Fortune's Fool (Five Hundred Kingdoms Series #3)

( 121 )


The seventh daughter of the Sea King, Ekaterina is more than a pampered princess-she's also the family spy. Which makes her the perfect emissary to check out interesting happenings in the neighboring kingdom…and nothing interests her more than Sasha, the seventh son of the king of Belrus. Ekaterina suspects he's far from the fool people think him. But before she can find out what lies beneath his facade, she is kidnapped!

Trapped in a castle at the mercy of a possessive Jinn, ...

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Fortune's Fool (Five Hundred Kingdoms Series #3)

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The seventh daughter of the Sea King, Ekaterina is more than a pampered princess-she's also the family spy. Which makes her the perfect emissary to check out interesting happenings in the neighboring kingdom…and nothing interests her more than Sasha, the seventh son of the king of Belrus. Ekaterina suspects he's far from the fool people think him. But before she can find out what lies beneath his facade, she is kidnapped!

Trapped in a castle at the mercy of a possessive Jinn, Ekaterina knows her chances of being found are slim. Now fortune, a fool and a paper bird are the only things she can count on-along with her own clever mind and intrepid heart.…

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
New York Times–bestselling author Mercedes Lackey spins a variety of fairy tales -- think The Little Mermaid and old Russian folktales -- into a satisfying romantic fantasy in this third installment in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series.

Katya, the youngest daughter of the Sea King, is sent by her father on a spying expedition. It's a perfect assignment for one with the unique ability to transverse both land and water. Once on land, Katya encounters a spectacular battle between two mages, then meets Sasha. He is also of royal birth -- the seventh son -- destined to play the part of the Wise or Fortunate Fool and Songweaver. Their instant affinity and blooming romance is interrupted when Katya's father calls her back on business: Two magical maidens have gone missing from an island. Katya disguises herself and gets kidnapped by the Jinn who is keeping the others prisoner, but it will take all her cleverness and powers, as well as Sasha's magic, to get them out alive. Readers will admire Katya's spirit, and fans of the previous two books -- The Fairy Godmother and One Good Knight -- will welcome the return of the Little Humpback Horse. Ginger Curwen
Publishers Weekly

Lackey's ornate, meandering third installment in her Five Hundred Kingdoms romantic saga (after 2006's One Good Knight) heralds the fair Princess Ekaterina, seventh daughter of the Sea King, whose magic enables her to surface from the watery deep and live on land as well. When her father dispatches her on a spying mission to the Drylands, she falls in love with the land-born seventh son of the king of Led Belarus, Prince Sasha Pieterovich, a Songweaver who calls on magic through music. But their steamy courtship is soon interrupted by an evil Jinn, who captures Katya and confines her to his castle along with dozens of other magically gifted females, whose powers he saps to enrich his own. But stealing clever Katya is a big mistake for the Jinn, as it leads to a pyrotechnic showdown—dragons and all—before the gifted couple continue on their path to wedded bliss. (Mar.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Able to move about on both land and water, the Sea King's seventh daughter, Princess Ekaterina—called Katya—serves her family as both ambassador and spy. When a mission to the realm of Belarus leads to her meeting with Prince Sasha, seventh son of the king and accounted a fool by all, she suspects that he is something more, but a greedy Jinn seizes Katya and traps her in a castle with his other royal prizes. New York Timesbest-selling author Lackey's latest addition to this series draws on the folklore and images of Russia and Eastern Europe, telling the tale of two special young people and their common destiny. Fans of Lackey's "Valdemar" series as well as general fantasy enthusiasts should enjoy this classic fairy tale with a pair of proactive, resourceful heroes. A good addition to most fantasy and YA collections.

—Jackie Cassada
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373802739
  • Publisher: Luna
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Series: Five Hundred Kingdoms Series, #3
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 265,916
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.62 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey has written over one hundred titles and has no plans to slow down. Known best for her tales of Valdemar and The Five Hundred Kingdoms, she's also a prolific lyricist and records her own music.
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Read an Excerpt

Shafts of golden light pierced the green twilight, penetrating the waving fronds of the forest to leave pools of light on the ground. The path to the Great Palace, paved with pearl shell, unraveled along the sand; a broad ribbon of iridescence, suddenly burning into a patch of blinding white when one of those shafts touched it. On either side of the path, at charmingly irregular intervals, stands of long, waving kelp, beds of colorful anemones, and coral "bushes" were being carefully tended by a small horde of tiny sea creatures.

No one ever actually set foot on the path, or truly even needed to use it. This was, after all, the bottom of the sea. People swam. Even the few two-legged people, like the Sea King's children, swam.

