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A series of fantasy books, mostly light romance, by Mercedes Lackey. In the realm known as the "Five Hundred Kingdoms," a force known as "The Tradition" tries to force people to live out "traditional" stories from fairytales, fables, and even bawdy bar songs.

The books center on the Fairy Godmothers. These women have huge amounts of magical power as a result of the Tradition trying to force them into a role that either circumstances or their own personalities made impossible. They use their Genre Savvy and experience to try and minimize the harm the Tradition can cause. For example, they might send a woman to rescue a heterosexual princess in order to avert the tragedy of a married woman falling in love with another man just because he happens to be her rescuer.

Good Wizards, Sorcerers, and Sorceresses usually take over when, despite a Godmother's efforts, Evil wins, and the stories also feature Champions who are Traditionally the ones to do the physical heroics, go on epic quests, and wield enchanted blades.

The books provide a relentless and quite entertaining send up of most of the standard Fairy Tale Tropes, both as they play out straight and as the active figures try to avert or subvert them. Recommended reading for all tropers.

The books in the series are

  • The Fairy Godmother (2004)
  • One Good Knight (2006)
  • Fortune's Fool (2007)
  • The Snow Queen (2008)
  • The Sleeping Beauty (2010)
  • Beauty and the Werewolf (2011)

There is also a story in the anthology Harvest Moon which is a sequel of sorts to The Sleeping Beauty.



