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Harvest Moon: A Tangled Web\Cast in Moonlight\Retribution

Harvest Moon: A Tangled Web\Cast in Moonlight\Retribution

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by Mercedes Lackey, Michelle Sagara, Cameron Haley

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Three unforgettable new stories

A Tangled Web by New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey

Kidnapping Persephone should have been an easy task. But in the Five Hundred Kingdoms, nothing's ever simple—and the wrong blonde goddess is stolen by mistake, leaving Prince Leopold without his new bride. At least until he braves


Three unforgettable new stories

A Tangled Web by New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey

Kidnapping Persephone should have been an easy task. But in the Five Hundred Kingdoms, nothing's ever simple—and the wrong blonde goddess is stolen by mistake, leaving Prince Leopold without his new bride. At least until he braves the realm of the dead to get her back…

Cast in Moonlight by New York Times bestselling author Michelle Sagara

Barely a teenager, Kaylin Neya is a thief, a fugitive and an attempted assassin. She also has a smart mouth, sharp wits and mysterious markings on her skin. All of which make her perfect bait for a child prostitution sting in the city of Elantra—if she survives her first meeting with the Hawks!

Retribution by Cameron Haley

In the underworld, there are tricks to killing.

Like executing rivals at crossroads so ghosts won't follow you home. But sometimes retribution is hard to avoid—and now a supernatural hit man has a contract on Domino Riley's life. Luckily she knows a thing or two about death….

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms novel is a delightful
fairy-tale revamp. Lackey ensures that familiar stories are turned on their ear with amusing results."

-RT Book Reviews on The Snow Queen

"Sagara swirls mystery and magical adventure together with unforgettable characters in the fifth Chronicles of Elantra installment."

-Publishers Weekly on Cast in Silence

"Mob Rules is exciting and fresh, with a complex and conflicted heroine who grabs your attention and doesn't let go. This book will make you fall
in love with urban fantasy all over again!"

-Diana Rowland, author of Mark of the Demon

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It was the usual perfect day in Demeter's gardens in the Kingdom of Olympia. Birds, multicolored and with exquisite voices, sang in every tree. Flowers of every sort bloomed and breathed delicate perfumes into a balmy breeze that wandered through the glossy green foliage. It would rain a little after sundown, a gentle, warm rain that would be just enough to nourish, but not enough to interfere with anyone's plans. The only insects were the beneficial sort. Troublesome creatures were not permitted here. When a goddess makes that sort of decision, you can be sure She Will Be Obeyed.

Now and again a dramatic thunderstorm would roar through the mountains, reminding everyone—everyone not a god, that is—that Nature was not to be trifled with. But it stormed only when Demeter and Hera scheduled it. Everyone had plenty of warning—in fact, some of the nymphs and fauns scheduled dances just for the erotic thrill of it. Zeus enjoyed those days as well, it gave him a chance to lob thunderbolts about; and the other gods on Olympus would be drinking vats of ambrosia and wine and encouraging him.

Meanwhile, on this perfect afternoon of this perfect day, in this most perfect of homes in the center of the most perfect of gardens, Demeter's only daughter, Persephone, stood barefoot on the cool marble floor of the weaving room and stared at the loom in front of her, fuming with rebellion.

There was nothing in the little weaving room except the warp-weighted loom, and since you had to get the light on it properly to see what you were doing, you had to have your back to the open door and window, thus being deprived of even a glimpse of the outdoors. It was maddening. Persephone could hear the birdsong, smell the flowers, and had to stand there weaving plain dyed linen in the dullest of patterns.

Small as the room was, however, Persephone was not alone in it. There was a tumble of baby hedgehogs asleep in a rush-woven basket, and a young faun sitting on the doorstep, watching her from time to time with his strange goat-eyes. There were doves cooing in a cornice, a tumble of fuzzy red fox-kits playing with a battered pinecone behind her. Anything Persephone muttered to herself would be heard, and in the case of the faun, very probably prattled back to her mother. De-meter would sigh and give her The Look of Maternal Reproach. After all, it was a very small thing she had been tasked with. It wasn't as if she was being asked to sow a field or harvest grapes. It wasn't even as if she was weaving every day. Just now and again. Yes, this was all very reasonable. There was no cause for Persephone to be irritated.

Of course there was, but it was a cause she really did not want her mother to know about.

Persephone wanted to scream.

