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The Black Swan

(Fairy Tales #2)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  8,317 ratings  ·  251 reviews
As the only child of a powerful sorcerer, Odile Von Rothbart has studied the magical arts under her father’s stern tutelage all her life. Yet she feels only fear toward him. For considering his wife’s untimely death the ultimate betrayal, Baron Von Rothbart scours the land in the shape of a great bird of prey. His personal mission is to capture woman who arouse his wrath a ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by DAW (first published May 1st 1999)
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Kaelan Rhywiol Yep. All of the books in the fairy tale series can be.

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  8,317 ratings  ·  251 reviews

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Gail Carriger
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, coop
Excellent retelling of a fairy tale. Highly recommended.
Lauren Marrero
Mar 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
Can I have a little less rape in my novels? The so-called "hero" rapes a bathing gypsy girl and then tries to justify it with the rationale that she ran away rather than hide her nudity. He thought she was being coy. REALLY??? Ok, he had bad dreams after. He tried to be a nicer guy, but I will never endorse a book where the hero is a rapist.

The book was well-written and would have been a much better novel without that scene. It made the hero lose credibility, regardless of his later attempt at r
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ahhh, Swan Lake...
From what I've heard it's a beautiful ballet. And maybe someday when I don't hate watching ballets so much, I'll go see it.

So, from reading the blurb on this thing, you'd think this is a story about Odette (the head swan from aforementioned ballet). Well, it's not. Yeah, she's in the story, but it's mainly told from the point of view of Odile.
Odile? Yes, Odile. And, frankly, she seemed much more interesting than the swan chick, so I'm thinking Lackey made the right choice. Sh
kiwi kili
So....this book surprised me.

A little bit.

Yeah...Um. Erm. So, let's just say you read the rather innocent sounding synopsis. If you're like me, you already know the basic story of Swan Lake, so you FO SHO know what you're getting yourself in to.

And, if you're ESPECIALLY like me, you also remember from your previous other encounters with remakes that the only remake you've ever liked in a million years was The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, so you have some hopes for this, though not particularly
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one I know.
I am a Swan Lake purist. I have been listening to the music since i was a wee one. I know what the story is, who the clear hero and heroine are, the villains too. This book, although ballsy to reinterpret the love story of Odette and Siegfried, makes me want to gauge out my eyes with grapefruit spoons. How can Tchaikovsky's masterpiece be turned into this drek?

If you want to see a beautiful interpretation of the story, check out instead, the wnderful Japanese anime film from the early 80's call
Jul 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Well, that was vile. I refuse to read a book where the main male protagonist is a rapist.

"So much for reputation! he thought with disgust. Stupid b____! If she didn't want me, why did she play with me? Why didn't she fight me?"

Please keep in mind that by "playing," he meant running away. I'm not even kidding. He comes upon a gypsy girl bathing in an isolated stream. Gets horny. Shows himself. And when she runs, he thinks it's a fun game. When he scoops her up onto his horse, and she goes comple
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this version of Swan Lake. Odile is one of my favorite characters and Odette and her relationship with Prince Siegfried was interesting rather than cliche and annoying. Baron Eric von Rothbart was a great villain with the most character I have seen from him in other versions. There was a more adult scene with the Prince, but I believe this actually furthers his character in a monumental way. I loved the character development in this book.
Ana Mardoll
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Black Swan / 978-0-88677-890-3

Swan Lake is my favorite ballet, period, and I trust Mercedes Lackey as a superb author, so I was very excited to open The Black Swan and delve deeply into the story. To my delight, Lackey has not only lived up to my expectations, but far succeeded them - I will gladly state that this is the best novel I have read this year, easily.

The story of the Swan Lake ballet is simple and Lackey does not lose the reader who might not be familiar with the source material. The
Sep 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Cw rape and racism.

I'm going to keep this short and simple. In the forth chapter, the disgusting chauvinist pig of a prince, who is supposed to be the HERO here, rapes a defenseless Romani girl and then complains because she doesn't live up to the racist stereotypes of Romani women.