This series contains examples of: Edit

  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Generally played straight, occasionally subverted for comic effect. When Sir George introduces himself as a "virgin knight," Andromeda snickers -- but George was not only a virgin, 'he' was "Georgina".
    • Also averted with Klava's master in Fortune's Fool, who satisfied the release conditions of a Jinn, who would remain bound until released "by the hand of a virgin of five and fifty years". Klava was most amused to find this out.
  • Ancient Grome: Acadia.
  • An Ice Person: The Snow Queen. Both of them.
  • Apothecary Alligator: In One Good Knight, a character comments that the Tradition requires the Acadian Sophont (the royal sage, basically) to have a stuffed crocodile hanging from the rafters. If he doesn't have one, it supplies one. Whether he wants it or not.
  • Artifact Title: In-universe example. Fairy Godmothers were formerly all True Fae, but now they are usually just humans approved by the Fair Folk. They are still called 'Fairy' as an honorific: the Rose Fairy, the Lilac Fairy, etc.
  • At the Crossroads: We get to see both sides -- the one being tested and the one doing the testing.
  • Badass Adorable: Unicorns in a fighting mood. So dumb, so pretty, so pointy.
  • Badass Damsel: Andie in One Good Knight, bordering on Guile Heroine. She doesn't fight any dragons, but she does learn how to use a sling and pick locks in preparation for her Chained to a Rock moment.
    • Princess Kylia in The Fairy Godmother, which impresses Godmother Elena.
  • Blessed with Suck: Many people whose lives the Tradition is attempting to steer, especially when their Happy Ending can't occur for one reason or another.
  • Blind Without'Em: Princess Andromeda.
  • Blood Brothers: A way to invoke certain Traditional paths. Andie does it with Sir George in One Good Knight to fend off the Rescue Romance that the Tradition is pushing on them, claiming that the Tradition never allows Brother-Sister Incest except in cases where the siblings don't recognize each other.
  • Born Lucky: The title character of Fortune's Fool, for one.
  • Brainless Beauty: As a rule, beautiful magical creatures will also be dumb as a post. Exhibit A: Unicorns.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic: Many, many things dealing with the Tradition are capitalized.
  • Chained to a Rock
  • Cinderella Circumstances: Elena at the beginning of The Fairy Godmother and countless other girls in many other kingdoms.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: If it's Traditional for someone in your role to have something, you'll have it -- whether you want it or not. Acadian Sophonts, for example, always have a stuffed crocodile in their offices, so the Tradition will supply one. No matter how often one throws out or destroys the thing, it will always come back.
  • Cool Horse: Several, especially the Sons of the East Wind.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Most successful Evil Wizards, Dark Sorceresses, etc.
  • Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday: The Tradition has certain deadlines, like significant birthdays, before which it must act or else the story will go unfulfilled.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: While the Tradition encourages Evil Villains to take on certain motifs, Arachnia uses these same symbols while actually working for the Godmothers as a tester. And her troll of a stableman is actually a decent fellow.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Oh yes. Godmothers are well aware that Traditional stories, romantic or poignant as they may be, can be tragic when they actually play out. The girl in the tower with the long hair may win her Prince -- but only after any number of young men are murdered to increase the power of the Evil Witch holding her captive, and presuming she doesn't go mad from the loneliness first.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Increasingly as the books go on. By The Sleeping Beauty, the beautiful princess is captured and enslaved by seven ugly, brutish dwarves; the Evil Stepmother is the Fairy Godmother in disguise; the poisoned apple is a scheme for Faking the Dead; the prince who wakes her with a kiss has both hands in places they really shouldn't be... and that's the beginning of the story.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: The Snow Queen. Again, both of them, though one features a slightly more literal example.
  • Distressed Damsel
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Part of the role of the good magic users is to put the heroes through enough difficulty that they lose their flaws and become more appreciative of their reward once they finally achieve it. Aleksia, the Snow Queen, particularly resents that her "clients" never appreciate what she does for them.
  • Engagement Challenge: Invoked by at least one clever monarch who wanted to find a strong, brave, and compassionate man to be a husband for his daughter and heir to his throne.
    • Also invoked in The Sleeping Beauty. This one does double duty -- the Kingdom of Eltaria is wealthy, and has greedy neighbors with armies. The princes are not only contenders for Rosamund's hand, but hostages keeping said neighbors from invading until a long-term solution is found.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses
  • Evil Chancellor
  • Explain, Explain, Oh Crap: Princess Andie realizing she had given her mother a reason to want her dead.
  • Expy: Some fairy tales are established in-world tropes, but they're called by different names (i.e. "Rapunzel" is "Ladderlocks").
  • The Fair Folk: Played arrow straight.
  • Fairy Godmother
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Both straight and subverted; All Myths Are True, but when elements from one culture turn up in Traditional storylines from another it usually means someone else has introduced them.
    • One of the best examples of this is in the short story "A Tangled Web" from the Harvest Moon anthology: it's a combination of Greek and Norse mythology with a prince of European background that was introduced in The Sleeping Beauty.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Several, of which one is to be completely cut off from the Tradition and condemned to live a completely ordinary, entirely non-magical life. (Unless that's what the person actually wants, and some do.)
  • Fisher King: Kingdoms with benevolent rulers tend to be more pleasant and fertile, with nicer weather, than kingdoms with evil rulers.
  • The Fool
  • The Force: The Tradition. Unusual for this trope, it makes both heroes and villains, since every story needs an antagonist.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale
  • Genre Savvy: Handy for the average person; a job requirement for Godmothers, White Wizards, and other helpful types.
  • Giant Flyer
  • God Save Us From the Queen
  • Good Is Boring: Most of the stories focus on characters with some moral ambiguity instead of the absolutely pure in heart. Not that characters never develop Incorruptible Pure Pureness, they just have to come to it the hard way.
  • Good Is Dumb: The straight-up heroes, virtuous maidens, etc. also tend to be naive compared to the cunning, experienced villains. Fortunately they have intelligent allies.
  • Guile Heroines: All Godmothers are wise and powerful magicians, but the most effective ones are these as well. Most of the major focus characters of the books are guile heroes in fact.
  • Heel Face Turn
  • Hollywood Tone Deaf: Bad singers and other horrid musicians are acceptable targets for humor in Lackey's works, and this series is no exception.
  • I Call It Vera: Both averted and played straight: Champions are able to make any weapon in their hand a magic weapon, but owning a sword called Haeldrin the Wyrm-slayer would surely give you an advantage should you meet an actual Wyrm.
  • Impossible Task
  • Invoked Trope: How Godmothers, Champions, and other Genre Savvy characters steer circumstances to their advantage.
  • Karmic Transformation: done to Prince Alexander by Elena to teach him humility.
