The Fairy Godmother (Five Hundred Kingdoms Series #1)

The Fairy Godmother (Five Hundred Kingdoms Series #1)

by Mercedes Lackey

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"She’ll keep you up long past your bedtime." #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King

"The prolific Lackey (the Valdemar series) draws on the darker, Brothers Grimm side of fairy lore for her enchanting tale…" —Publisher’s Weekly

In the land of the 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 fate left her with a completely inappropriate prince! So she set out to make a new life for herself. But breaking with "The Tradition" was no easy matter—until she got a little help from her own fairy godmother. Who promptly offered Elena a most unexpected job.…

Now, instead of sleeping in the chimney, she has to deal with arrogant, stuffedshirt princes who keep trying to rise above their place in the tale. And there's one in particular who needs to be dealt with….

Sometimes a fairy godmother's work is never done….

Book 1 of Five Hundred Kingdoms.

Previously published.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781459296442
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 03/14/2016
Series: Five Hundred Kingdoms Series , #1
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 33,147
File size: 533 KB

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey has written over one hundred titles and has no plans to slow down. Known best for her tales of Valdemar and The Five Hundred Kingdoms, she's also a prolific lyricist and records her own music.

Read an Excerpt

This is not the way to spend a beautiful spring morning! Elena Klovis thought, as she peered around the pile of bandboxes in her arms. They were full of hats, so they weren't particularly heavy . . . unlike most of her stepmother's luggage . . . but they were very awkward to carry. There was a lark serenading the morning somewhere overhead, and Elena wished with all her heart she was a bird and not herself.

Still, if nothing went wrong, in a few hours she just might be free! If not as free as a bird, at least better off than she was now.

She took a few more steps, feeling her way carefully with her bare toes, and caught sight of the neighbors peering over the rose-covered wall as she passed by their perch. They must have been standing on boxes or a bench to do so, and even at that, all that could be seen of them was the tops of their caps, the a few little graying curls escaping from beneath the lace, and two sets of eyes, blue and bright with curiosity.

Their curiosity would have to wait. She didn't have time to satisfy it right now.

Elena felt her way towards the carriage, the bandboxes swaying dangerously with each step. Madame Blanche and Madame Fleur knew better than to call out to her when she was in the middle of a task, and even if they hadn't been, she wouldn't have answered. Not now. Elena was not in the mood to take either her stepmother's sharp tongue nor the blows of her cane, and if the carriage wasn't packed soon, Madame Klovis would be delivering up both.

"Hurry up with those, do you think I have all day?" Jacques snarled from atop the carriage. She took her time, ignoring him. If a single box dropped, Madame or her daughters would insist the hat be unpacked then and there, and if it was damaged . . .

She made a few more careful steps. It would have been easier if she'd been properly shod instead of barefoot, but the only shoes she had were the wooden clogs she'd carved herself for winter, and the wooden pattens for rain. The last time she'd asked for shoes, her stepmother had flown into a rage and beaten her so hard that her back ached now at the memory.

Sometimes she thought about what would happen if she snatched that cane away and struck back . . . and wondered if it would be worth what would follow.

It wouldn't, of course. The girls would run to get help, and Elena couldn't possibly get away before she was caught. First would come the constables, who would charge her before the magistrate for assault, and the law was on her stepmother's side. An unmarried girl was the ward and property of her parents, who could do whatever they wished with her. Of course, most parents were good and kind, and would never hurt their children, not even when they were the children of another marriage . . . but when they were not, well there was no recourse for the child, none at all . . .

Well, the magistrate would certainly have his say. Then would come ten strokes of the lash at the hands of the town gaoler, followed by a session in the stocks in the town square. Then things would go right back to the way they were, except that Stepmother's hand would be even heavier.

Even if she was twenty-one, an unmarried maiden was still a child in the eyes of the law, and nothing could free her from her parents but marriage.

When she was much younger, Elena had dreamed about running away; now she knew better. A boy could run away, perhaps, and become a soldier, or a wandering man-of-all-work, or perhaps a tinker, or join the gypsies. It was different for a girl. It was a dangerous world out there for a girl. Oh, it was dangerous for everyone, true . . . there were bandit bands, rogues, thieves and tricksters, not to mention storms and wild beasts . . . but there were worse fates for a girl if her luck ran out. Stepmother was bad; being kept as the captive of bandits for their pleasure would be infinitely worse.

She got to the carriage, and handed the bandboxes up to the single servant that the Klovis household still possessed, after Madame and her daughters had finished running through the family fortune, or what had passed for their fortune when Elena's father died. Jacque, a dour, sour man, thin as a spider, balding, with a nasty long fringe around his pate, and evil-tempered as a toad, took them from her and began strapping them to the top of the carriage, adding them to the luggage already there. Elena turned back towards the house for more.

