Once Upon A Spring Morn Mass Market Paperback – Oct 2 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
The fairy Princess Céleste of Springwood finds a lover in the chevalier Roél after he rescues her from brigands in McKiernan's entertaining fourth and final "seasonal" fantasy (after Once Upon an Autumn Eve), which takes its inspiration from the Childe Roland fairy tale. The feisty princess joins Roél on his quest to rescue his virginal sister, Avélaine, from the Lord of the Changelings before the evil ruler can defile the girl, impregnate her and steal her soul. On their travels through exotic kingdoms, Céleste and Roél must solve the Fates' riddles, outwit an Ogre, navigate past the Sirènes, best Greek mythical figures in Elysian Fields and pass through the Egyptian Underworld. Though McKiernan's characters have no depth and inconsistent sexual mores, the relentless, fantastical action will satisfy series fans. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Although expert with bow and arrow, Princess Celeste welcomes handsome knight Roel's aid when she is beset by would-be kidnappers one beautiful Springwood morning. This being at heart a romance, the two are instantly smitten. Soon he proposes, and she accepts. Before wedding, however, Roel must find and rescue his sister, Avelaine, and two brothers from the Changeling Lord--in one month, or the Changelings will possess Avelaine forever. The Fates assist the couple (Celeste having joined forces with Roel) en route but can advise them only in riddles. And so they are chased by goblins and ogres, Celeste is imprisoned by a troll, they encounter and are often terribly challenged by the Sphynx, the god Thoth, Cerberus the guardian dog of Hades, Hercules, Jason, Aeneas, and a mob of rotting, walking dead. When they reach the Changeling Lord's realm, things really get rough. McKiernan seamlessly sews together two fairy tales and adds unique twists and enhancements in his fourth seasonal volume of a world of Faery that ought to have been. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In this novel, Princess Celeste of Springwood rests in a fork among the huge branches of her Companion of Quietness, a massive oak tree. Here she comes whenever she feels uneasy and today she is here to brood over the absence of her sister Liaze. When she hears the sound of a horn, she frowns, for she has not sanctioned a hunt that day.
When the hunters appear below her, she confronts them and finds that they are hunting for HER. As they move on the tree to pull her down, she lets fly an arrow into the leader's breast. Just then a lone knight rides up and attacks her wouldbe kidnappers and she picks off the ones attacking from his rear.
The armed men are led by a raven, who flees into the forest crying "Revenge". Celeste's own guardsmen ride up just as the few surviving outlaws are fleeing and they gallop after them. The knight defender introduces himself as Sieur Roel and declares that he is questing for his missing sister and his two brothers, who had gone looking for her.
After his wounds are tended, Sieur Roel tells the full story of how his sister Avelaine was taken by the Lord of Changelings. Then he tells how his brother Laurent left to consult with the sage Geron before continuing onward in search for Avelaine. After Laurent had failed to return in three years, the second brother Blaise had ridden off to consult with Geron and then search for Avelaine.
Blaise had also failed to return for three years. Since Roel has now earned his spurs, he too went to consult with Geron and received Couer d'Acier to take with him on his quest. The older brothers had not wanted to wait for the sword to be fabricated, but it was ready when Roel came for advice.
The Heart of Steel had a steel core flashed over with silver and constructed with runes to suppress its steel aura. After Roel left Geron, he had to exchange all his steel weapons and appurtenances for bronze equivalents before he could enter Faery, but he was allowed to take the sword with him. It was this weapon that he used against the outlaws.
Roel had a long and difficult recovery, for the worst cut was also poisoned. While he rested in Celeste's chateau, Roel came to know the princess and gradually fell in love with her. Before he leaves, Celeste announces their betrothal to her retainers. By this time, Roel is well liked by all.
Although Roel objects, Celeste accompanies him on his quest. For the journey to Mizon, the first part of their travels, Celeste's warband escorts them. As they approach the port town, the group is attacked by Goblins, Ogres and Trolls and both Roel and Celeste flee through the twilight wall to the next land. When they cannot be found on either side of the wall, the warband returns to her chateau thinking that the couple are dead.
In this story, Roel and Celeste meet King's Captain Chevell of Mizon after they fall onto his ship, the Sea Eagle. The King's ship is pursuing corsairs who have stolen a rare map. When Roel and Celeste realize that this map is the one that they were going to Mizon to use in his quest, they join forces with Chevell and sail across the sea after the remaining freebooter ship.
Roel and Celeste have many other adventures as they travel toward the land of the Changelings. Along the way Celeste encounters the three Fates. After Roel complains that he hasn't meet any of them, Lady Doom appears to them both. As in the other Faery tales, Celeste acquires gifts from each of the Fates and uses them to complete the quest.
This Faery tale is based on two ancient stories: Le Bel Inconnu and Childe Rowland. The first is Arthurian and the second is a later English tale. As usual, the author adds embellishments that were surely in the original tales.
Highly recommended for McKiernan fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of the Faery lands, loyal knights and true love.
-Arthur W. Jordin
My reason for rating it so low is that it is very VERY similar to the other books in this series, especially "Once Upon an Autumn Evening." Scenario: Unwed and lonely princess comes across a wounded handsome stranger who is being pursued by evil forces. She nurses him to health and falls madly in love with him. Together, they must go on an incredible journey to complete his quest, of course separated from their war party, and encounter haunted mansions, various monsters and the Fates in predictable disguises with riddles. In the meantime, they frequently make sweet sweet love. Sound familiar? If you've read the other Faery books it should. Perhaps, as McKiernan hints, this repetition on a pattern is endemic to the nature of the fairy tales he is retelling. I expected a writer of McKiernan's calibur to put a more imaginative spin on the story rather than just fill in the blanks from a previous book.
The book gets very good about 3/4 of the way in and is much better from that point on.
Overall, I found this to be a magical book, and I don’t just mean that the storyline involved magic. The author does an excellent job of taking the feel of the old heroic tales of knights and damsels and love and battle, and bringing it forward into a modern story. I loved the interesting setting of Faery, combined with the knight right out of medieval literature. This is a very good book, one that is sure steal your heart.
Diane C. Donovan