By Slanderous Tongues Mass Market Paperback – Feb 26 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Good and evil fairy factions continue to battle over the fate of Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII, in this lighthearted, historically detailed third installment in the Scepter'd Isle series (after 2005's Ill Met by Moonlight). To prevent the 14-year-old red-haired princess from ascending the throne, the Dark Sidhe, or Unseleighe, plan to destroy her benevolent Seleighe guardians, Lord Denoriel and his twin sister, Aleneil. Without them to guide her, Elizabeth might slip up, misbehave or marry—defeating the prophecy that she will one day rule England. But Denoriel and Aleneil's Dark Sidhe half-siblings, the twins Rhoslyn and Pasgen, shift their allegiances to help Denoriel and Aleniel keep Elizabeth safe and challenge the power of Vidal Dhu, prince of the Dark Sidhe. Lackey and Gellis blend the best of high fantasy with a grand dose of English history. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The feud between Bright and Dark elves in Tudor England continues (from This Scepter'd Isle, 2004, and Ill Met by Moonlight, 2005), further affecting Henry VIII's children. Bright and Dark agree that Elizabeth, should she reign, will generate the joy and accomplishment that feed the Bright, and Titania is protecting the princess. The Dark elves, whose taste is for human anguish and sorrow, labor to prevent Elizabeth's ascension. When Henry dies, and Edward succeeds, Dark, Bright, and most of the Tudor courts are rather stymied. Lackey and Gellis follow the historical events of Somerset's protectorship quite closely and put a neat twist on Seymour's courtship of Elizabeth by enclosing it in a Dark elves' plot. Elizabeth's interrogation after Seymour's arrest and her romance with her Bright elven protector strain credulity, yet this is still a good read. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Vidal Dhu learned that Elizabeth had been taken to an Unformed Land near the Unseleighe Lands and he attacked the party. Denoriel held off Vidal, but was losing Power when Oberon appeared and stopped the fighting. Elizabeth irritated Oberon by claiming Denoriel as her own, but Titania appeared and interrupted that conflict. Everybody fled while the Rulers of the sidhe settled their differences.
In this novel, as England mourns for their king, his children are uncertain without his presence. Ten year old Edward is now king and has been taken under the protection of his maternal uncle Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford. Mary is now an adult and has her own household. But no one seems to care about fourteen year old Elizabeth. Since her infancy, the King has directed her living arrangements. Now that Henry is gone, she wonders who will take charge of her life.
Her good friend Lord Denno -- Denoriel -- enlists the aid of the Dowager Queen to provide a place for Elizabeth. Catherine eagerly accepts the chance to do something meaningful and asks for permission from the Council to take the youngster into her household. The Council agrees and Catherine invites Elizabeth to live with her.
Denoriel has been Elizabeth's friend for a long time -- in mortal terms -- and is now having lascivious thoughts about her. Since he believes that she would never think of him in a lustful manner, Denoriel tries somewhat unsuccessfully to school his thoughts. Little does he know that Elizabeth is having the same problem about him.
Lady Alana -- Aleneil -- keeps watch over Elizabeth as one of her maids of honor. So does Blanche Parry, a mortal with some ability to sense magic. Both are necessary, because Prince Vidal Dhu of the Dark Sidhe still wants to kill Elizabeth. Even though Oberon has forbidden him, or any other Dark Sidhe, to directly attack the child, Vidal knows that Elizabeth's succession to the throne would lead to a wanting time for the Dark Court.
Rhoslyn -- half-sister to Denoriel and Aleneil -- performs a similar service for Vidal among Lady Mary's household. Yet Rhoslyn is becoming ever more dissatisfied with the Dark Court. Contrary to what she had been told, Rhoslyn has found that the energy that feeds the Bright Court can also sustain her. But she doubts that her brother Pasgen would leave the Dark Court with her, so she continues to follow Vidal's orders, if not quite as he would have preferred.
Pasgen discovers that the mists in one area of the Chaos Lands have developed sentience. Apparently the mists were awakened by Elizabeth's request for assistance and then provided a lion to attack her enemies. Now these mists are inhabited by vaguely humanoid shapes: one with red hair like Elizabeth and the other with gold hair like Denoriel. The mists welcome Pasgen and even solicit his return, but he is afraid of their potential.
Harry Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII, finds a calling in Underhill. The Sidhe domains of Alhambra and El Dorado have been cursed by the Spanish Inquisition and are now infested with the Great Evil and minor malignities. He has been enticing older Sidhe back from the Dreaming to fight against these malevolent forces.
In this story, Denoriel meets Thomas Seymour in Queen Catherine's home and notes that the man is very welcome there. Yet Thomas is a man of lusty desires and selfish concerns. He wants to marry either Elizabeth or Mary to gain political power. Mary has little use for him, but Elizabeth is too naive (and devoted to Catherine) to plainly state her objections to his unwelcome attentions.
Vidal nurtures various plots to increase hostilities in the British Isles and to remove Elizabeth from the succession. He urges the Scots to continue their raids across the border and to repel offers for political settlements. He also encourages the followers of the old religion to instigate slanders against Elizabeth.