She heard whispers from the other side of the sandstone wall as she hurried up the mossy cobbles of the path that led from the front gate, through the formal garden, to the front door. She didn't have to go far; there was more luggage piled up just outside the stained, oak door. She loaded herself up with as much as she could carry, and repeated her trip.

She had been loading the luggage since dawn, first dragging the biggest trunks and boxes to the hired cart, which had left before the sun cleared the pointed rooftops, then piling the rest onto the old family carriage. The carriage was huge; it had been built to carry a family of eight with reasonable luggage for all of them, and by the time she and Jacques were finished, Madame, Delphinium, and Daphne would hardly have room to fit.

"It looks as if they're taking everything they own!" came a slightly louder whisper, as she handed Jacques more boxes and calico bags. A bit of breeze teased the ragged edges of her skirt and tickled her bare legs.

Yes they are, she thought sourly. And quite a bit that they don't own. All of her mother's property, which should have come to Elena, for instance. And never mind that the dresses were decades out-of-date; the fabrics of fine silks and satins, velvets and lace, were still good. Elena had no doubt at all that they would soon grace the backs of Madame and her daughters. Here, anyone who saw those dresses would know where the fabric had come from . . . but in another town, no one would know, or whisper. Let Elena go in rags with but two skirts and two blouses to her name . . . they would, if they could not find the money to pay the silk-merchant's bills, still have new dresses.

And as for Theresa Klovis's jewels . . . or what was left of them . . . once Madame and her daughters were safely in a place that didn't recognize those either, the necklets and bracelets would go to a pawnbroker or to ornament the Horrids.

That was what Elena called them; the Horrid Stepsisters. Would that they had been ugly as well, their outsides matching their insides! If there was any justice in the world, they would both have the faces of the greedy monkeys that they were.

But no, they were not particularly unattractive; Delphinium, the eldest, was a little too thin, her nose a little too long for beauty and her perpetual look of hauteur was going to set extremely disagreeable lines in her face one day, but right now, she was not so bad to look at. Her sister Daphne was just like her, except for tending to plumpness rather than bones. Both had beautiful raven hair, like their mother, and if their eyes were rather close-set, they were still a fashionable deep blue. Never venturing outdoors without a hat or a parasol kept their skin as pale as any lady could wish and their hands, which never lifted more than a needle or a spoon, were white and soft.

They were no great beauties, but they were pretty enough. And if they lacked for suitors here, well, that was partly due to the fact that they wouldn't consider anyone without a title or a fortune, and preferably both.

The rest of it, of course, was because . . .

"Elena!" came the inevitable screech from above. "E-le-na!"

"Coming, Madame!" she called, and handed Jacques the last of the bags in a rush. If he dropped them, she didn't care; let him take the blame for once.

. . . the rest of it was because they were such shrews, such harridans, that any sensible man in this town would have cut off his right hand rather than wed either of them. Only a sizable dowry would have enticed anyone here to court either of them . . . dowries which neither of them possessed.

She pushed past the pile of boxes and bags still awaiting her inside the door, and ran up the dark, oak staircase. "Elena!" came another screech, this time in Daphne's unmusical voice. "Where are you, you lazy slut?"

No, there wasn't a man in the town who didn't wince at the idea of hearing that voice coming from within his house.

She didn't trouble to answer, just pushed open the heavy door into Madame's room.

It was the largest room in the house, of course, a pleasant chamber, with whitewashed walls and dark beams supporting the ceiling, furnished with a peculiar mix of the fashionable and the ancient. The canopied bed, for instance, was generations old, and was too heavy to move. The little dressing-table where Madame sat and two of the chairs were spindly-legged, delicate items in the latest mode, painted white, and gilded. The wardrobe was the same age as the bed, plain and dark, with little carving, but the bedside table was the sibling to the dressing-table, ornamented with carved curlicues and flowers. The remains of the breakfast she had brought up earlier were still littering the bedside tables, the window-seat, the massive oak mantelpiece and the floor.

Madame had been tugging at the laces of Daphne's corset, but let go as soon as Elena entered. Daphne hung to the post of the disturbingly bare canopy bed. The bed had been stripped of its linens and embroidered hangings as soon as Madame rose this morning; those were some of the first things on the coach. Yes, Madame was taking everything that was remotely portable, and the only reason she wasn't taking the modish furniture was that she had already sent on as much of that as she could manage.

