Monday, June 30, 2014

Five Glass Slippers

The story of Cinderella has been told many times in many ways. The anthology Five Glass Slippers  contains five variants on the tale with different perspectives on  the characters and settings. The first story “What Eyes Can See,” spends most of its time after the ball, as the prince tries to woo his reluctant betrothed.  Told in a lovely, old-fashioned tone, the contrast between audience expectations and the  characters’ wishes creates a lovely, humorous story.
Rosalind, the heroine of the second tale, “Broken Glass,” has her own plans; while she may want to marry into the royal family, the proposal came from the wrong brother. In order to marry the one she wants, she’ll have to concoct a few schemes of her own.   Likewise, “The Windy Side of Care” features a  heroine who is determined to reclaim the throne.  The last two tales take up the Cinderella tale and resettle it in strange soils—outer space and the realms of faerie.  “A Cinder’s Tale”  occurs on a planetary mining settlement, while “The Moon-Master’s Ball” contains strange, unearthly creatures.

The variety of stories fit together perfectly, providing something for readers with a variety of tastes.  The stories are well-written and enjoyable.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Edwin: High King of Britian

The Roman legions left Britain many years ago, prompting many small kingdoms to rise and fall in their wake. Edwin, the exiled king of Northumbria, has spent nearly a dozen years traveling from court to court,  but when his current protector considers selling him out to his enemy, he sets out to flee again. He is stopped by a mysterious stranger, who prophesies that Edwin will ascend to greater power than any king in the land and learn of a new god.
The story of Edwin and his subsequent rise is told in the Venerable Bede's (8th century) history of England,  but relatively unknown to most people. The author vividly describes the land and people and keeps the plot moving.  Even the strange names are distinct enough to distinguish characters. Not only do readers see Edwin's political and martial triumphs, but the man's personal struggles are well-written and historically grounded.
Even though this book is historical fiction, I would also recommend it to fans of fantasy because of the well-characterized world and the echoes of Arthurian legend.
I received a free copy of this book from  Kregel Publications but was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Merlin's Nightmare

The Arthurian legends have been told in retold over the years, from Lord Tennyson’s poems to the BBC drama Merlin.  Among the many adaptations, the Merlin’s Spiral trilogy stands out  with its emphasis on historical context and portrayal of conflict between Druids and Christianity.
Merlin’s Nightmare, the third book in the series, picks up roughly fifteen years after the High King’s death.  Merlin and Natalenya live in relative peace in the homestead of Ector, raising their own children and Arthur. But the fragile peace is cracking under Saxenow and Pieti invasions.  When Vortigern attempts to raise an army to fight the invaders, Arthur unknowingly heads out to aid the man who killed his father.
Like the previous books, Merlin’s Nightmare blends historical settings with fantastic elements.  While Morganthu and her grandfather may think the Voice and the Stone are under their control, they are playing with wildfire that could easily devour them as well as their enemies.  The unpredictability of this power increases the tension instead of providing an easy solution.
The book ends with a surprising twist that sets up a new series: the Pendragon Spiral, while concluding several threads from the previous books. I am looking forward to the new series and seeing what happens next.

I was given a free copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.