Nevertheless there was a path, winding through a "forest," though the forest was kelp, the "birds" were fish, and even the "hawks" had an analogue in the form of sharks and other predators.

There were all these things because the path went to a palace. The Tradition said that all palaces should have winding paths traveling through mysterious forests filled with enchanting wildlife.

So this Palace, although underwater, had such a path.

In many ways, it was a good thing that no one ever actually walked on the path. Pearl shell, while pretty, had very sharp edges, and no one down here wore shoes.

And that, Ekaterina, the youngest daughter of the Sea King, reflected, as she swam in a deceptively languid manner toward the palace, was a pity.

Katya loved shoes. Dainty, embroidered silk slippers. Thigh-high leather boots. Strange wooden things that were like walking with tiny tables strapped to one's feet. Dancing shoes, red-heeled shoes, shoes that were hardly more than thin little straps, shoes that were substantial enough to pound a nail with. She loved them all.

In fact, she loved clothing. She adored clothing. It didn't matter what the style, the fashion was, she loved clothing the way she loved shoes.

Sad, really, since no one wore clothing, or at least much that was like clothing, down here.

As a warrior in her father's Personal Guard, she wore her fish-scale armor of course. In fact, she was wearing it now, since she had been summoned for official business. It was as pretty as she could engineer, despite being first, and foremost, very functional. The fish scales glittered in the errant beams of sunlight filtering down through the kelp branches. It was the same pearly white as the shells beneath her, and gleamed with the same iridescence. The scales of the formfitting tunic were about the size of her thumbnail, while those on the sleeves of the tunic and the equally formfitting leggings were much, much smaller, about the size of the nail of a baby's littlest finger.

Her sharkskin boots were a dead white, matching the sharkskin belt and gloves. The belt held nothing at the moment. No sword, no knives. But Ekaterina didn't need a weapon. Ekaterina was a weapon.

Her hair had been bound up into a severe knot… another pity. She had lovely hair, as pearl-white as the shell also, and the fact that living under the sea allowed only two basic hairstyles—severe knot, or floating free—was another source of private regret for her.

Small wonder she welcomed her father's regular summons.

Hopefully this would be another trip to Dry Land! Even better if it was to a new bit of Dry Land, a place she had never been before! That would be glorious!

The nearer she came to the Palace of the Sea King, the more people she encountered, though most of them were dolphins and the smaller whales, who served as her father's Palace Guard. You could always tell a Guard creature from the fluke studs denoting rank; small gold or silver rounds much like earrings, and put in the same way. She always winced at a fluke-piercing, though the cetaceans were quite proud of enduring the pain. She supposed it must be like islanders' tattoos. They, too, made a point of experiencing the pain of their decorations.

There were a few mer-folk as well; a couple of the mermaids of her mother's Court, sitting, gossiping, and combing their hair. Mermaids did that a great deal. Part of it was because when your hair was long and floating free in the water and you didn't have two dozen little cleaner-shrimp to keep it disentangled and sorted the way the Queen did, it got knots very easily.

But part of it was The Tradition, which said very clearly that mermaids spent a lot of time combing their hair, sitting on rocks and singing, or both. Her father had managed to put an end to the part of The Tradition that had once made them sit on rocks and sing sailors to their doom—now they only enchanted the poor lads so that they forgot their One True Loves, at least until the One True Loves managed to break the spell. Her father was clever that way. He hadn't wanted sailors with their ears stopped up with wax or clay slaughtering his subjects, so back when he'd been the Sea Prince, he'd gotten hold of half a dozen very good bards and paid them generously to write songs on the new theme. It had taken several years of concentrated effort, spreading the songs, singing them in contests, even introducing very elegant versions into several nearby Royal Courts, but the effort had paid off handsomely. Now the only sea creatures that lured sailors to their doom were the Sirens, and they didn't acknowledge her father's authority, claiming to be descended from gods. So the Sirens could handle the odd clever hero with murderous intent on their own.

Katya reflected that her father really was one of the cleverest Sea Kings of his line. He wasn't the only King of the Sea, of course; for one thing, the sea was twice as big as the Dry Land, and it would be absurd to think that one person could govern all of it. But he was certainly one of the cleverest of those currently ruling. As a young Prince he had quickly come to understand how The Tradition shaped the lives of everything, and had determined that it would no longer be The Tradition that controlled the lives of his family and his people, but the other way around. To that end he had studied as much about it as he could, certainly as much as many Godmothers, and had educated his subjects in how it worked as well. But when you were a magical creature, as the peoples of the sea generally were, The Tradition had a tendency to shove you about more ruthlessly than any mortal.