She had the shuttle loaded with thread in one hand, the beater-stick in the other, and stared daggers at the half-finished swath of ochre linen before her. Oh, how she loathed each. Not for itself, but for what it represented.

I love my mother. I really do. I just wish right now she was at the bottom of a well.

Persephone took the beater-stick and whacked upward at the weft she had created. Of all the times for her mother to decide that the weaving of her new cloak had to be done…this was the worst. In fact, the timing could not possibly have been worse. She had spent weeks on this plan, days setting it up, gotten everything carefully in place, managed to find a way to get rid of the nymphs constantly trailing her, and now it was ruined. Stupid Thanatos would probably drive the chariot around and around a few dozen times, forget what he was supposed to do and head back to the Underworld; he was a nice fellow, but not the sharpest knife in the kitchen. Well, really, how smart did you have to be to do the job of the god of death? Just turn up at the right time, escort the soul down to the Underworld, and leave him at the riverbank for Charon. Not something that took a lot of deep thinking.

And poor Hades—oh, wait, Eubeleus, she wasn't supposed to know it was Hades—would spend half the day questioning him until he finally figured out what had happened. It had to be Thanatos, though, that was the only way this would work. Otherwise, things got horribly complicated.

She wasn't supposed to know she was going to be carried off to the Underworld, just as she wasn't supposed to know her darling wasn't a simple shepherd. She was supposed to be "abducted" by "a friend with a chariot." But she had known Hades for who he was almost from the beginning, and given that her darling was Hades, who else would drive his chariot? Not Hypnos, that would be incredibly foolhardy. Certainly not Charon. Minos, Rhadamanthus or Aeacus? Not likely. First of all, Persephone had the feeling that the former kings and current judges intimidated Hades quite a bit, and he wasn't likely to ask them to do him that sort of favor, never mind that he was technically their overlord. And second, she had the feeling that he was afraid if one of them did agree, he might be tempted to keep her for himself. Poor Hades had none of the bluster and bravado of his other "brothers," Poseidon and Zeus. He second-guessed himself more than anyone she knew. That was probably another reason why she loved him.

Of course, Hades didn't realize she knew the other reason why the abductor had to be Thanatos, because he didn't know she knew—well, everything.

We can set it up again, she promised herself. It wasn't the end of the world. She was clever, and "Eubeleus" was smitten. Even if she hadn't met all that many men—thanks to Mother—she could see that. His feelings went a lot deeper than the lust the nymphs and fauns and satyrs had for each other too; the way he had been so patient, so careful in his courtship, spoke volumes. He was willing to be patient because he loved her.

And she was smitten in return. She didn't know why no one seemed to like the Lord of the Underworld. It wasn't as if he was the one who decided how long your life would be—that could be blamed on the Fates—and he wasn't the one who carried you off; that was Thanatos. He was kind—it was hard being Lord of the Dead, and if he covered his kindness with a cold face, well, she certainly understood why. No one wanted to die. No one wanted to have everything they'd said and done and ever thought judged. No one wanted to leave the earth where things were lively and interesting when you might end up punished, or wandering the Fields of Asphodel because you were ordinary. And everyone, everyone, blamed Hades for the fact that they would all one day end up down there.

The Underworld was not the most pleasant place to live, unless you were remarkable in some way. From what she understood, on the rare occasions when she'd listened to anyone talking about it, Hades didn't often get a chance to spend time in the Elysian Fields where things were pleasant—he mostly got stuck watching over the punishment parts. If he was very sober, well, no wonder! He needed a spot of brightness in his life. And she would very much like to be that spot of brightness.

Besides being kind, and patient, and considerate, he never seemed to lose his temper like so many of the other gods did. He was also quite funny, in the dry, witty sense, rather than the hearty practical joking sense like his brother-god Zeus.

She had started out liking him when they first met and he was pretending to be a shepherd. And as she revisited the meadow where he kept up his masquerade many times, she found "liking" turning into something much more substantial rather quickly. They'd done a lot of talking, some dreaming, and a fair amount of kissing and cuddling, and she had decided that she would very much like things to go straight from the "cuddling" to the "wild carrying-on in the long grass" that the nymphs and satyrs were known for. But he had been unbelievably restrained. He wanted her to be sure. Not like Zeus, oh, no! Not like Poseidon, either! They'd been seeing each other for more than a year now, and the more time she spent with him, the more time she wanted to spend with him. Finally he had hesitantly asked if she would be willing to defy her mother and run away with him, and she had told him yes, in no uncertain terms whatsoever.

