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The Gratitude of Kings
Marion Zimmer Bradley
ROC Books, 106 pages

The Gratitude of Kings
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marion Zimmer Bradley has been writing for over 4 decades, but is best known for her Darkover science fantasy series and her Arthurian masterpiece, The Mists of Avalon. Her first published novels were romances, written to pay the bills and support her two children. She has also been editing anthologies for the past 14 years and publishes Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine.

SF Site review of Gravelight
Biographical information on MZB
MZB's books, including the Darkover series
An unofficial Darkover site
A very short official Darkover site
Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Margo MacDonald

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

Margo has always been drawn toward fantasy and, at the age of 5, decided to fill her life with it by pursuing a career as a professional actress. Aside from theatre (and her husband), Margo's passion has been for books. Her interests are diverse and eclectic, but the bulk fall within the realm of speculative fiction. She tells us that her backlog has reached 200 books and she's ready to win the lottery and retire.

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