Unless you knew how to do a little preemptive shoving of your own.

As Katya swam past the coral garden, she caught sight of her sister Tasha with her nose buried in a book, her back cradled by an enormous sea fan. There were no Godmothers for the sea creatures; evidently only mortals got the services of such cleverly manipulative creatures—but the Sea King was doing the next best thing to getting one.

He was training his very own Sorceress.

Now, all of the Sea King's children—and he had quite a few—had positions of real authority or meaningful jobs. He had told Ekaterina once that this was the way to make sure none of his offspring "went to the bad." "Everyone needs to have responsibility," he had told her. "The cleverer you are, the more responsibility you need. Nothing breeds discontent like idleness."

Tasha was one of the cleverest of his daughters, and she had a real aptitude for magic. Not that Katya envied her the special tutors, the tower of her own, and all the special considerations. Not once it had become obvious that Tasha was never going to leave the Palace grounds again.

Not that Tasha cared. That was the genius of the Sea King; his children were all considered and studied as carefully as any sculptor would study a block of stone, and then positions were created for them that suited not only their talents, but their aptitudes, and not only their aptitudes, but their desires.

Katya had enough wanderlust for twenty sailors. She was never happier than when she was sleeping in strange beds, eating strange foods, and wearing strange clothing.

Oh yes. Especially wearing strange clothing.

Tasha did not even notice as her sister swam past. But then, it would take the eruption of a volcano beneath her feet to get Tasha out of a book of magical theory once she was deeply engrossed. Such ability to concentrate was invaluable to a Sorceress, whose life might well depend on being able to carry out every step of a complicated ritual while an Evil Mage was throwing everything he had in the way of an attack at her head.

Now, Mischa, the Crown Prince, would not dare to allow his mind to be so focused. A King—or a Prince in line for the throne—needed to be able to divide his attention among a dozen or more things at once, and change from task to task on an instant, exactly like a juggler keeping a complicated number of balls in the air at once.

Mischa was superbly suited for such a thing, to the extent that the people were already calling him "Prince Mikael the Clever."

That was a talent he shared with Ekaterina, though the throne was absolutely the last thing she wanted. Ever. Not all the lovely dresses in the world and the ability to wear them underwater could have bribed her to take the throne.

The kelp forest abruptly gave way to open sand, and the Palace rose up before her in all its splendor. A dazzling ray of sun pierced through the surface of the ocean far above, and bathed the intricate spires and delicate towers in green-tinted glory. It looked for all the world as if nature had conspired to put that shaft of sunlight right there—

And of course, Katya knew very well that it had.

Here again was the hand of The Tradition at work. The Tradition decreed that the first sight of the Sea King's Palace should be of it bathed in a shaft of sunlight piercing the depths.

So, of course, it was. All the time—well, all the daylight time at any rate. By night, as long as there was a moon of any strength, it was bathed in moonlight. As a child, Ekaterina had taken particular and mildly mischievous delight in dragging visitors through the kelp forest on wretched and stormy days just to see that shaft of sunlight break through the clouds in time to perform its magic.

The walls were made of pink coral, carved and polished to a soft glow. Beautiful patterns had been inlaid around each window in mother-of-pearl, black and red coral.

Unlike the fortress-palaces of Rus, this place could not possibly withstand a siege, or even the attack of a child with a sling and a stone. There looked to be two dozen spiral spires, like the long and delicately pointed sea-shells or a narwhal's horn, and half again as many filigree towers. In fact there were twenty-one spires and nine towers, each of them the private domain of someone in the Royal Family. Not just the King and Queen and their brood, but the Dowager Queen, and several assorted Aunts and Uncles. Whenever another family member turned up, if there were no vacant places available for them, another was created.

This wasn't just whim or fancy. This was, after all, the sea, and such an arrangement made it possible for the Royals to come and go as they liked without having to pass through the rest of the Palace. When you lived at the bottom of the sea, an exit was as easy as swimming out your window, and the towers gave discreet points from which to do so. No doubt many Royals in the past had taken such exits to have adventures—or even to meet with a paramour they had rather their spouses didn't know about.

To Katya's immediate right, the parade grounds, which just now were empty, but often as not held her brother Mischa as he drilled his troops. For the most part, the Sea King's troops were ranged in "battles" that had very little to do with war. There were monsters in the sea, enormous behemoths that came with ravening appetites for which a whale was nothing more than a morsel to whet the appetite. When they appeared, they had to either be killed or driven away, and it took strong creatures armed to the teeth to do so. Mischa thrived on combat, hence his position as the Commander of all of the Sea King's forces.

