The fifth book in the fantasy romance series set in the Five Hundred Kingdoms.

Publication year: 2010
Format: Audio
Running time: 11 and 5 minutes
Narrators: Gabra Zackman

Princess Rosamund has just turned 16 and is the sole heir for her father the king of Eltaria. She also knows about the Tradition, which is the power of the fairy tales who steer people into the most, well, traditional paths. Her mother has died recently and she knows that according to Tradition, her father will now marry an evil woman who will hunt down Rosa. So, she runs away. But she’s chased by a murderous huntsman and her fragile plans to out the window. She manages to evade the huntsman but foolhardily promises to seven dwarves to do anything they want in exchange for a place to stay. But these dwarves are mean and evil: they keep Rosa as a slave and expect her to cook, clean, mend, and do everything else too, in exchange for a bit of food and a sleeping place in the kitchen. She’s close to desperation because they’ve chained her to the little, dirty cottage.

She also doesn’t know that the local fairy godmother Lilly already had a plan. She and the king realized the path that the Tradition was likely to take. So, they decide to side-step the Tradition’s demands: Lilly will impersonate an evil sorceress and wed the king. They hastily do that because war is near and the king is forced to go out and defend the kingdom. However, they haven’t told anything about this to Rosa. Lilly manages to find her with her magic mirror and devises a plan to get Rosa away from the dwarves. That plan involves making Rosa appear dead magically and then revive her magically.

However, unbeknownst to Lily or Rosa two princes are nearby. One of them is Siegfried, a Northern prince and a demi-god who grew up with his extended family of gods, goddesses and demi-deities. He’s a sell-sword hero trying to escape his doom: a maiden sleeping in the middle of flames who needs to be kissed awake. That maiden may also be his half-aunt or something… The other is prince Leopold who is more of a roughish prince who laughs and jokes often. He also gambles a lot.

This book mixes up Snow White with a little bit of Sleeping Beauty and a big dose of the Ring of the Nibelung. The beginning was more fun, though, the string of contests for the princes, which takes up most of the book, were fun, too, and riff on the traditional contests in fairy tales, of course.

Like all the other princesses in this series, Rose is quite level-headed. Her mother was a shepherdess and she taught her daughter a lot of useful skills. Lilly has been a godmother for 300 years so she’s also very capable. She has a close friendship with her loyal mirror servant Jimson. Siegfried was also great fun and so was Leopold and their friendship. Not the best of the series for me but quite enjoyable. I’d also love to see the further adventures of the main couple.

I’ve really enjoyed Gabra Zackman’s unhurried narration in this series and this book was no exception.

The next, and the last, book is Beauty and the Werewolf. I might track down the Snow Queen at some point, which is not available through Audible.

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