Mercedes Lackey The Black Swan (Gollancz)

ISBN 13: 9780575072855

The Black Swan (Gollancz)

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9780575072855: The Black Swan (Gollancz)

After his wife's untimely death, a powerful sorcerer dedicates his life to seeking revenge against all womankind. He turns his captives into beautiful swans--who briefly regain human form by the fleeting light of the moon. Only Odette, noblest of the enchanted flock, has the courage to confront her captor. But can she gain the allies she needs to free herself and the other swan-maidens from their magical slavery?A monumental tale of loyalty and betrayal, of magic good and evil, of love both carnal and pure, and of the duality of human nature, The Black Swan is a rich tapestry which is sure to become an all-time masterpiece of fantasy.

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Review:

Mercedes Lackey takes readers back to the ballet with her latest fairy tale fantasy, The Black Swan, which retells the story of Swan Lake. Lackey preserves much of the ballet's action but provides a happier ending than the original German folktale had. She also gives the characters depth and motivation by providing them with histories.

Baron Eric von Rothbart, a powerful sorcerer, hunts down women who have betrayed men and transforms them into swans who can only resume their true forms by moonlight. His lonely daughter Odile, who watches the flock and studies spells, longs vainly for his approval. One day von Rothbart tells Odette, the swan princess, that she can break the spell by winning and holding a man's faithful love for one month. He's even chosen a candidate, Prince Siegfried. Unfortunately, the prince is a womanizing hedonist. Should Odette succeed nevertheless, von Rothbart secretly plans a trap for them and the prince's ambitious mother, Queen Clothilde, who schemes to rule in her own right. But he must use Odile, who has befriended Odette and is no longer her father's puppet.

Some readers may find the descriptions of dancing and costumes tedious--and Prince Siegfried a questionable hero. Odile, however, is as vivid a heroine as any Lackey's written. --Nona Vero

From the Back Cover:

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 women who arouse his wrath and inspire his rage for vengeance against all womankind. These poor souls he turns into swans -- forcing them to spend their lives as beautiful but powerless animals who only regain their human forms briefly each night by the transitory light of the moon.

Yet though Odile is terrified of him, she has learned far more than her father, the baron, intended to teach her -- both of the magical arts and of Von Rothbart's idiosyncratic nature. And both as a woman and the guardian of his swan flock, her heart goes out to each and every young maiden ensorcelled by her vindictive father.

And then the noblest of Von Rothbart's enchanted flock, the Princess Odette, finds the courage to confront her captor, wresting from him a pact which could lead to freedom for herself and all the swan-maidens. Knowing Von Rothbart will use all of his magical cunning to avoid honoring this pact, will Odile have the strength to face him in a final magical confrontation which, if she fails, will lead to her death and the murder of all in her flock?

A monumental tale of loyalty and betrayal, of magic used for good and for evil, of love both carnal and pure, and of the incredible duality of human nature, THE BLACK SWAN is certain to be recognized as a masterpiece of fantasy.

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