And though the army was a small one, it was formidable, for Mischa employed magicians alongside the armsmen, training the two to work together as a seamless whole. To Ekaterina's certain—and it was very certain—knowledge, no one else in the sea kingdoms did such a thing. As a consequence, it was vanishingly unlikely that any attempt to take this kingdom by force would succeed.

Today Mischa was out there alone, drilling. The resistance of the water to fast movement made sword-work impractical, so the most common weapons beneath the sea were extremely powerful bows and arrows, trident, spear, and knife. Today he was working with knives, battling a seaweed-stuffed dummy that already was losing its stuffing.

She swam a bit faster; this close to the Palace there was always the chance of being ambushed by a would-be suitor, some acquaintance trying to find a way to the King more direct than waiting his turn for an audience, or one of the young women at the court hoping for one of Katya's brothers to happen along.

Katya was of the mind that her brothers were perfectly capable of deciding for themselves who they would and would not court, she was not about to play the stooge for yet another sycophant, and as for would-be suitors for herself…

Those, she could do well enough without. So far there had not been a single young man she had ever met that could keep up with her. To be brutally frank…they bored her silly.

All they ever thought about was the Court. Who was advancing, who was declining, who was allied with whom, and what that meant for the tiny, tiny circle of "those in the know." They never looked past the boundaries of the magical barrier around the Palace grounds to the greater and far more dangerous world of the open sea, much less to the Dry Land. Most of them didn't even know the names of the countries that bordered this Kingdom, if they weren't also Sea Kingdoms.

They didn't think twice about the very powerful and, at the same time, very delicate magic that kept the water warm, those without gills breathing, and predators peaceful. This was the only place in the Kingdom where a seal could swim with an orca and the orca wouldn't even think of harming it.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 121 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 123 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Fortune's Fool is a delightful addition to the 500 Kingdom's ser

    Fortune's Fool is a delightful addition to the 500 Kingdom's series. It takes the readers to the icy waters of the Artic Ocean, where we meet Katya, a mermaid with siren's blood. Her special spot in the family, forteenth born along with being the seventh daughter, gives her ablities that the others do not share. She is her father's eyes and ears on the dry lands that border his kingdom. She is sent to gather information for him in places like "Nippon" or what I believe is modern day Japan. Meanwhile, Sasha, the seventh son of the king of Led Belarus, is a wise fool and a songweaver makes his rounds about his father's kingdom. He is kind and wise but ever so lonely. The two make a cute match and fall quickly in love. However, they are both duty bound to honor their father's wills and are seporated. Katya finds herself in a situation where she has bitten off a little more than she can chew. Never the less, she attacks the problem head on and does her share in the "saving the day" aspect of the story.

    Overall, I love how Mercedes Lackey takes traditional stories from all over the world and makes them fit together. The characters are easy to love reading about and I am thrilled when they return in future stories. I also like how aspects of the plot line links back to the previous stories as well. However, if you haven't read the other stories you will still enjoy this one. As a quick side note, having read a previous review I thought that the love making scene was going to be really X rated. It wasn't. It was fairly quick and the descriptions were minimal though a bit more than The Fairy Godmother. I did enjoy some of the humor that the characters interject at the expence of Sasha. I enjoyed this story, and so will you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2007

    a refreshing retreat from the cynical

    Fortune's Fool is the seventh son of a seventh son -a magical motiff mirrored by his true love, who is the seventh daughter of the Sea King. I've always appreciated Lackey's use of symbolism, and here the Traditions remind me of our collective unconscious, where so many ruling forces, such as religious beliefs and parental injunctions reside. I had fun reading this book because the characters found love and then fought to preserve it, and the 'villain' didn't need to get gory in order for that to happen. Frankly, I find the formulaic 'throw stones at the heroes' has gotten tedious. In contrast, Fortune's Fool entertains with humor and wit. Sasha and Katya give me hope that more people will consciously do something to improve their world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2007

    It's great to be good. It's better to be lucky!

