A Tangled Web (Five Hundred Kingdoms)
by Mercedes Lackey
(fantasy, myth retelling)
I mentioned a short while ago that the Five Hundred Kingdoms series was a guilty pleasure read of mine. Well, this novella definitely applies. There’s really no reason for the guilt, except that reading this series is like eating cookies instead of dinner. It’s sweet and fluff and really only serves the purpose of making me feel good. Just like with cookies, feeling slightly guilty about consuming them won’t stop me from doing it, but I won’t always advertise just how many of them I’ve gobbled up.
This particular story is a retelling of the Greek myth surrounding Persephone and Hades. I found it amusing to see which of the names (usually place names) had been tweaked from their originals, and which remained the same. In telling this story, Lackey did reuse characters from one of the novels in the series (THE SLEEPING BEAUTY, I believe) but you don’t need to have read that one in order to understand or appreciate this one. In fact, you don’t have to be at all familiar with the world in order to get into this novella.
I do like how this story stuck pretty true to the original myth, and how certain tests and trials were used for the heroes even though there wasn’t really a villain. Not that there wasn’t conflict, there certainly was that. But it was a case of misunderstandings and good guys trying to get what they want without breaking laws or starting wars instead of a bad guy out to get the good guys. It was a nice change.
If you like this series, this is a good addition to it. If you like new tweaks on classic myths, this might be a good story for you, too. It’s not for everyone, though, and if you’re looking for a whole lot of depth, this is not for you. This is a fun story, but it is light-hearted and enjoyable. If you’re looking for a cookie-read, this is good. If you’re looking for something more meaty, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.