  • The Kingdom: Five hundred of them, to be precise.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Many Traditional heroes, but particularly Champions.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In The Snow Queen, when a minor character needs to be made to forget that he just blabbed the villain's plot to Godmother Aleksia.
  • Lottery of Doom: In One Good Knight, to select the weekly virgin sacrifice.
  • Love Potion: Well, lust spell. It works for a while.
  • Lower Deck Episode: Some subplots are full fairytale stories in their own right, seen from the perspective of the characters who assist the heroes and heroines to their happy endings.
  • Magic Knight: Champions.
  • Magic Mirror: Mirror slaves are popular for both Good and Evil magic workers; the Good ones, of course, do not actually treat them as slaves.
    • The Snow Queen is a Mirror Magic specialist.
    • As is Godmother Lily, in The Sleeping Beauty; it becomes plot-relevant.
  • Magic Wand: Used by Godmothers and other magic users. They are mostly a focusing device for magic; breaking the wand does nothing at all.
  • Meaningful Name: Useful in certain circumstances, especially if a Traditional hero with the same name as you succeeded in doing something you're trying to accomplish.
  • Moral Myopia: Prince Alexander in The Fairy Godmother. It takes an extended Break the Haughty sequence to snap him out of it.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: both Sasha (seven kids) and Katya (fourteen kids} from Fortune's Fool
  • Mundane Utility: As with most Lackey books, generally averted. Characters with magic typically do their work by hand and save magic for things only magic can do. Played straight in One Good Knight where a group of virgin girls use volunteer unicorns to purify mushrooms so they can eat them.
  • Nature Adores a Virgin: Unicorns are attracted to virgin humans: stallions to virgin women and mares to virgin men. This can be embarrassing if your virginity (or your gender) is not something you want announced to the world.
  • Neutral Female: Openly defied in both One Good Knight and The Sleeping Beauty.
  • Noble Demon: Arachnia before her Heel Face Turn, Adamant and Periapt the Dragons (on first appearance -- they turn out to be straight-up heroes once people stop trying to slay them and actually listen to what they have to say).
  • No Man of Woman Born: The Tradition tends to leave loopholes like this, and a clever White Wizard or Fairy Godmother will look for them and exploit them.
    • In One Good Knight, the Evil Vizier quite literally cast a spell that said "no man" could cross the border of his kingdom to save Princess Andromeda or the other virgins being sacrificed to the dragon. Fairy Godmother Elena solves this problem by sending a female knight.
  • Obviously Evil: Arachnia, especially after her Heel Face Turn. She likes the appearance of evil more than she likes causing actual pain.
    • Godmothers make use of this when they need an "Evil" force to try the heroes but do not want to put anyone in real danger.
  • Off the Rails: The only way to guarantee the Tradition won't mess with you is to take a violent swerve off the normal path.
  • Our Dragons Are Different
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: Discussed in One Good Night, when Genre Savvy warrior Gina and naive princess Andie contemplate a bath in a stream. Gina is not amused by Andie's innocent questions about what could possibly go wrong.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Since the Tradition invests a great deal of magic in those it is trying to control, evil magic users benefit from attracting Questers and Abandoned Children in the Woods, and from kidnapping certain would-be protagonists so that they can continually drain off the power that the Tradition is shoving at them.
  • Prophetic Name: Can be useful or a burden, depending on the prophecy.
  • Pungeon Master: The Tradition itself. It loves puns.
  • The Quest
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Elena in The Fairy Godmother. Most characters who really understand the Tradition come to resent how it interferes with the lives of others.
  • Reality Ensues: Over and over. These tropes are playing out in people's lives, after all.
  • Rescue Romance: Traditionally mandatory... which can be awkward if the two characters don't want to fall in love, and really inconvenient if either party is already intended to end up with someone else.
  • Save the Princess
  • Screw Destiny: The Tradition will irresistibly force a path on characters and cannot be blocked. The only escape is to change circumstances until they no longer fit the fairy tale.
  • Secret Test of Character
  • Shout-Out: In The Fairy Godmother, when the main character is at the hiring fair, Mort is the last person waiting, even after she leaves. His name isn't mentioned, but Mercedes Lackey is a fan of Terry Pratchett and has confirmed outside the book that yes, that was Mort.
  • Spare to the Throne: Some princes.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Dragon's blood can be used to give somebody this ability, diluted dragon's blood gives the ability temporarily while the pure stuff makes it permanent.
  • Standard Hero Reward: The father of one character was a kingdom-saving hero who was offered the 6-year-old princess. He married one of her bodyguards instead.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Not only a good way to exploit loopholes but a source of mild comic embarrassment when it requires saving the fair maiden, who will Traditionally fall in love with her rescuer unless drastic measures are taken.
    • One of the Princes in The Sleeping Beauty is in fact a Princess.
  • Talking Animal
  • 24-Hour Armor: Worn by Sir George in One Good Knight. Justified several ways, including the fact that it is enchanted with spells that make it comfortable to wear.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Provided you can set up the "Ragtag Bunch of Misfits restore the lost heir to the throne" story and not "heroic castle defenders repel the murderous peasant uprising."
  • The Unfavorite: Invoked in Fortune's Fool by the king of Led-Belarus. He had studied The Tradition enough to know what benefits the disdained seventh son of a king would bring; so while in private Sasha was the treasured young trickster and luck maker, insofar as the court and boyars knew....
  • Ur Example --> Trope Maker --> Trope Codifier: The trope-making sequence exists in universe. The discussion of "Robbin' John's Army" in One Good Knight is the clearest description of one person's heroics becoming a well-worn Traditional path as others imitate him.
  • Virgin Power
  • Virgin Sacrifice: In One Good Knight to mollify a rampaging dragon.
    • Eventually subverted; one of the women the dragon carries off was notably promiscuous and the beginning of Princess Andromeda's realization that the queen is now openly using the sacrifices to get rid of her enemies.
  • Virginity Flag: Again, unicorns.
  • The Verse: The Five Hundred Kingdoms.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Aleksia in The Snow Queen; Elena for much of The Fairy Godmother, Lily playing the role of Queen-Consort Sable in The Sleeping Beauty . Single women in power must beware of loneliness in case the Tradition sends them a Cad, a Rake, or some other betrayer who will take advantage of them.
    • Making sure that the elements aren't in place for the Tradition to do this plays an important part of The Fairy Godmother. The would-be Cad is turned into a Knight Protector, ensuring that the Tradition is now more interested in making sure that he lives up to that role rather than keep trying to shove him into the Cad role. This also ensures that Elena can have a successful relationship with him, which stymies the Tradition from sending any more Betrayers after her.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Played straight and averted. The Tradition can turn previously decent women bitter when they become stepmothers unless outside forces act to help.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Perhaps the worst fate to befall anyone in the Five Hundred Kingdoms.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The main dramatic tension of the series occurs when characters are stuck in a tale they don't want to be in.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Since that's how it generally turns out in stories, well...