Madame didn't have to say anything; Elena took her place behind her daughter and wrapped the long corset-laces around each hand. Not as long as they should be; Daphne was putting on weight again; the wider gap between the edges of the corset proved that much. If she didn't leave off the cream cakes and bonbons, soon no amount of corsetting would make her fit her dresses. Elena put her knee in the small of Daphne's back and pulled with all her might.

Daphne. A nymph. A water nymph. Well, if you pushed her in the river, she'd certainly float . . .

Daphne squealed a protest as her waist gradually became several inches smaller with each pull of the laces. Madame, however, was having none of it. "Pull harder, girl," she ordered, looking down her nose. "If she will eat two cream teas in an afternoon, then she'll have to suffer the consequences."

"I was . . . being sensible!" Daphne objected, "It would . . . only have . . . been thrown . . . away!"

Elena gritted her teeth at that. The food wouldn't have been thrown away; Elena herself would have gotten it. It would have been nice to have a cake or two instead of stale, dry toast and the watery remains of the tea. Greedy pig. She'd stuff herself sick rather than see Elena have a single treat.

Elena obeyed by pulling on the laces until she wondered if they were about to snap . . . this was one of the few tasks she ever did that she enjoyed doing . . . and the corset narrowed again. When the edges finally met, she tied the laces off, leaving Daphne red-faced and panting in tiny breaths, while she picked up the froth of three pink silk petticoats with their trimming of ecru lace from the floor. They rustled and slid softly over her work-roughened hands.

"You really are getting as fat as a pig, Daphne," said Delphinium from the window-seat, still dressed in nothing more than her corset, shoes, stockings and drawers. She looked out the window as a she spoke. "You'll have to marry a peasant farmer before you're through if you keep eating like you have been, because no wellborn man will be seen with a hog in satin . . ."

"Mother!" whined Daphne, as Elena dropped the three petticoats over her head and tied them in place. And when Madame feigned to ignore them both, went on, viciously, "Well, no one would look at you twice . . . you're getting lines around your mouth and nose from all the scowling. And starving yourself like you do gives you bad breath and no breasts . . . you're as flat as a boy, a boy with the face of an old hag!"

"Huh. Better thin than looking like a pregnant sow," Delphinium replied, but as Elena took Daphne's dress from the chair on which it had been left, she saw Delphinium surreptitiously pick up her hand-mirror and examine the area around her mouth with a certain alarm.

"Enough, girls, both of you." That order, in Madame's coldest voice, shut them both up. Elena dropped Daphne's pink-and-green silk dress over her head and tugged it in place over the petticoats, then laced up the back while Daphne stood still. It was, Elena thought, just entirely too frou-frou for anyone, much less Daphne; a torrent of ruffles and lace adorned every possible hem, and there were ribbons and rosebuds anywhere that one could be placed. Daphne looked rather like a wedding-cake and the comparison did not suit her.

Once Daphne was gowned, Madame rose from her dressing table and gestured imperiously; obedient for a change, Daphne took Madame's place, while Madame attended to her hair. All three women wore their hair piled high on their heads in elaborate designs of pompadours and ringlets, and as a consequence, never actually took their hair down and combed it out more often than once a month. They slept with their hair protected at night by huge, stiff paper cylinders, so that in the morning, Madame didn't have to do a great deal to set it to rights. Ever since she'd learned this, Elena had thought they were mad to fuss so much, and she still did. No one else in the town wore their hair that way unless they were going to attend a ball or some other important event. It couldn't be comfortable, sleeping like that, and she shuddered to think what could move in and set up housekeeping in those untouched hair-towers. It was stupid to go about dressed and coiffed like that every day.

Why, not even the Queen went to such pains over her appearance! You could see that for yourself, if you went to the Palace about the time she took her afternoon stroll in the garden with her son, the young Prince Florian. That was one of the chief entertainment in their town of Charbourg, in fact . . . going to the Palace in the afternoon to watch the Royal Family walk about in their gardens, then take a stroll yourself when the Royals had gone into the Palace and the gardens were open to the public for an hour. Not that Elena ever had the time for such a diversion, not since Madame had taken charge . . . but she remembered back when her father was alive, when the baby Prince was just big enough to toddle about the grass. The people of Charbourg loved their King and Queen, and in fact, everyone in the Kingdom loved the King and Queen; Otraria was a good Kingdom to live in. The land was fertile and the climate gentle, the tax collectors never took more than was reasonable, and sometimes gave what they took back, if someone had fallen on hard times. In Spring, there was never a frost to blight the blossoms; in summer there was always enough rain, and never too much. The King listened to the needs of his people, and met them, and the King and his Queen were good, kind, caring stewards of the land. Not like some of the Five Hundred Kingdoms . . .