He never seemed to have even half an eye for anyone else, either. And not many males paid attention to little Persephone—though it was true she didn't get a chance to see many, the few times she had been up to Mount Olympus with her mother, she might just as well not have been there.

It would have been hard to compete for the attention of the gods anyway. She wasn't full-bodied like her mother—face it, no one was as full-bodied as her mother except Aphrodite. She didn't make men's heads turn when she passed. By all the powers, men's heads turned when just a whiff of Demeter's perfume drifted by them! Aphrodite might be the patron of Love, but Demeter was noticed and sought after just as much. Zeus even gave her that sort of Look, when he thought Hera wasn't watching; Poseidon would always drop leaden hints about "renewing the acquaintance."

Not that she noticed. She was too busy being the mother of everything that wandered by and needed a mother. Demeter, goddess of fertility, was far more of a "mother" than Great Hera was. Hera couldn't be bothered. Demeter yearned to mother everything.

Oh, yes, everything. As Persephone grew up, she had resigned herself to being part of a household filled to bursting with babies of all species. Fawns and fauns, nests full of birds, wolf-cubs and wild-kits, calves and lambs, froglets and snakelets, mere sprouts of dryads; if a species could produce a baby and the baby was orphaned, Demeter would take it in. Very fine and generous of her, but it meant that even an Olympian villa was filled to the bursting, and Persephone shared her room with whatever part of the menagerie didn't fit in anywhere else. She might have a great many playmates, but she never had any privacy.

Or, for that matter, silence.

Demeter sailed through it all with Olympian serenity. After all, she was a goddess—granted, a goddess of a tiny Kingdom, one you could probably walk across in three days—but still, she was a goddess, and a goddess was not troubled by such things.

Her daughter, however…

Her daughter would like a place and a space all her very own, thank you, into which nothing could come unless she invites it. Is that so much to ask?

The fox-kits had gone looking for more adventures, but there were still four of the foundlings here in the weaving room, ensuring she didn't have any privacy. Not counting the hedgehogs, the faun was still in here, now there was a nymph sorting through the yarn to find something to use to weave flower crowns with, and there were a couple of sylphs chatting in the win-dowsill, for no other reason but that the windowsill was convenient. Unless, of course, Demeter had sent them to keep an eye on her. Persephone threw the shuttle through the weft again, trying not to wince at the noises the little faun by the door was making, trying to master his panpipes for the first time.

If Demeter had her way, Persephone would be the "little daughter" forever. Though nearly twenty, she'd aged so slowly that her mother was used to thinking of her as too young for any separate life. She'd never be alone with a male, never have an identity of her own. There was no doubt that Zeus himself was infatuated with Demeter, though he would never say so to his wife, nor probably even to Demeter herself. After all, Demeter was in charge of marriage vows, so she would take a dim view of that. But that was why it was no use complaining to Zeus. He would just pat her on the head, call her "Little Kore" (Oh, how she hated that childhood nickname!) and tell her that her mother knew best.

And Hera would take Demeter's side too, as would Hestia. Aphrodite would probably take Persephone's part, if only for the sake of mischief, but having Aphrodite on your side was almost worse than having her as your enemy. Whatever Aphrodite wanted, Athena would oppose. And any god who wasn't infatuated with Demeter would still side with her, because she controlled the very fertility of this Kingdom. No god wanted to risk her deciding that nothing would grow in his garden…or that his "plow" would fail to work the "furrow" properly.


The loom rocked a little with the vigor of her weaving, the warp-weights knocking against each other as she pulled the heddle rod up and dropped it back again and beat the weft into place with her stick. She hated the loom, she hated standing at it, she hated the monotonous toil of it, and hated that although her mother considered it to be a proper "womanly" task, she was not considered to actually be a woman.

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.

New York Times bestselling author Michelle Sagara writes as both Michelle Sagara and Michelle West; she is also published as Michelle Sagara West. She lives in Toronto with her long-suffering husband and her two children, and to her regret has no dogs.

She can be found @msagara on Twitter or http://msagarawest.wordpress.com

Cameron Haley, the pseudonym for Greg Benage, was born in Oklahoma and went to Tulane University. He created, wrote, and edited dozens of bestselling and award-winning roleplaying titles. Mob Rules was his first published novel, followed by the novella “Retribution” in the Harvest Moon anthology and Skeleton Crew. He is currently living in Georgia.

