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The Gratitute of Kings

The Gratitute of KingsAuthor: Marion Zimmer Bradley

A new Lythande story:

When the magician Lythande accepted the invitation to Lord Tashgan's wedding, it was not without reservations. After all, a woman masquerading as a man-even for the sake of her magic-couldn't be too careful; unfortunate things sometimes happened in the company of kings.

Jacket art by Pat Morrissey. Border art and 4 black-and-white interios illustrations by Keith Minnion.

For more stories about Lythande, I have heard that MZB wrote several Lythande stories for her Fantasy Magazine. I have not been able to find out which issues though.

A review by Margo MacDonald (The SF Site Featured Review)

This charming little volume offers up a story of magic and salamanders. It is a fairy tale without the strong moral meaning but with all the other necessary elements -- a royal wedding, a beautiful princess, magicians, an old woman with ill intentions, magical creatures and secrets.

Lythande, a lute-playing magician, is invited to the long-overdue wedding of an old friend, Prince Tashgan. But Lythande discovers more than just a few things amiss at the happy affair -- including the scent of hidden magics about the mysterious Queen-to-be, Princess Velvet, and traces of a powerful shape-shifter in the royal court. As the wedding day rapidly approaches, the magician begins a delicate and dangerous investigation -- one made all the more difficult by Lythande's own precious secret: to protect the source of her magical abilities, she has spent centuries masquerading as a man.

The tale is deftly told, though somewhat stilted in a few places. It reads as if it is but one story out of the life and adventures of the magician Lythande, the main character. Tidbits of details without complete explanations give the characters a bit more depth and indicate a past history which makes this short work feel like a chapter out of a much longer work. Yet the story also somehow feels complete.

The main characters are engaging (though I had to keep from rolling my eyes at the Princess Velvet's name). The plot, though by nature somewhat predictable, maintains the reader's interest by its sense of humour and through the use of clever details, like the salamanders madly rushing about scaring people.

Overall, it was a quick and enjoyable journey. I wouldn't be at all surprised or disappointed to see these characters reappear soon as part of a full-length work.
Copyright © 1998 by Margo MacDonald

Another review:

In a year very long ago, a mysterious, lute-playing magician named Lythande is summoned to the wedding of an old friend, Prince Tashgan, at the castle of Tschardain. To the world, Lythande appears to be a powerful young wizard. In truth, she is a centuries-old magician masquerading as a man in order to hold on to her special powers. If anyone were to discover her true identity, all would be lost.

Yet from the moment she sees the handsome prince again -- and meets Princess Velvet of Valentia, his promised bride -- Lythande knows something is terribly wrong. And when Tashgan asks Lythande to be his champion at the marriage games, a warning of danger sounds deep in her soul. Soon Lythande is entangled in the intrigues of court, where shape-shifting creatures and black treachery challenge her own special powers.

Another blurb:

When the magician Lythande accepted the invitation to Lord Tashgan's wedding, it was not without reservations. After all, a woman masquerading as a man - even for the sake of her magic - couldn't be too careful; unfortunate things happened in the company of kings.

Tashgan himself was a benevolent lord, and his fiance, Lady Velvet, seemed shy and kind. But Lythande had a prickly sense that something wasn't right. A sense that grew stronget when Mirwen, Velvet's lady-in-waiting - a spell-caster with an unreasonable hatred of male magicians - took an instant dislike to the likable Lythande. But when she and her friend, Eirthe Candlemaker, a worker of modest magic herself, discovered that Velvet had been bespelled to make her more beautiful, they knew Mirwen was definately up to something.

What that something was they would not find out at the Marriage Games, a contest of two champions who vie to create the most fantastic and beautiful illusions.

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The Gratitute of Kings


Last Revised: April 2000.