Or at least, life was good here for anyone who didn't have Madame for a stepmother.

With Daphne dressed, it was Delphinium's turn to be gowned and coiffed, and the elder sister slid off the window-seat with a scowl, and turned her back to Elena. Delphinium's bony shoulder blades protruded over the back of the corset like a pair of skin-covered winglets; Elena wondered why she bothered with a corset at all. Perhaps only because it was fashionable to wear one; perhaps because the corset gave her a place to stuff balls of lambswool, to give her the illusion of breasts. The corset didn't exactly need tightening, just tying, and Delphinium's petticoats of yellow, and her dress of blue and yellow, were soon slipped over her head and laced on. Delphinium didn't indulge in the yards of ruffles and lace that her sister did, but she was very fond of vertically striped materials which tended to make her look like an unfurled umbrella, and perhaps she shouldn't keep wearing her necklines quite so low, since she had very little there to display, balls of lambswool notwithstanding . . .

All the while that Elena had been dressing the girls, she had heard Jacques going back and forth to the carriage, carrying off the baggage that had yet to be stowed. There was a single basket on the floor, and a single case on the bare mattress; when Madame finished with Delphinium's hair, she turned to Elena.

"Put the toilette articles into the case," Madame said imperiously, "And pick up all the china and put it in the basket, then bring both down to the carriage. Come, girls."

The three of them sailed out the door, and as Elena hurried to attend to this final task, she heard the sound of their elegant high-heeled shoes clacking on the wood of the staircase as they made their way down.

She would have liked to just throw everything in the case and basket, but knew better. Madame would check. So she fitted the brush and mirror, the comb and pick, the powder-box and powder-puff, the cologne bottles, the rouge and lip-paint and the patch-box all in their proper places, then stacked dainty floral-figured saucers, cups, teapot and silver in the basket with the soiled napkins around them to keep them from jouncing. At least this was one set of dishes she wouldn't be washing. With the case in one hand and the basket in the other, Elena hurried down the stairs and out the door.

They were already waiting in the carriage, with Jacques up on the driver's box, the hired horses stamping restively. She handed up case and basket to Daphne, who took them and stowed them away somewhere at her feet.

Madame thrust her head out the window.

"Keep the house tidy," Madame ordered.

"Yes, Madame," Elena replied, throttling down her joy. They still might change their minds . . . something might happen. Madame might get cold feet at the last minute.

"Don't let any strangers in."

"Yes, Madame."

"We will write to inform you of our address. Send any invitations from the Palace on immediately."

"Yes, Madame."

Stepmother looked down at her, frowning, as if trying to think of something else, some order she had not yet given. Elena held her breath. There was one . . . she prayed that Madame would not think of it.

And she did not. She moved away from the window, sat back in her seat, and rapped on the roof of the coach with her cane. Jacques cracked his whip and snapped the reins over the horses' backs. With a clatter of clumsy hooves . . . they were nothing more than carthorses, after all . . . the carriage lurched into motion. It wallowed down the cobbled street, over the arched granite bridge, then around the corner and out of sight.

Elena waited, listening for the sound of returning horses. There were too many things that could go wrong. They could discover that they had forgotten something. They still could change their minds . . .

Madame could remember that she had not ordered Elena not to leave the house and grounds.

The rose-scented morning breeze pressed her shabby brown skirt against her bare legs. Her bare feet began to ache from standing on the hard cobbles. The larks overhead continued to sing, and a pair of robins appeared and perched on the sandstone wall beside her. The sun climbed a little higher. And still she waited.

But the clock in the church tower struck the hour, and though she watched with her heart in her mouth, there was no sign of them. No rattle of wheels on the cobbles, no clatter of hooves on the stone. Only the song of larks overhead, the honking of geese on the river that flowed under the stone bridge, the whisper of the neighbors on the other side of the wall . . .

"You can come out now, Madame Blanche, Madame Fleur," Elena called. "I think they're really gone."

Two thumps, and the patter of footsteps, and the two old women burst out of their own gate and hurried over to Elena. They were as alike as two peas, these neighbors; sisters, round and pink and sturdy, dressed in handsome linen gowns with a modest trimming of ribbon, no lace, and white linen mob-caps over their gray-streaked dark curls. Blanche wore gray, Fleur wore blue; Fleur's gown was sprigged with tiny flowers in darker blue, Blanche's was faintly striped gray-on-gray. Elena was very fond of them; they had done their best to help her whenever they could, though they had to be careful. Madame Klovis would punish Elena for taking anything from them, if she discovered it. And Madame hated both of the sisters. "Common," she called them with distaste, though they were no more common than Elena's father had been, and not being given to speculation, had kept the money they had intact.

