I talked about how I first heard of Jim C. Hines in my review for Goblin Quest, so I don’t need to go over that again. So I’ll take this a slightly different direction. By the time that I decided I wanted to read some of Jim’s books, he had two series completed. The first one was the Goblin series, and the second was the Princess series. Well, if you’re a guy who’s going to pick up one of Jim’s books, I’d bet that 99 times out of 100 you’ll go for the Goblin series, which of course I did. After reading the Goblin series, I decided it was time to start reading his Princess series, and right now I’m kind of mad at myself because I only bought the first book instead of the entire series.
First book in the series
The main character in this book is Danielle Whiteshore, better known to most people as Cinderella. The book starts a couple months after the end of the fairy tale as we know it, with Danielle happily married to Prince Armand and getting accustomed to life as a princess rather than as a servant to her step-mother and step-sisters. The other two characters are Snow White and Talia (better known as Sleeping Beauty). All three of the characters have varied skills (magical and otherwise) and have deep backstories based largely upon their respective fairy tales. But while the characters are based upon the classical stories, they’re their own people and have their own challenges as they go through the story. The characters are interesting on their own, but the twist that Hines puts on their backstories makes them especially deep and interesting characters.
The book takes place on the island nation of Lorindar, and goes a little further into the fairy realm as the story continues. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before in Fantasy books, but it’s very well done.
Danielle is still adjusting to her life when she is attacked by her step-sister Charlotte, who has somehow learned new magic that she uses to try and kill Danielle. Of course this starts Danielle on a quest to overcome her stepsisters and help to rescue Armand.
I loved this book. Just like with the goblin books, Hines does a fantastic job of taking all of the stories that we’re familiar with and knocking them all off to the side. Everything in this book is recognizable if you’re familiar with the stories (whether the more commonly known Disney versions or the older versions from Grimm’s Fairy Tales) but taken a step further. For example, Talia (Sleeping Beauty) was blessed by the fairies and given supernatural grace, which she promptly uses to become a master of martial arts. Snow White is a master of mirror-based magic, and Hines take on the seven dwarves might be one of the best things I’ve ever seen in a book (it’s also in the last 50 pages or so, so I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t read the book).
Although a large part of the book rides upon your preconceived notions of the stories that the characters are based upon, there is a solid quest story underneath everything. Much like I’ve said with all of Christopher Moore’s books, it’s easy to dismiss these books as simply poking fun at the source material, but if you do that you’re going to miss out on a great story. I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.
A wonderful take on the characters and stories that you thought you knew, and a fantastic story to go with it.