If you still want to read it, knowing that, wtf is wrong with you?
A. King
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was obviously written before the Darren Aronofsky film of 2010. A lot of people will (unsurprisingly) mistake this for the story about the ballet soloist that lost her mind.

This is a fairy tale, but a very dark one.

This story is told from the PoV of Lady Odile von Rothbart, though it tends to go from Odile to Prince Siegfried. While the ballet is not to be confused as being bright and happy (there is nothing bright and happy about it) the events in the book are an example of 'It Got Worse
Maddie Senator
Jul 03, 2010 rated it liked it
It was really nice to see a retelling of the Swan Lake story, and with Odile being more of a main character than Odette, no less! The fear Odile had for her father, Rothbart, was tangible and realistically portrayed, as well as her strong desire to please him. The background information about the kindgom was wonderful and well-described, and there were many supporting characters who played pertinent roles. My big complaint about it is Prince Siegfried. He has got to be the most lecherous, nasty ...more
Cabell Gathman
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fluff, sci-fi-fantasy
The usual Lackey fluff, but somehow less energetic than most of her efforts. Like the books from the Elemental Masters series, it's a fairytale (or fairytale-like story) retelling, but the magical system is extremely flat and never really explored much. The characters, while still tending towards melodrama in the usual Lackey style, are similarly underdeveloped, and it's hard to care too much about them. Frankly, the part of the book I enjoyed most was the loving description of the protagonist's ...more
Aug 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, retellings
Dropping my rating on this one from a 4 to a 2, and getting rid of the physical copy of the book. I remember enjoying the story. But it's been 10+ years since I read this book last, and literally the only detail I can remember about it (beyond the Swan Lake retelling thing which is on the blurb so I'm not sure if I'm remembering it from the book itself or from the blurb) is that the book's hero rapes a girl who then commits suicide because of it. And while at the time I was able to move past tha ...more
Mar 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Lackey fans
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
I was a big fan of Lackey when she was doing her early Valdemar books, but I haven't liked much of her non-Valdemar stuff and this one's no exception. Even though the setting was meant to be magical and fantastic, the whole book felt flat and mundane. The various love stories were boring. I was frustrated having a relatively powerful main character who was just a drudge for her father, and then a matchmaker for a pair of dull individuals. Even the ending was disappointing and dissatisfying.
Oct 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 14+
Although others have called this book boring, I really liked it. In the beginning, most of the characters disgusted me, but as the book went on, it made their improvement only so much better. It was a nice book about finding oneself.
Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Possibly the best thing about this book, which tells a lovely tale, is the gorgeous cover art by Jody A Lee.

In the UK Jon Sullivan did an equally lovely cover, so ...
Dec 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
When your "hero" is a rapist who never really repents for his bad action, how is it possible to give a flying swan feather?

Watch the ballet. Listen to the music. Skip this.
Mellie G.
Oct 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
I thoroughly enjoyed the first hundred pages or so of the book. I especially loved Odile and her never ending quest to earn the approval of her father who does not deserve a child like her, Odile’s relationship with the flock and her practicing with the magic. The chapters that were written from Queen Cothilde’s point of view and her set up as a major and scheming villain was also intriguing. However, for a book titled The Black Swan she is not the focus as much as I feel she should have been w ...more
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
3 1/3. It wasn't bad per se, maybe just a little wordy. Could have used editing, as her (the main female protagonist's) thoughts took up a lot of the book that wasn't necessarily pertinent to the story.
Mary Fan
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
First of all, let me start by saying I entered this story totally and completely biased. I've been in love with Swan Lake since I was a toddler watching the 1981 anime version over and over again. I've also seen the ballet multiple times and plan to see it many times more.

So basically, I was going to enjoy this book no matter what because, well, SWAN LAKE. And Lackey's retelling was easy to enjoy, with its references to the ballet's nuances (pas de quatre les petites cignes!) and its lush descri
This is another in Lackey's proto-Hundred Kingdoms series, a sort of loose companion to Firebird. Black Swan is based off Swan Lake and set somewhere in a vaguely German/Holy Roman Empire area that's never really defined. But then, this is a fairy tale and it doesn't matter that much where, exactly, it is, so long as the feeling is right.

