Right now, there is nothing I want more than a copy of Mercedes Lackey’s One Good Knight (the 2nd book of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series). Because The Snow Queen is so good I finished the entire book before lunch, and it even made me want to comment on it here, which I haven’t done in awhile! Even though I was able to borrow it from the bookstore, now I plan to purchase it. Of course I probably should wait for the paperback, because my copies of The Fairy Godmother and Fortune’s Fool are both paperbacks, but I really, really, really would rather if I could find hardcovers of the older books than waiting for this one to be out in paperback. Because this volume is gorgeous – I’m not too keen on the cover, but I love the type and small illustrations before each chapter. Not to mention I have the feeling that I’d be rereading this a lot and I don’t want a copy with pages falling out, like with my L.J. Smith books.
But before I even think of getting a matching set of books, first of all I need to have a complete set. And I’m missing One Good Knight. And it’s out of print. I’ll just have to look at every bookstore and used bookstore I go to, I guess. Maybe I’ll find a store that have not sold off or returned their copies.
Anyway, the Five Hundred Kingdoms series are separate (but loosely connected) stories based on folklore and fairy tales. The new installment takes the story of the snow queen, which I barely remember, to tell the truth. I only remember vaguely about a boy who gets stolen by the snow queen and the girl who loves him has to get him back. Of course, being a Five Hundred Kingdoms story, things turn out quite different. The Snow Queen in question is really an Ice Fairy, a Godmother. She didn’t steal the boy, but gave him what he wanted – a place to study and invent as he pleases without people to bother him. If she had left him alone, he would have withdrawn completely from society and become self-absorbed in his cleverness, but since she caught him in time she taught him that nothing could replace the love others have for him. The Snow Queen also teaches the girl to stand up for herself, so that she could be with her lover and not just bow down to everything he says. I don’t remember much of the real snow queen story (and will probably reread the other versions I have later) but the part where the girl had to hang on to her love no matter what shape he takes on reminds me strongly of Tam Lin (another of my favorite tales!).
While the book does take apart the snow queen story and rewrites it, the main plot is really about the Snow Queen (Aleksia)’s own adventures, where she learns of a false snow queen who is really terrorizing villages, and has to track the impostor down and deal with her.
The Five Hundred Kingdoms series make me wish that Godmothers are real. Not because they perform miracles, but because they have the powers necessary to create situations that will cause people to reform. That is probably my favorite thing about this series. It’s not just a matter of waving a wand and making a servant girl into a princess, but a matter of creating a circumstance that teaches the servant girl to believe in herself and her own powers to change her life.
~ originally posted on blogspot