>> Tuesday, August 10, 2010
TITLE: The Snow Queen
AUTHOR: Mercedes Lackey
SETTING: Fantasy world
TYPE: Fantasy, with a touch of romance
SERIES: 4th book in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series.
REASON FOR READING: I've enjoyed this series
Aleksia, Queen of the Northern Lights, is mysterious, beautiful and widely known to have a heart of ice. But when she's falsely accused of unleashing evil on nearby villages, she realizes there's an impostor out there far more heartless than she could ever be.The Big Concept behind Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms series is the premise that in this world, people are influenced by something called the Tradition, which tries to force people into the paths of traditional fairy tales. Once it recognises the elements of one of them (e.g. a young woman living with an evil stepmother and two ugly stepsisters), forces start to gather to push events in a certain direction.
And when a young warrior disappears, Aleksia's powers are needed as never before.
Now, on a journey through a realm of perpetual winter, it will take all her skills, a mother's faith and a little magic to face down an enemy more formidable than any she has ever known...
If left alone to act, the Tradition can cause quite a lot of unhappiness and tragedy (fairy tales are not the most sweet and light of stories, after all). Which is why Fairy Godmothers watch over the Five Hundred Kingdoms. They are well versed in the ways the Tradition acts, and are tasked to harness and manipulate it to keep things from ending in tragedy.
The Snow Queen is about Aleksia, the Godmother watching over the Northern-most territories. Aleksia has started to feel a bit lonely in her big castle in the mountains, bored with doing the same "interventions" over and over and over. But then strange things start happening amongst the Sammi people (who I think are based on Laplanders?). Entire villages have been found frozen to death, young men are being stolen, and the culprit is reputed to be the Snow Queen.
So instead of sitting in her castle manipulating events, Aleksia now has to plunge into the fairy tale herself and not only aid two brave Sammi women in rescuing their lost young man, but rescue her own reputation before the Tradition takes matters into its own hands and sends a company of Heroes after her.
This was a fun, easy read. I've loved the concept of the Tradition since the first book, and I'm as fascinated by it and admiring of Lackey's imagination as ever. Her characters are nicely done, and I appreciated the look at a tradition I knew nothing about.
I do have to say that even though there is a main storyline, the book at times feels quite episodic. For long stretches, things are more about the world and how the Tradition works than about any storyline. But you know what? I don't care. I find this world so fresh and amazing, especially after going without reading any book set in it for a couple of years, that I don't mind. I WANT to explore and see how things work. I don't mind a pretty pointless visit to the Sammi underworld, which really doesn't tell us (or Aleksia) much, just because it's so fascinating to see how Lackey portrays this bit of her world.
MY GRADE: a B.
NOTE: Lackey always provides lengthy exerpts on her website. You can read the first 3 chapters of The Snow Queen: chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3.