ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT
Mercedes Lackey & Roberta Gellis

 


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Second in The Doubled Edge Series
Baen, Mar 2005
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood
 
Historical Fantasy 

Nine year old Lady Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry VIII, is surrounded by enough mortal dangers without adding those from the Elven world to them. The hostile neglect of her father is based on his hatred and guilty conscience toward her dead mother. Catholics don’t want to be ruled by the child who indirectly caused the separation of England from the Pope. There are political pitfalls in the warm relationships she had with her disgraced stepmothers. Any of these perils could be deadly, and even at her age Elizabeth knows it.

The Farseers of the Elven kingdom of Underhill see three possible futures. Two show misery, ruled over by Elizabeth’s brother and sister. The one with Elizabeth as queen shows a future of art and joyous exploration. This is much to be desired by the Bright Court of Selieghe, but it would deprive the Dark Court of Unselieghe of the anguish its denizens feed on. The rulers of the Bright Court send Denoriel and his sister Aleneil to protect Elizabeth from the Dark Sidhe.

Elizabeth is nothing like the sweet, loving Harry whom Denorial was protecting in THIS SCEPTER’D ISLE. She is self willed, prone to bad temper, and above all, has learned to trust no one. But with a few charming words, she can wrap an adult around her little finger, and Denoriel is no exception. Soon he would defend her to the death, no matter what the Farseers predict, and he might have to. The Dark twins Pasgen and Rhoslyn are once again working to undermine her.

Pasgen has been ruling Unselieghe during the recovery of Dark Prince Vidal Dhu and his lady Aurelia. Vidal was badly injured during a piece of evil chicanery involving Elizabeth. Slowly regaining his powers, Vidal Dhu is not only working to produce as much general misery as possible, he is also determined on vengeance against Elizabeth and her protectors. Pasgen is reluctant to anger his sister Rhoslyn by hurting a child, but he must either obey Vidal Dhu’s demands to kill or capture Elizabeth, or fight him for the rulership of Unselieghe.

The vibrant personality of Elizabeth dominates ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT. Even as a child, aged nine through thirteen, she is a lioness destined to rule. Her charm and perceptive intellect are backed up by a strong magical Talent. Without the help of her Selieghe friends, Elizabeth would have been at the mercy of enemies able to twist her Talent to their own uses. Elizabeth’s training and increased understanding bind her love to the people of Underhill, and they return it.

Most often we see Elizabeth dealing with her hazards through the loving, sympathetic eyes of Denoriel, but there are other participants affecting her from behind the scenes. We become better acquainted with Pasgen and Rhoslyn, prominent characters carried over from THIS SCEPTER’D ISLE. We watch in suspense the working out of various plots and strategies from the viewpoints of the plotters. The authors keep us at a perfectly balanced pitch of intensity by moving from focus to focus to sustain the level of enjoyable thrills.

Again in ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT, co-authors Mercedes Lackey and Roberta Gellis have given us an irresistibly readable historical fantasy. Rich writing enhances the adventure and winds it through with warm affection. Events flow smooth and fast, and even though lovers of Tudor history know what Elizabeth’s future holds, there are plenty of surprises to be had. The possibilities of blending this group of fantasy friends with recorded history are intriguing indeed. From hints given at the end of ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT, I wait eagerly to see what develops in the next book, BY SLANDEROUS TONGUES.

April 2005 Review
Revised Review Jan 2006

 

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