"What has been going on?" asked Blanche, at the same time as Fleur burst out with "Where are they going?"

"To LeTours for now, and if necessary, right out of the kingdom entirely," Elena told them. "And," she continued sourly, "as soon as the creditors find out, I expect them to come for the furniture."

Both little rosebud mouths formed identical, shocked "o"s.

"I didn't know it was that bad," Fleur said, after a moment. "She kept it all very quiet! What are you going to do?"

"They can't claim the house, of course, since it was willed in equal shares to all of us, and I haven't run up any debts," Elena continued. "So at least I will have a place to stay for the moment."

"But what will you do? How will you manage?" Blanche asked at last. And "Why did they leave?" asked a more bewildered Fleur. "All they would have had to do to discharge the debts would have been to sell some jewels, live more frugally . . ."

Then Fleur stopped as both Elena and Blanche favored her with sardonic looks. "Oh," the old woman said, and grimaced. "I forgot. This is Madame and her daughters we are speaking of."

Blanche shrugged. "She still could have lived frugally," the elder sister said. "She could have decided to lose those airs of hers, and act her station, instead of miles above it."

Elena just shook her head. "There are a great many things she could have done. None of them suited her."

"You mean, none of the gentlemen of our town suited her," Blanche said, knowingly. "Because all of them saw through her. I wish your father had, before it was too late."

Since Elena had wished that very thing every day for the past fourteen years, there wasn't much she could add to that.

