Monday, January 31, 2011

The Snow Queen

Aleksia is the Snow Queen and a fairy godmother. Her job is to nudge (or bludgeon depending on how stubborn someone is) the inhabitants in her area so their respective fairy tale paths will end in happiness and prosperity instead of carnage and possibly death. The Tradition is an amorphous power that emanates throughout the land that influences people in a path that is seen time and time again in folk and fairy tales. Aleksia must work with this power to ensure happy fairy tale endings. She lives in an ice palace far from everyone and feels very lonely. She has never been involved in any sort of adventure before and longs for more human contact. One day, Aleksia hears rumors of a witch impersonating her and destroying whole villages with her magic. In order to save her own reputation and the lives of her imposter's victims, she must embark on an adventure of her own. Unlike the people she observes, she has no idea where the Tradition will lead her.

This is the fourth book in the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series and I still can't wait to see more. I love this world where fairy tale characters are a part of everyday life. In many traditional fairy tales, women just sit, wait for a handsome prince to come rescue them, and look pretty. There are very few tales where a female character be active and try to solve her own problem. This world features a plethora of strong, driven women who aren't afraid to go on adventures of their own. It's a theme that goes through all of the books in one way or another and I really like this feminist updating of fairy tales. In this book, not only does Aleksia fight to overthrow her imposter, but a young woman named Kaari goes on a quest to rescue her love from the imposter snow queen. Mercedes Lackey is making fairy tales relevant to our time by making changes to them, just as the Brothers Grimm did in their time.

Even though I really like Aleksia and the world she inhabits, this is still my least favorite of this series. The pacing feels really strange. There would be long drawn out and unnecessary scenes of Aleksia hunting as an animal or inessential drama in the Sammi village. The major problem of the novel isn't even addressed until the last 20 pages. It felt incredibly rushed and tacked on. The same goes for Aleksia's romance. There was really no chemistry or tension or even remote interest between the two characters until the very last page of the book. There just seemed to be no reason for it to be there at all. Editing errors were present throughout the narrative. The most glaringly obvious ones were conflicting descriptions of characters. There was also one chapter that literally ended midsentence. I had never seen anything like it and I wondered how something like this could escape an editor. I contacted the book publisher and they sent me a hardcover version which did include the missing page. The paperback seems to be the only version with this problem.

Overall, the plot and numerous editing problems really disappointed me, but the characters and the universe were still interesting as with the previous books in the series. I hope the next in the series, The Sleeping Beauty, will be a decided improvement over this one.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins


Sullivan McPig said...

I couldn't get into this one. This whole series isn't her best work I think

in other news:
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titania86 said...

I actually really enjoy the series except for this one. I haven't read any of her other work though. Do you recommend it?

Thanks for the nomination! I'll definitely check it out. :)