katya encounters a spectacular battle between two mages, then meets Sasha. He is also of royal birth — the seventh son — destined to play the part of the Wise or Fortunate Fool and Songweaver. Their instant affinity and blooming romance is interrupted when Katya’s father calls her back on business: Two magical maidens have gone missing from an island. Katya disguises herself and gets kidnapped by the Jinn who is keeping the others prisoner, but it will take all her cleverness and powers, as well as Sasha’s magic, to get them out alive. Readers will admire Katya’s spirit, and fans of the previous two books — The Fairy Godmother and One Good Knight — will welcome the return of the Little Humpback Horse.
Where to begin, where to begin.
This book wasn’t as strong as the first two books in this series, which is why it took me so long to finish it. The characters were fun, in a way. Katya is a strong female lead and Sasha is pretty adorable at times, but they were way too one dimensional. Things came pretty easy to them and they didn’t have hardly any faults at all to give them depth. Granted, this is a fairy tale, but still. There wasn’t enough to really make them interesting.
The story was also a little all over the place. First there was a battle between Katya and a sorceress, aided by a kitsune fox spirit. Then there’s a confrontation between Sasha and a ruselka. Then there are several little bits here and there which eventually lead up to the main confrontation with the big bad villain of the book, but it had a haphazard feel to it. It was hard to keep my attention at times, which is never good.
That said, it was really interesting how these books are all loosely tied together. You don’t have to read them in order, but doing so allows you to see all the little connections between these fairy tale stories. Sort of like the author is winking at you, which is fun. I also liked the Russian flavor that this one had. The world building still remains top notch, with the Tradition still a force trying to bend the people into their proper roles. I loved how the characters are trying to take the Tradition into their own hands and either call upon it for help or find ways to bend it to their own advantage. It’s really clever.
I don’t want to say that I didn’t enjoy this book – I did, for the most part. And I still plan on reading the rest of the series, for completion’s sake if nothing else. But this is definitely not my favorite of Lackey’s work, not even my favorite of the series. I loved the first book, but these last two have been lacking in its charm. I’m hoping book four will turn that around. We’ll see. And of course, I will let you all know. 😉
GoodReads Rating: 3 out of 5 stars