Thursday, December 23, 2010

Black Swan: Part 3 -- Novel by Mercedes Lackey

In 1999, an author named Mercedes Lackey wrote The Black Swan, a novel based off the story of Swan Lake. The story is essentially the same, but with several major differences to offer flavor. For one, the story is mainly told through Prince Siegfried and Odile's perspectives.

The story begins with Odile taking care of the flock by their castle's lake. Odile believes and trusts her father for who else does she have to believe? She's locked away in the castle with nothing but her spell books. The only thing she longs for is for her father's affection, but his stony persona rarely delivers the attention she longs for unless she performs practical magic, such as cleaning the house or banishing pests.

Things start to change once Odile's father, Baron Eric von Rothbart, challenges Odette to find love. If she can find the love of a man, even with him knowing her as both a swan and a maiden, she and the rest of the flock will be free from the spell. Odile grows closer to the maidens as she speaks to them more and more. She dawns upon the realization that perhaps her father isn't all he seems.

Far away from the baron's home is the castle where Prince Siegfried resides. He is a womanizer and only seeks out the pleasures palace life can bring him. He remains this way until a tragic event wakes him up and forces him to change his ways. Luckily this change happens just before his birthday, which requires him to find a bride from a local group of princesses. What he doesn't know is that his own mother is making plans to ruin her son so she can remain queen.


Lackey diffidently did her research on the ballet. The names of the main characters have stayed the same. The swans change to girls at the touch of moonlight; all the essentials are there. She even knew that von Rothbart turns into an owl. (Not bad, Mercedes! Thumbs up from me!)

What has changed are some of the characters' personalities and how they are manipulated into the storyline. For example, Odile is used by her father, not his partner. Prince Siegfried is a romantic but is perhaps too romantic to too many girls. Odette is pretty much the same, but it is made clear that she is an educated woman of high rank, even outside the group of swans.

Lackey also adds some of her own story elements, such as the mother wanting to remain queen and the plans of a minstrel named Uwe (pronounced oo-vey. Because if you're like me, you probably pronounced it as "ew" originally.). Lackey also hints as to why Von Rothbert keeps all these swans where the ballet left it to the imagination. These all flesh out the story so it would be more fitting for a novel. Still, it's the tale of Swan Lake and told quite nicely too.

I really did enjoy Lackey's writing style. I read another novel she wrote that featured ballet and it wasn't as good, but this one knows its characters and story. It's a lovely retelling of the story Swan Lake, and honestly, one of the few out there. And even if you are lucky to find another one, I doubt they'll be quite as good as this one.

The novel is 402 pages long in paperback format and also has a hardback release. A copy can be found at Amazon and probably can still be found at physical bookstores since this is written by a popular fantasy author. The paperback novel is only $7.99.

Rating: 9/10
Definitely worth buying or at least a rent from the library!

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