Denoriel is kept busy defending himself from personal attacks and trying to protect Elizabeth from political ploys. Even Rhoslyn and Pasgen become involved in defending Elizabeth and Denoriel. Their efforts lead to Denoriel becoming less averse to peaceful relations with his Dark Court siblings.
This story continues the fantastic explanations of English history leading up to the Elizabethan Age. Of course, all the magical effects are hidden from history, but much happens beyond mortal kenning! This volume leaves plenty of unexplored history for sequels.
Highly recommended for Lackey and Gellis fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of magical adventures, Unseleighe plotting and Underhill romances.
-Arthur W. Jordin
Which is why I was shocked when Lackey and Gellis decided to present him as Elizabeth's lover, of all things. To me, this just doesn't work. It's absurd to have a man, or elf if you prefer, go from raising a child to suddenly seeing that same child as a potential love interest. Yes, I know Denoriel is unbelievably hot and sexy, but STILL. And the reasoning given, that in order to protect Elizabeth from being attracted to Thomas Seymour, she needs another lover to distract her, and Denoriel is conveniently available and can't get her pregnant, plus she has stirrings of puppy-love for him . . .no this is just ridiculous. They would have done better to go with the original historical line that Elizabeth disliked Thomas Seymour since she saw him only as a stepfather, with Denoriel protecting her the way a father or brother would have. The teenage Elizabeth, from all the biographies, was not the type to have casual affairs with men at ANY age, she valued her autonomy too greatly and she knew that once a man gets a woman in bed, back then it was seen as a powerplay, which was why she always avoided such things. Also she hated marriage because of the dangers it presented to a woman, witness her mother and Henry VIII, because it gave total control to the man. Saying she would never marry because she could have her Sidhe lover and thus never miss out on sex or have to worry about commitment doesn't fit the image of Elizabeth that I know. And what about Robert Dudley, Elizabeth's great unrequited love? He barely gets a mention, Elizabeth is so preoccupied with Denno. Unless they're going to bring him up in the next book and say that the reason Elizabeth was able to resist him for so many years was because she loved Denoriel. Spare me! All in all the whole Elizabeth-Denno affair seemed tawdry and cheap to me instead of tender and loving. It would have made better sense for him to have fallen in love with Elizabeth once she was queen and Dudley had married her cousin Lettice, then she would have been looking at him as a woman who has known love and loss, not as a starry-eyed adolescent. I felt it also diminished the very real danger Seymour's advances caused her reputation, since there was no chance she might respond to them and jeopardize herself, the way there was in actual history. It would have been better if there HAD been a chance, then the book would have had some tension and Denoriel would have been tested as to how he could protect his charge without revealing himself and the whole scene of questioning at the end would have been a lot more dramatic. Yes, i know this is alternative history, but I think Lackey did a much better job with her other series, alternate Venice in Shadow of the Lion and This Rough Magic.
However, to achieve his side's darkest objective of insuring Elizabeth's fall from grace, they must remove preferably by death her overly protective guardians, the traitorous Seleighe twin elves, Lord Denoriel and Lady Aleneil. Dhu assigns the elimination of the Princess' protectors to twins Rhoslyn and Pasgen; if anyone can get at Denoriel and Aleneil it is their Dark elven half-siblings. With them removed from the scene the prophecy will fail as Elizabeth will surely find a spouse or some way to alienate her half-siblings the recently crowned boy King Edward VI and the heir their older half sister Princess Mary.
The third Scepter'd Isle Elizabethan historical fantasy (see ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT and THIS SCEPTER'D ISLE) is an excellent blending of mid sixteenth century English royal history and a fantasy thriller. The stakes are high as the rival elven groups battle not only for their future but that of the humans. The key players from the mortal and paranormal realms seem genuine including the target Princess Elizabeth due to the mixing of real events and known facts of her young teen years into the story line. Fans will cherish this top quality collaboration between two distinguished authors from differing genres who prove that adding one and one can surpass two when greatness join forces.
I agree with the other reviewer who found the love affair between Denoriel and Elizabeth distasteful. I realize that in that era, it was normal for a girl to be married off in her early teens. However, a torrid affair between our fourteen-year-old heroine and the hundreds-year-old elf WHO RAISED HER took it a step too far.
A thought for parents- if your teens read this, you need to have The Talk about not taking what they read as an excuse for trying to get STD's or a pregnancy / paternity suit. It's true that in Elizabeth's day adolescents were apt to be married, and so were sometimes tempted to get the bedding ahead of the wedding, but they were also expected to be taking on adult workloads. Today's youngsters are apt to only see what they were allowed to do, and not notice the requirements of adult responsibilities as well as adult privileges.
Having said all of which, it's a good story, and provides interesting insights into the strains of being a royal child in those difficult times. If you like the book, but object to some of the content, you can always do what I did and use White Out so that the next time you read it you'll just skip past the parts you find objectionable.