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Fairy Godmother (Five Hundred Kingdoms Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 263 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ever wonder what happened to all those cinderellas and sleeping beauties that never found their happily ever afters? Well, Mercedes Lackey tells us through the story of Elena Klovis: The Fairy Godmother! Elena had it all: the wicked stepmother, the evil stepsisters, and the rags...but she was not about to turn into a Cinderella! What's a girl to do when she's ready to put on her magical ballgown and glass slippers...and Prince Charming's only a toddler? (!!) Enter Fairy Godmother stage right! When Elena is forced to find work when her wicked stepfamily abandons her, she is picked up by none other than the kingdom's (as well as some other kingdoms') official Godmother! Elena is swept up into an apprenticeship where she learns the ins and outs of being a Godmother: brewing magic potions, solving royal blunders, resolving curses, and battling evil fairies. Oh! And also punishing the odd arrogant prince. One such royal ego is treated to Godmother Elena's special cure for arrogant royals: turn him into an ass! When the cure begins to work Elena finds that not all fairytales are orthodox - and even Fairy Godmothers could fall in love...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It's one of my favourite books by Mercedes Lackey.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really loved this book. Mercedes Lackey is so incredibly descriptive. I think she does and excellent job of showing the growth of the characters throughout the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was pretty nifty. I wasn't sure about it when I first started it, but it turned out alright. It seems a little slow at first,(or maybe that was just me? Dunno.) but then it picks up the pace. I definitely recommend it if you're looking for a quick, decent fantasy book thats not extremely out there.
navelos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a pretty quick enjoyable read, though it doesn't have much conflict and didn't feel like much happened. It felt like a very long introduction to nothing. Elena started out as a promising character but I thought as soon as she became Godmother she lost all her personality. I guess I would have thought differently of the book if I'd realized it was really the story of Elena and Alexander, not so much the story of her exploits as fairy godmother, as the back of the book led me to believe. Although I enjoyed reading it I don't really feel compelled to get the next book in the series.
jasmyn9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Five Hundred Kingdoms continually live the fairy tales. It is part of the magic that holds the realms together. Elena was destined to follow in the footsteps of Cinderella, but her prince was just a baby so the fairy tale went wrong. The magic of the realm built up around her until her kingdom's godmother takes her in as an apprentice. Her life is filled with directing the magic to make her realms a better place and keepp the evil ones away. Throughout it all she makes brave and very inventive solutions to keep the tales alive but under control. At least until she breaks with tradition and takes an unruly prince under her wing. She is determined to make him a better person, but the fairy tales have another idea altogether.I loved Elena. She was just the right mix of bold and confident with an underlying insecurity and doubt that she is good enough to perform her new role as godmother. She rises to the challenge and succeeds in ways she never quite thought possible. She is surrounded by a host of mythical creatures, each with its own unique personality and part to the story. The romance was definately there, but in a way that made it part of the story instead of the point of the story. I'm going to have to keep my eyes out for the others in the series.4/5
samuraibunny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ever since I read Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, I've been on the lookout for other fairy tales told with a twist to them. And Mercedes Lackey definitely exceeded my expectations in this book.First of all, I've had the pleasure of enjoying some of Lackey's other books, and it is a pleasant surprise to see the vastly different writing styles between her epic fantasy series and... well, this. Although, it is a change that is well-suited to this genre.Going into it from just the synopsis, I was expecting more of a "challenge a day" type story, which is not the case here. Perhaps I should have expected it, but the story is more of a romantic story than an empowered woman story. (Get it? Romantic? *Slaps a knee*)Although an entertaining story, character development was a bit undermined. There are static characters throughout the novel. Those who have changed can usually attribute their miraculous improvement to magic. Still, an interesting and thought provoking novel that poses the questions, what if there are such things as destiny and fate? Is any decision that we make of our free will, or is there a higher power prodding us along?
erinmcewen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
500 Kingdoms = guilty pleasure. I've read this three times already & it's a silliness that seems to come from the base of my own brain. Lackey isn't Shakespeare, but she serves up fun stories in words that I seem to have already thought of. Comforting. Like macaroni and cheese.
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Elena¿s miserable life as her stepfamily¿s slave should¿ve qualified her to have a Cinderella-like happy ending. However, things don¿t quite work out that way. Instead, Elena becomes a fairy godmother-in-training. Her primary duty involves working with the Tradition, a powerful magic that tries to force people and situations into recognizable story arcs.Being Fairy Godmother, however, is a lonely life, and Elena is not sure if her desire to love and be loved can handle such loneliness. Can she find a way to make everyone happy and get her own happy ending?I have heard of Mercedes Lackey, of course¿what fantasy reader hasn¿t?¿but, until this book, had not read anything by her. I picked up THE FAIRY GODMOTHER on a whim in the bookstore, when I was still on a post-Crown Duel high and desiring a similarly pleasurable fantasy read. THE FAIRY GODMOTHER definitely fulfilled that desire of mine. It¿s a wonderfully unique concept, crafted by the hands of a master.The most amazing part about this book is the thoroughness with which Mercedes Lackey explores an original fantasy concept. There are some pretty standard tropes in fairy tales: long-suffering good girl gets the prince, magic helps the overlooked but goodhearted and deserving third son, and so on. Lackey takes those common expectations and transforms it into the Tradition, a powerful and often dangerously insistent magical force that tries to carry out its tropes without any regard to people¿s different wishes, and that must be appeased through subtle manipulations. It¿s enchantingly clever, a new take on the fractured fairy tale, and would give someone like me oodles of delight as we consider how Lackey lays out the plot and rules in this world.The characters, in contrast, do not shine as strongly. Elena is a fine, strong female protagonist, but she doesn¿t particularly stand out beyond being a typical fine, strong female protagonist. The main plot here is the magical one, and so the romantic subplot is exactly that¿a subplot, feeling a little forced and out of place at times.Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed THE FAIRY GODMOTHER on account of its wonderfully executed original concept. Upon finishing this book, I eagerly went out and found the other books in this series, and will look forward to delving into them when I get the chance!
