Moving on to Fortune’s Fool brings us to Eastern European and Russian fairy tales. Remember Katschei the Deathless from The Fairy Godmother? It seems he left a castle behind and it’s no longer untenanted. This is the third time I’ve seen Mercedes Lackey pull out that particulary fairy tale (I believe it’s generally known as the Firebird), and really, I couldn’t be surprised. I know she loves it. But I’m getting distracted.
Fortune’s Fool has two main characters, which is different from The Fairy Godmother and One Good Knight which each had a main character and several supporting characters. Even Alexander, from the first book, is still secondary to Elena. Here, however, we have Katya and Sasha, and they are shown as equals. It’s worth noting because one of the themes of the Five Hundred Kingdoms is strong, independent women and so men are not usually primary characters.
Princess Ekaterina (Katya) is the youngest daughter of the Sea King and, for lack of a better term, his spy. On a mission, she is sent to investigate the nearby kingdom of Led Belarus for being suspiciously problem free. There, she finds the reason behind the pastoral peace: Prince Sasha, Seventh Son of the King of Led Belarus, Fortunate Fool and Songweaver. Everything seems to be going swimmingly until Katya gets another assignment from her father…and disappears. That’s when bits and pieces from the previous two books get tied together into a massive climax.
To be honest, I was very surprised when Lackey continued the series past Fortune’s Fool because that was such a big climax, but the world is larger still and I suppose that repercussions wouldn’t necessarily touch more than a portion of a continent.
Still, we get a nice dose of Russian and Eastern European tales to reference and build off of, as well as a few other things. It’s as easy a story to guess as its predecessors, but that’s no bad thing. Of course, after the introduction to the Tradition and two subsequent novels analyzing and dissecting it, it almost seems like we’re starting to take it for granted. Which means it’s time to have some main characters who don’t have all that background to draw on.
But first, there’s another Fairy Godmother to meet.