BY SLANDEROUS TONGUES
Mercedes Lackey & Roberta Gellis

 


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Book Three of The Doubled Edge Series
Baen Books, Feb 2007
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Historical Fantasy, Sixteenth Century

In this sequel to ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT, we return to an uneasy England. The only certainty is that Henry VIII is dead and England has a boy king. Young Edward's governing council is jockeying internally as it decides which man among them will be the true ruler. On the whole, it looks like Lord Wriothesley, puppet of the Prince of the Dark Elves, Vidal Dhu, is losing. Vidal Dhu will have to choose another strategy to create war and misery in England.

Elizabeth, hope of the Bright Elves, is one of the incidental casualties of Henry's death. Her father has been her anchor in the mortal world. Who will control her now? As second in line to the throne, she is a prize if she is captured by an ambitious and unscrupulous man. The offer of a home with her stepmother Queen Catherine seems like a haven. Instead, it puts her right in the path of one of those ambitious, unscrupulous men. If only he weren't so attractive.

The Elven King Oberon has assigned Bright Elves Denoriel and his twin sister Aleniel to protect Elizabeth. In the years of doing his duty, Denoriel has come to love Elizabeth above all else. If Vidal Dhu has a hope of arranging Elizabeth's disgrace, he will have to get rid of Denoriel and Aleniel first. He can no longer trust their half brother and sister Pasgen and Rhoslyn to do his bidding in this, because the two pairs of twins are getting to know each other. This time the Dark Elves’ assassins will be mortals – hired experts.

Just as fast-paced and delightful as the earlier books of the series, BY SLANDEROUS TONGUES continues the story of the Elves of Underhill and their attempts to influence the Tudor succession. Characters are growing up. Elizabeth has matured into an imperious and irresistibly charming teen. Pasgen and Rhoslyn, twins raised as Dark Elves, are reconsidering their places in the elven kingdom. Another developing magical force, not yet understood, has already played a crucial part in the battle over Elizabeth and will do so again. We feel such a sympathetic interest in all of them that it is hard to put the book down.

Co-author Roberta Gellis is a historian who respects the true stories provided by history. The Doubled Edge series does not change what we know about this well-documented period of time. The real characters we are acquainted with would probably behave exactly this way if they had magical plots going on around them. Wrapped in the decades of writing skill of authors Mercedes Lackey and Roberta Gellis, Elizabeth and her friends live even more enthrallingly than they did in their original lives. They take hold of us and never let go.

BY SLANDEROUS TONGUES is my favorite of the books I have read so far this year. Don't miss the series: THIS SCEPTER'D ISLE, ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT, BY SLANDEROUS TONGUES. Now being written is AND LESS THAN KIND, about Elizabeth's survival during the reign of her sister Mary. It is planned to be the finale. A suggestion in the authors' ears: You could continue these books into the years of Elizabeth's reign…

June 2007

 

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