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So I’m being strange; I’m reading my current book series backwards.

Currently, I’m reading Mercedes Lackey’s 500 Kingdoms series, and the series seems to have two main themes: the Godmothers who look after the various kingdoms and the Tradition. The Tradition is a force that travels around the kingdoms; it was created from people retelling fairy tales over and over again and now has taken on a life of its own. The Tradition is not sentient; as it travels, it forces people to comply with the Tradition, even if the circumstances are not suitable. It might find a young girl who fits the description of Cinderella, with the wicked stepmother and stepsisters, but the Prince of that Kingdom might be too old, too young or already married.

This is where the Godmothers step in. The Godmothers are spread out around the kingdoms and they try to manipulate the Tradition, as it manipulates the general population. Oftentimes, the Godmothers can only use the Tradition to create happy endings and hope that the people in the situation won’t end up in another Traditional story.

So far, I’ve read Beauty and the Werewolf, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Snow Queen; this is the order I read them in, reverse order of publication. They follow the tales of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and the Norse Ring Saga, and “The Snow Queen,” and “Snow White and Rose Red.” And there are three more novels in the series.

I enjoy reading the 500 Kingdoms novels; I like trying to find the various tales in the novels and see how the characters are going to get out of the Tradition, even when the general population doesn’t know what is going on. But the Godmothers are often pulling their hair out trying to keep everyone on safe paths, thwart the Tradition and keep track of everything they are doing. In The Snow Queen, the Godmother Aleskia has plans that won’t come to fruition for another five years, but she keeps track of them. In The Sleeping Beauty, Fairy Godmother Lily (yes, she’s really a Fae), is involved in the tale, trying to keep her kingdom safe from the brunt force of the Tradition and hopefully save the Kingdom from being devoured by enemies.

I know that one of the other novels involves the Greek myth of Andromeda and the Legend of St. George, and in another, a Godmother is the center of the Tradition. And I like that while each novel has familiar elements holding it together- The Godmothers and the Tradition- I can read them out of order. I didn’t need to read Snow Queen before Beauty and the Werewolf. But the whole series are great summer reads.

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