    In the real world of fairy tale, or the Five Hundred Kingdoms, knowing how the Tradition works and knowing how to manipulate it means everything in order to live happily ever after. Magically, Mercedes Lackey spins a satisfying tale of the Fortunate Fool or Seventh Son of the king of Led Belarus to match the Seventh Daughter of the Sea King. Thus while in public Sasha is derided and laughed at, in private, he is his father¿s wise secret emissary to ensure that his kingdom is prosperous and peaceful. On the other hand, Katya is her father¿s secret agent. With her ability to walk on dry land, she is able to be his eyes and ears and sometimes act as his agent with humans. After a perilous misson in Nippon, her father sends Katya to the kingdom of Led Belarus.Both Katya and Sasha understand the Tradition very well, and so, Katya recognizes Sasha as a Songweaver who can persuade the Tradition to his will and a fortunate seventh son, and he recognizes Katya as a magical being. Of course, they fall in love with Katya¿s father¿s blessing. Thus when Katya goes on a rescue mission for her father, Sasha understands that duty comes first. However, when she fails to return, he know he must go to find her. However, he has his own adventure on his way to the sea, winning important allies in the battle to come, for an evil jinn has been kidnapping young magical maidens in order to gain power from them. With patience and the help of many allies, Sasha is able to help rescue Katya who has an important role in the rescue herself. Another wonderful story by a master.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014



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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013


    KINGDOM BIOS: Arralsgard- a large kingdom that specializes in miltary action and blacksmithery. Skandish- a large kingdom that specializes in hunting and fishing. Helmsway- a large kingdom tha scializes in farming and animal training. Heragun- a medium sized kingdom that specializes in tapestry and literature. Gryffelsteam- medium sized kingdom that specializes in technology and engineering.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012


    Another favorite.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    A good read

    This version of the little mermaid was good!

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  • Posted December 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    One of the best in the series!

    Another book in the five hundred kingdowms this book is about one of the fringe kingdoms not necessarily overseen by the Godmothers. However, it is a clear story of how wise kings all have to account for the Tradition in their lives and the lives of their subjects.

    I believe I enjoyed this story better than the first book.

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Great new twist to an old story but with a little more info than I wanted

    I really have enjoyed Mercedes Lackey's 500 Kingdom books. The new twist on such old stories are fantasic. The problem I had with this book was the fact that the sex scene had too much description. I was really surprised by it since this is the first truly descriptive scene of this nature that I have found from this author.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2011

    love it

    this is a great book for grown ups and kids alike after i got done with it i passed it on to my fourteen yr old who loved it to its good for her to see you dont have to be what others tell you that you can make your own way i plan on getting the rest

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    One of my favorites by Lackey

    I truly love the epic style of writing and her attempts to play with stereotypes while tweeking them just a bit. Very fun and interesting to read

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Lovers of Lackey, will Love This

    What a fun break from her Valdemar series. Actually, in general, this series is much more mature. More plot, more character development, and an interesting idea. If you are a fan of mythology its fun to recognize the different myths and elements in Lackey's stories. It is the perfect book to read on a rainy day, in bed. I look forward to more books in this series.

    Below is my order of favorites in this series, NOT in the order they are written
    1. The Fairy God Mother
    2. The Snow Queen
    3. One Good Knight
    4. Fortune's Fool

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  • Posted June 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Exciting, Entertaining, and Energizing

    Mercedes pulls on every woman's dream to be swept off their feet and into a fairytale. The characters are strong and very interesting. The book will take you away from your world and throw you into a new one. I recommend you set aside time to read this book, because once you start its hard to put it down.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent romantic fantasy

    Katya, the Sea King¿s daughter, is the only one besides her father who can breath while walking on land or swimming under the water. It is her trait that makes it easy for her dad to use her as an agent when it appears trouble is happening on the mortal land. He directs her to the realm of Led Belarus to learn why things are too quiet there since historically whenever that has occurred epic catastrophes follow. When she arrives at her destination, Katya meets Prince Sasha, the seventh son of the king, who is both a Wise Fool and a Storyweaver. The land is peaceful because he coaxes with music and song the Tradition (Fate) to move wherever he deems it should go. They fall in love rather quickly while realizing they must part for awhile because her father wants to know as taken residence at the Katschei¿ Castle. Whatever that entity is, it has abducted young female magic users and soon includes Katya as one of the kidnapped. Sasha must go though many trials to find his soulmate. --- This romantic fantasy is a beautiful charming adult fairy tale. The love at first sight between the protagonists showcases the magic of Mercedes Lackey as the reactions between Katya and Sasha seems genuine, which in turn brings believability to the plot. There are various types of magical beings populating the tale, some good and some bad and some both, but all fascinating especially FORTUNE¿S FOOL. --- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted October 24, 2010

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    Posted May 15, 2014

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    Posted February 17, 2012

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    Posted December 21, 2011

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    Posted March 19, 2011

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    Posted February 24, 2011

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