The feeling is right, and as long as you don't think about it too much it's a pretty enjoyable novel. Our heroine, Odile, is the daughter of Baron von Rothbart,
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
At nearly 30, I think I've finally outgrown Mercedes Lackey. I've been reading her since early adolesence; along with Anne McCaffrey, she was my introduction to fantasy.

But I've reached a point -- either as a reader in general or just as a reader of her books -- that I need a lot more. Not ever story needs a happy ending. Not every feisty and headstrong (and magical) young woman ends up with a man that can truly appreciate her. Not every villian is a paper-thin caricature.

The Black Swan is anot
Αταλάντη Ευριπίδου
"Swan Lake" is my favourite ballet and I'm always pleased to watch new adaptations of it. What I found most surprising in Mercedes Lackey's version, though, was that not even for a second did I think this was an adaptation. Obviously, it follows the "Swan Lake" story very closely, but it is so beautifully written, with such convincing, wonderfully crafted characters, that it felt to me as if this was the original story and the ballet the adaptation. I loved Odile from the beginning and, even if ...more
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Enjoyable, but not anything special, I don't think. A good story, and an interesting take on Swan Lake. However, I felt like Lackey was trying to do too much - there were too many characters that she was trying to develop, and as a result, they all ended up feeling a little bit shallow. There wasn't anybody who really felt "real" to me.

I so much miss Lackey's earlier works - The Last Herald Mage trilogy, for example, or the Arrows of the Queen trilogy. I think her strengths really lie in working
Kerry & naomi
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: given-away, paper
Mercedes Lackey’s book sucker me in. I first read Arrows of the Queen in high school and became completely enamored of the Heralds of Valdemar and a loyal reader. Even though, as the years went by, Lackey’s plots seemed more and more hackneyed to me, I kept reading. Now I wonder if her writing was always this formulaic or has just degenerated. I am not, however, willing to reread the first Valdemar trilogy and risk losing the magic I remember so distinctly about it.

Though I weaned myself off of
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
I have seen several retellings of Swan Lake, from a play to a old anime to the cartoon movie made in the last decade. And out of all the versions of Swan Lake, I like this book best.

My only beef is that the wife's death caused the Baron to hate all women - that isn't really explained in depth. How did his wife's death make him so bitter? Why did he see it as a betrayal? That question nagged at me throughout the book.

Other than that, this book was awesome. Odile is a strong but sympathetic charac
Nov 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fantasy lovers, maybe ballet people
Shelves: mythology, fantasy
This book is a re-telling of Swan Lake, where we actually get a little closer to the characters than say the ballet would allow. Sigfried is a bad boy, Odette isn't as perfect as she may seem, Sigfried's mother is a monster, Odile is more a victim that a malicious daughter, and Baron von Roth Bart is justified (in his mind) to act as he does. Mercedes Lackey certainly knows how to bring idealized and unanimously criticized characters to Earth so they can all be on a level playing field, and some ...more
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I find this to be one of Lackey’s better novels. There is wonderful development of the members of the love triangle. It is believable that the prince and Odette fall in love. The same is true of Odile, one can see the slow burn, in particular in regards to her father’s hypocrisy. The book is feminist, but it doesn’t demonize the male characters. Additionally, the reverse is also shown – the Queen herself is just as bad as the magician. The novel is in some ways about freedom and the true nature ...more
Victoria (the_blondebookshelf)
Jul 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: retellings, fantasy
Well… finding it very hard to finish this book after the rape scene. By the hero. Seriously, how am I suppose to enjoy this character? I didn't like him to begin with and now I am disgusted with the Prince and I really have no desire to finish this book. Note to authors: rape scenes by the "hero" of your novel? Not okay. No matter how much you try to justify it.
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Gail Carriger Fan...: October 2016: The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey 3 32 Oct 04, 2016 08:47AM  
Black Swan the Ballet 2 10 Sep 05, 2012 01:55AM  

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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & M ...more

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