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Mercedes Lackey read ... and I loved it. I'm a big fan of fairy-tale retellings and when I saw the cover of this book and then read a little bit about it (just enough to know it was loosely based on Cinderella), I had to read it. First of all, I'm a huge admirer when a fantasy writer gets a magic system down so well that it's explained in a way that makes colors explode in my imagination - and that's what Lackey did in The Fairy Godmother. Spoilers Ahead! I'm beyond thrilled that the book takes a twist away from the typical fairy tale into a realm that I never had considered - that of the training of the Godmothers. I was fascinated by every single magical creature, found myself snorting with laughter at the mirror-slave, Randolph, at the love-sick unicorns (I just snorted with laughter again), and at the.. odd turn of events which brought Alexander into Elena's life. My only disappointment was the rather.. graphic, erotic turns the book took, but they were much smaller in number then they could have been so don't pass by this one if you are totally turned off by that sort of thing. The witty writing, charm of the characters and sheer magic of the world made this book a delightful read, and one I'm glad to own (now.. to get my hands on the rest of them!).
eljabo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a sucker for a fractured fairy tale. What I liked best about this tale was that Elena was no damsel in distress. She took matters in her own hand, shaped her own destiny and even rescued her own prince. Much better than the hand-wringing that typically goes on in these novels!The author created a fascinating world in this book - can't wait to visit it again!
puckrobin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a great take on the Cinderella tale! Lackey's heroine is not only plucky and wonderfully sarcastic, she's innovative and smart. Familiar enough to feel good, new enough to be interesting.
deslivres5 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fairy tale retelling of Cinderella becoming a fairy godmother instead (sort of). I enjoyed the "rags to magic" parts of the story, and the parts about evil getting its just rewards.But I didn't enjoy the romance, which seemed, even in a fantasy story where you know that its coming, to resolve too, too quickly (must have been the Tradition) but more than quick enough for the unexpected and strange MA-rated portions of the romance.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This just never hooked me. I'm something of a fan of Mercedes Lackey's books: I've read a majority of them, and she's a prolific author--certainly one of those, that when this first appeared, I reflexively went to give it a read. I particularly love her Valdemar books, which she's arguably best known for. I think one of Lackey's greatest strengths is her world-building: she creates original and engaging magical realms, and this take on a fairy-tale land with the "Tradition" that forces people into a fairy-tale mold is no exception; I loved her take on fairy godmothers and the tale is shot with a sly humor. Yet I can't count this as a favorite among her novels, and after this story I didn't, as I usually do, continue to read the other books in this series, nor would I be inclined to reread this as I have other books of hers. Elena, the title character and her romance just never engaged me, and I felt the book dragged in a way Lackey's usually don't for me. I think there are stronger books by Lackey, stronger romantic fantasy out there, even stronger romantic fantasy fairy-tale novels by Lackey (such as her Elemental series which includes the Cinderella story Phoenix and Ashes)
TriciaDM on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked this, the concept of what a fairy godmother does exactly is really neat. I liked romance addition and the sarcasm was great!
quoting_mungo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Tradition is what shapes events in the Five Hundred Kingdoms. It gathers magic around those whose lives fit in on fairy tales and tries to shape their lives to go along with the tale. One of those people is Elena, who lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters, waiting on them every waking moment after they have spent her father's fortune and can no longer afford proper servants. She should've been her kingdom's Cinderella, but the prince isn't old enough to sweep her off her feet on her sixteenth birthday. Nor on her eighteenth. When she gets a chance she resolves to make a new life for herself, and ends up getting a little help from none other than a Fairy Godmother, who takes her in as her Apprentice. A very entertaining tale, though I especially enjoyed the part where Elena was the Godmother Apprentice, and it's too bad that part didn't last longer. I like the idea of The Tradition as some rather stupid noncorporeal entity that tries to shepherd people into the paths from tales, and Fairy Godmothers as those who help facilitate the happy endings and attempt to prevent the unhappy tales from even starting. The characters were all distinct personalities, rather colorful such in some cases. Highly reccomended!
hcanton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started out really liking this book, new twist on an old story, strong heroine, good character development, a fun new fairy tale. But about halfway through the book M. Lackey switches gears and starts getting bogged down in adding a "romance" element to the story that is in a totally different writing style, much more "hot and heavy, light-porn romance novel", than fairy tale, and which was unnecessary for the storyline. It drags and takes up valuable pages without accomplishing anything, except maybe appealing to Romance readers. Then, once Lackey gets her trashy romance out of the way, she gets back to the business of telling her fairytale, but now she's running out of page space and the culminating battle is weak, underdeveloped and unsatisfying. I really had the impression that while Lackey knew the story had to go here (the battle), that she was way out of her comfort zone and ability in writing it. So, although I started out loving the story and was prepared to rave about it, by the end I was ho-hum and had a bad-taste in my mouth from the pornish middle. Not a keeper for me.
