Book review: The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey

The Gates of Sleep (Elemental Masters, #3)The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. I’ve been a fan of the author’s earlier works (her Valdemar series–especially the early books–was excellent). I’m a bit ambivalent about this one. The author does a vivid and convincing job of setting up the magical world, which is one of her strengths. And the first half of the book, describing how Marina (the heroine) is cursed and her life with her guardians and how she discovers and controls her magic is well done. It’s only after Marina goes to live with the Maleficent equivalent that the book deteriorates. You never get a good explanation as to why Maleficent is so bitter and hateful, and the love story with Marina is completely unconvincing. (In essence, there are several interactions where the hero behaves like a boor, and then Marina suddenly realizes she’s in love with him. Whatevs.) It’s almost as if the author realized she hit her page limit but couldn’t bear to cut any of the earlier story (understandably) and just rushed headlong into the climax and ending.
I do like the Elemental world that the author has created with this retelling of fairy tales and am likely to give the series one more try, but this book, while I liked it well enough, was far from the authors’ best work.

View all my reviews

Book review: Foundation by Mercedes Lackey

Foundation (Valdemar: Collegium Chronicles, #1)Foundation by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoy Mercedes Lackey’s books, especially her early Valdemar books (the Herald-Mage series and the Oathbreakers series). I so wanted to really like this book and, while I do like “Foundation,” it has some serious flaws that prevented me from enjoying the book as much as I would have liked.
To begin with, this book takes place shortly after the Herald-Mage series and before all of the other Valdemar books. The writing is vintage Lackey–she writes fluidly and the characters are well drawn. The plot is generally good, but it’s with the plot that I have the biggest issues.
Clearly, this series was plotted out as a multi-book series from the beginning. As a result, rather than having a self-contained plot within the book with a narrative arc that reaches beyond the one book, there is no self-contained plot to speak of. Or, rather, the plot leaves the reader hanging, with many unanswered questions and unexplained plot points that are presumably answered in subsequent books.
I am a curmudgeonly enough reader not to want to read the subsequent books because of my annoyance at being left hanging. I like multi-book series well enough, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask the author to make each book in a series stand on its own as well.

View all my reviews

Book review: The Serpent’s Shadow by Mercedes Lackey

The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters, #2)The Serpent’s Shadow by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have not read any Mercedes Lackey in quite some time (I really loved her Valdemar books), and I was thrilled to discover that she was as good as ever in “The Serpent’s Shadow.” (Being OCD, I will have to go back and read the first book in the series.)
The heroine of the book is Maya, a half-English, half-Indian doctor at a time when both were extremely rare. There are interesting interactions depicted by the author where Maya encounters discrimination on either or both counts, but it’s done with a light hand with little moralizing.
The hero, Peter Scott, is a lovely man who respects Maya’s independence and intelligence (and magical capabilities).
For those of you who enjoy Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey stories, the author pays tribute to that character with a clone of her own.
And the fantasy/magic interwoven in the story is done well, with consistent magical principles and terminology.
All in all, this was a well done fantasy with interesting characters and a nicely done plot. I highly recommend it.

View all my reviews