**spoiler alert** This is a great addition to the Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey. It gets back to the fairytale romance roots, and we...more**spoiler alert** This is a great addition to the Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey. It gets back to the fairytale romance roots, and we even get glimpses of other characters, though not so much as we have see them before. This particular tale combines elements of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and something Norse.
If you are at all familiar with Norse mythology (even if it's just the names) you will quickly recognize the Norse gods and goddesses when they start to be mentioned. Even the Norse person in the story is quite a cliche of one of the Northmen. It is an interesting addition to the world, and one that I hope she continues to use.
The plot itself is twisty, but always stays within the bounds of a fairytale. The romance seems to be more prominent in this one, but it still occasionally comes secondary to the non-romantic plot. They are well woven together. This is different from many romance novels which have two almost completely separate plots - the romance, and what the romantic main characters have to deal with (which generally includes almost every one else).
The characters themselves are sometimes almost one dimensional, especially characters which do not appear a whole lot. This is almost all of the men, and most of the women. However, the two leading ladies are very multi-dimensional.
One thing that Mercedes Lackey does need to work on is connecting one book to another. She keeps jumping around so violently that often the characters are almost unrelated. Some of the previously encountered characters (namely Godmother Elena from the original novel and the lady knight turned dragon from the following novel). I also think that a couple of them made cameos, but I would have to go back and double check descriptions on some of the characters. I know that even if who I am thinking of IS a cameo he entered under a false name, and his girlfriend is not named at all in this particular novel. She could take a few lessons from Sherrilyn Kenyon in putting together a community, and always using the characters, but never sticking to the same couple. She did a good job of it with the Valdemar series too, no need to jump around as much here. I say this because the way she does use the names of the previous characters then begins to feel forced.
She also introduced another major culture into the world - Japan. However, that is incredibly fleeting, and one would have to be aware of how Japanese sounds to notice it. I am sure that even if she kept the pronunciation the same she did not keep the romanization of the world the same. As she did with the Norse culture. She also intimated - as she did in one other book - that the Five Hundred Kingdoms where the Tradition rules is surrounded by places which are not kingdoms, and where it is possible that the Tradition has less, if any, hold.(less)