Review: Fortune’s Fool, A Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms (Book 3)

By: Mercedes Lackey

Available on: Amazon, Audible, and Barnes and Noble.

Overview:

Blurb: This is the third book in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series; while it can be read as a stand-alone, it does make more sense if you have read The Fairy Godmother with certain characters that make an appearance. Katya, a daughter of the Sea King, is a spy for her father. She is sent ashore and meets a kitsune who she aids in defeating a demon. While on another mission, Katya meets the Seventh Son of the King of Led Belarus, another kingdom of the Five Hundred Kingdoms.

However, this kingdom has no Fairy Godmother, just the magic of Sasha, the Fortunate Fool and Seventh Son. Katya and Sasha fall in love, quite quickly, and end up separated when Katya is kidnapped by an evil Jinn. Katya and Sasha have separate adventures, including run-ins with Baba Yaga herself and the Queen of the Copper Mountain, as they strive to get back to one another.

Katya isn’t the only one that has been kidnapped. Because of The Tradition forcing his hand, the Jinn has been taking women of magical abilities away and keeping them to drain of their powers. One of the Swan Sisters has been stolen away by the Jinn, another captive is an actual ghost who is earth-bound. A snow maiden and shapeshifter have also been taken.

As ever with a Five Hundred Kingdoms, they also help many others along the way. All in all, a nice, happily ever after sort of story, with magical beings and multiple folk tale characters abounding.

Trigger Warnings:

Bastardization of Mythology, Blood, Bullying, Death, Disabled Character (sort of), Food, Murder, Off Screen Sex, Poor Coping Mechanisms, Purple Prose, Sex, Toxic Masculinity (mentioned in passing), Unsafe Sex, Violence, Violent Imagery, War

Body Count: 2, technically? Does it count if they’re already dead?

Overall review:

  • Thoughts:
    • What I liked: Katya and Sasha had their own arch separately even as their adventures and affections intertwined. Katya’s adventure after being taken by the Jinn were interesting. I really liked the incorporation of Baba Yaga and the Queen of the Stone Mountain.
    • What I didn’t like: I didn’t like that Sasha pretended to be a deaf-mute, but no actual disabled characters were mentioned in the story. Also, the absolute “happily ever after” that everyone found in the end was a bit saccharine. There was major conflict, but everything got resolved so…neatly. I wish there was a little more depth to it.
  • Was it engaging?
    • Yes
  • Favorite Character:
    • Sergi, the Humpbacked Horse
  • Least Favorite Character:
    • the Jinn

Rating out of five: 3.0 out of 5

To Read or Not To Read (Again):

Not to Read: Happily Donated for Someone Else to Read

The Technical Specs:

  • Series
    • Series Name: The Five Hundred Kingdoms
    • Book Number: 3 of 7
  • Genre
    • Technical Genre: Gothic Romances, Mythology & Folk Tales, Fairy Tale Fantasy
    • Theo Genre: Faerie Tales, High Fantasy, Romance with Plot, Magical Realism
  • Page count: 400 pages
  • POV: Limited 3rd
  • Publication information:
    • Publisher: Harlequin
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-13: 9781459296664
    • ASIN: B01BSEZN3U

Representation, Morality, and Sexism in Media Tests:

  • Bechdel–Wallace Test: Pass
    • Do two female characters talk about something other than a male character?
  • Deggan’s Rule Test: Pass
    • Are there at least two non-white human characters in the main cast in a story not primarily focused on race?
  • DuVernay Test: Pass
    • Are there fully actualized characters of color?
  • Ellen Willis Test: Pass
    • Would two related characters still work to carry the story if their genders were reversed?
  • Hays Code: Pass
    • Part One: outdated moral guidelines: Pass
      • Are there any outdated “moral content” rules gloriously kicked in the teeth by this story? Murder, happy queer characters, profanity, etc.
    • Part Two: queer representation: Pass
      • Are there queer characters that get a happy ending?
      • Do the queer characters die?
    • Part Three: age and agency: Pass
      • Is there an illegal or otherwise distasteful age gap between characters, queer or otherwise?
  • Mako Mori Test: Pass
    • Is there a female character that gets her own arc?
  • Mary Sue/Gary Stu Test: Pass
    • Is the main character completely flawless and persecuted by other characters needlessly?
    • Take a Mary Sue test here!
  • Sexy Lamp Test: Pass
    • Would the plot fall apart if the female character was replaced by a sexy looking lamp?
    • Post-It Note Caveat:
      • Would the character be able to be replaced by a Sexy Lamp with a sticky note on it for information conveyance?
  • Tauriel Test: Pass
    • Is there at least one woman in the story who is competent in her chosen occupation and not immediately shown up by a newcomer male character?
    • If she has or develops a love interest during the story, either implied or explicitly stated, does she suddenly abandon her job and/or chosen path to support or pursue said love interest?
  • Topside Test: Fail
    • Are there two or more trans characters in the story that know each other and do they talk about anything other than medical transition procedures?
      • I acknowledge that most common media lacks decent trans representation.
  • Vito Russo Test: Half Pass, as it is never stated the character is gay
    • Is there a character on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum who is a character beyond their orientation and do they actually affect the plot and are something beyond a punchline?
      • What does that stand for? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual/Biromantic/Bigender, Transgender, Queer/Genderqueer, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic/Agender, Pansexual/Panromantic

You can read more about the various Media Tests I employ in my reviews at GeekFeminism.wikia.org or by clicking the header on the individual test. Why include all these? Because I can, because representation matters, and because I’m neurotic.

Review format updated 14 April 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s