pacey1927 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Without a doubt, this is the best book I have read in a very long time. Elena is twenty one and many years ago now she should have been "Cinderella", happily married to a prince and being an ornament at his side. But somewhere along the line the "tradition" got messed up and the only prince in the kingdom is eleven years old! So, when her evil stepmother and stepsisters leave town temporarily to seek for a new weathly man to con, Elena runs off and finds herself meeting her fairy Godmother. Not only does Elena have a fairy godmother, but this Godmother wants to train Elena to take over her position. This puts into play an amazing tale spanning Elena's "apprenticeship" and then her days in charge or the kingdom's Godmother duties. Along the way, we hear many different tales, that sound familiar but are changed around. We get a chance to see that sometimes fairy tales don't end up with happy endings. The entire story was a delightful thrill from start to finish. Gripping, and extremely difficult to put down. I was happy with the romantic storyline when it finely came into play and thought the ending was splendidly well done. From what I understand this is published by a Harlequin division and I must say that this is far from any traditional romance that I have read. I found this book to be a fabulous change of pace from my normal readings. I admit that since this unlike anything I've read in a long time, maybe that is why I was so taken with it. I have never read a book by Mercedes Lackey before, but I can guarentee this won't be the last.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book at the library, it looked interesting, so I checked it out. I was quickly dismayed that this book is not just fantasy, but also Romance, although romance with a higher quality writing. I was not happy. I wouldn't have checked the book out if I had known. There a few scenes in this book that I skipped, simply because it was gratuitous sex that added nothing to the plot, and was a bit too graphic for my taste. I suspect I would have enjoyed the book much more if it was labeled as Romance/Fantasy. But I read it thinking it was going to be light fiction, and its not.
seekingflight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started this with high hopes. I love alternate and contemporary retellings of the classic fairy tales. I love books that spell out and then play with traditional storytelling conventions. So I was hooked when I heard the premise of this series, which depicts a world ruled by The Tradition. The more that your situation in life resembles a fairy-tale, the more magic gathers around you, trying to force you down a path that will fulfil the Tradition. So what would have happened to Cinderella if her prince was too old, or too young, or her Fairy Godmother never got there in time? This book plays with these ideas and more, but the execution wasn¿t quite what I was hoping for, and the romance was predictable and did very little for me.
the1butterfly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a new take-off on fairy tales. As we follow a fairy godmother, we learn that the tradition of fairy tales in the 500 kingdoms produces a magic of its own. This magic compels this same tradition to be followed again and again, and fairy godmothers use their own magic to help the tradition follow good paths, or hinder its bad ones. Elena is determined to do her best to control the paths the tradition follows- and alter them to help others. The path she is on is the path she most wishes to alter, but that is the one she fears altering the most.
Alliebadger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is probably one of my all-time favorite books and also the one that got me hooked on Mercedes Lackey. I recommend this very highly for women especially, please read it!In this book, Elena is the classic Cinderella story. She lives with an evil stepmother and stepsisters, but she's been waiting for her prince to ride up for a long, long time. One day, she sneaks out to the job fair and is whisked away by a Fairy Godmother who explains what's been happening to her. The Tradition, the magical force in the 500 Kingdoms, nudges people's lives in such a way that it ends up in Traditional stories (ie Cinderella). But something has gone wrong while the Tradition was nudging Elena and could never let her tale finish, so the magic has been building up around her so much that she now has the makings to be a Fairy Godmother. The Godmothers help guide the Tradition; knowing Traditional paths, they try to help the Tradition give people happy endings, because sad ones are all too common.So Elena trains and succeeds, taking over the place of her predecessor. And she just may find her own path being shaped as well...
ericnguyen09 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Perhaps that was all that freedom really was, in the end, the knowledge that you had nothing and were nothing, and thus had nothing to lose or gain." Heading another series that take well-known fairy tales and retells them (the first one being the "Elemental Masters" series), Mercedes Lackey starts her "Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms" with her own--thoroughly contemporary and highly feminist--version of Cinderella.Made into a slave by her stepmother and stepsisters, 21-year-old Elena "Ella Cinders" Klovis's woes are further exasperated when the three, in the wake of Elena's father's death, decide to leave town to hide from debt collectors. "Keep the house tidy" were her last instructions and with that Elena is left alone. Seeing the abandonment as an opportunity for freedom, she runs away to sell her services as a maid.Like the the original Cinderella, she is unexpectantly saved by an eccentrically dressed Godmother; unlike the original tale, Elena becomes Godmother Bella's apprentice, under the fact that her prince to-be is still a child, a sign that The Tradition--a force that guides the peoples of the Five Hundred Kingdoms into fairy tale stories wheather the like it or not--is not always perfect. And it with a later induction into the life of a Godmother that Elena comes to effectively fight against The Tradition.While the novel is a romance, under the Harlequin imprint of Luna, Lackey focuses on magic rather than love and lust. In fact, while there are themes of love and lust, it is scattered and perhaps unskillfully added--for example, a chapter that quickly becomes a sex scene. However, Lackey also manages to write a very contemporary, very feminist story in which the characters metaphorically and literally break The Tradition (of gender roles): on the way, we meet feminine princes, a knight turned into a donkey for being a pig, and above all--very strong women. Added to this are humorous moments, magical fun, and an intelligent heroine to make a 400+ book into light reading that is ultimately about freedom and our ability to rewrite our stories for freedom.Readers of her previous works might be taken by surprise and may even dislike this particular series; romance readers will find something new to try out; and her fans will enjoy this mediocre fantasy-romance that while different from her previous works, it can likely fit onto their shelves.
kylesnova on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great read - a twist on the traditional Cinderella fairytale. The premise asks the question, "What happens to all of the girls who don't get the happy ending?" and then answers that question.