Fairy Tales Reimagined: The 500 Kingdoms Series
I honestly can’t remember how or where I found “The Fairy Godmother”, though it was probably from Mercedes Lackey’s website. Reading it, though, sparked yet another book series obsession for me.
As mentioned in my previous article about Mercedes Lackey’s stories, I am a sucker for fairy tales. Especially those with magic in. The 500 Kingdoms series ticks a lot of my happy boxes; featuring magic, shape-shifting, illusions, disguises, and knights on shining armour to name but a few.
To me, the best thing about this series is that, unlike the Elemental Masters series I wrote about previously, the 500 Kingdoms is a little bit…well…silly. Ms Lackey is surprisingly adept at handling humour, and deals swift jabs like a good boxer, leaving the reader a little surprised and in giggles. Or at least, that’s what it did to me.
The series has an simple enough premise; there is a non-corporeal, insentient entity known as the Tradition, which seeks out people whose lives slightly mirror that of a tale (Cinderella, for example) and try to force them down that particular path, regardless of how fitting the story is for the person. Godmothers are in place to try and steer the Tradition down a logical path, whilst keeping a watch for evil Witches and Wizards who want nothing more than to swoop in and steal all that Traditional power building up around the unfortunate person or people in question. They also assist with things like knights’ Quests, and disguise themselves to play roles required.
Much like the Elemental Masters series, the reader occasionally finds characters from previous novels making cameos in further novels, if only mentioned in passing. It, as well as the theme of the Tradition, keep a thread of familiarity running through the separate novels.
The Fairy Godmother introduces us to Elena Klovis, known at the time as Ella Cinders, who finds her life turned upside-down by the introduction of the knowledge of the Tradition, from a Fairy Godmother called Madam Bella.
One Good Knight gives us the story of Princess Andromeda and her country’s sudden, inexplicable, dragon problem. The reader again meets Elena and other characters introduced in the previous book.
In Fortune’s Fool the reader is introduced to more Traditional ideas, as well as more recurring characters from The Fairy Godmother.
The Snow Queen takes a slightly different approach from the previous two books, and introduces a whole new cast of characters in this new take on the traditional fairy tale.
The Sleeping Beauty is, by far, one of the most comedic of the novels. Sassy one-liners, a mish-mash of different fairy tales from Europe and beyond, and a brief mention of Elena in this tale of the Tradition, evil stepmothers, and mistaken identities.
In Beauty and the Werewolf, the story of Red Riding Hood is mixed up with Beauty and the Beast, telling the story of Isabella Beauchamps and her ill-fated trip to the woods to visit the local witch, Granny, whilst wearing her father’s old red riding cloak. This story also features a number of comedic moments and good one-liners.
As of the moment, there are no further books announced in the 500 Kingdoms series, but given the breadth of fairy tales throughout the world, across the ages, I would be very surprised if Ms Lackey doesn’t release more in the future.