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Harvest Moon 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
KikiD870 More than 1 year ago
A Tangled Web is the first novella in the book and is the story of the Greek god Hades and his bride Persephone. The usual tale is that Hades essentially kidnaps Persephone, forcing her to be his wife. Lackey's version is a fresh and often humorous retelling in which Persephone and Hades plot to be together despite the interference of Persephone's mother, Demeter. A pair of gods, Brunnehilde and Leopold, from Norse mythology added an interesting subplot and twist to the story, as well. The gods of Greek mythology were far more human in this version of the story, and far more relatable to the reader. Anyone who has read any of Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms novels will also recognize the references to "The Tradition" and to Godmother Elena, although the story is easily enjoyed without having read those works. I am a huge Mercedes Lackey fan, so I enjoyed the headlining story, but it was my least favorite of the three. The second novella, Cast in Moonlight, by Michelle Sagara, was set in the world of Elantra. Not having read any previous works by Sagara, I was not at all familiar with Elantra or its inhabitants. The very beginning was a little confusing for me, and I suspect that was because of a lack of familiarity with the setting, but it sorted itself out quickly. The heroine is 13 year old Kaylin, who is captured after trying to assassinate Lord Grammayre, the leader of the Hawks. Expecting a death sentence, she is stunned when her intended target decrees that she will become one of them, a Hawk. The journey of self-discovery that Kaylin goes through as she adjust to her new life, all while dealing with betrayal, intrigue and magic, is extremely engaging. I very much enjoyed this novella. The final novella is Retribution by Cameron Haley, another author that I had not read. The very first line, "I was twelve years old the first time I killed a man", sparked my interest in the heroine. Dominica Riley is a hard woman, a sorceror and enforcer for the Underworld mob. After an attempt on her own life, she kills in retribution and soon learns that there will be severe consequences, even after her enemy is dead. Definately more violent and more graphic than the previous two novellas, Retribution is a dark tale of violence, magic, and self-discovery, Of the three, this one was definately my favorite!
Cid More than 1 year ago
A Tangled Web by Mercedes Lackey This story takes place in the Five Hundred Kingdoms; a world governed by the will of magic to follow set paths. Paths are stories like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and so forth. Magic pulls a person who fits those molds into those types of stories - even if all the parts aren't present and even if it has a terrible ending. A Tangled Web combines Norse and Greek mythology in the story of how Persephone is kidnapped by Hades. The story is magical, fun, and explores the traditional lines of fairy tales as the heroes try to use magic's Tradition to work for them. If you're looking for something fantasy, something magical, something adventurous - this is a great bite sized story to get into the world of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. Other books in the Five Hundred Kingdoms universe include: The Fairy Godmother, One Good Knight, Fortune's Fool, The Snow Queen, The Sleeping Beauty Cast in Moonlight by Michelle Sagara This is the one story in this anthology I knew nothing about. From what I can tell, Cast in Moonlight is a prequel story to the Chronicles of Elantra, which features Kaylin Neya. In Cast in Moonlight, she is barely a teenager, sent to kill someone. Her would be victim catches her and instead of the quick death she expects, Kaylin is given the chance at a new life. The world around the city of Elantra is complex - too complex to probably grasp in the span of this short story, but I can say that I'm interested. The different races, the magic system, the undercurrent of something's-just-not-quite-right makes for a very compelling read. Other books in the Chronicles of Elantra series include: Cast in Shadow, Cast in Courtlight, Cast in Secret, Cast in Fury, Cast in Silence, Cast in Chaos Retribution by Cameron Haley I'll admit - I was really excited about this story. A prequel to Cameron Haley's debut novel, Mob Rules, Retribution is a glimpse into what D's life was like before the fairy world came knocking. In Retribution, D has to use her brains and juice to defeat a death curse, untangle messy mob business, and keep her nose clean from the cops. I love the world Haley has created for her Underworld Cycle books; they aren't much on the happy, adventure kind of story. They're fairly gritty, exploring the dark underbelly of the mob world as it could be if they dealt in magic and arcane. Other books in the Underworld Cycle: Mob Rules (See my review of Mob Rules.) and Skeleton Crew, slated to be out May 2011.
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I enjoyed this book so much! Mercedes Lackey does it again. Highly addictive. Couldn't put it down. It's worth rereading.
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