source for free and affordable eBooks


Powered by FreeFind

Site search
Web search

    Review of THIS SCEPTER'D ISLE by Mercedes Lackey and Roberta Gellis

    Baen, February 2004

    Seers in both Selieghe and Unselieghe courts see two visions of the future. In one, Queen Mary rules England, enforces the grim rule of the Church and the Inquisition, and destroys the Elf-court of Avalon. In the other, a red-headed child grows to create a new England--one that practices tolerance and that creates a flowering of literature, art and science. For both, the choice of the future is critical. The Selieghe would be destroyed by the inquisition as surely as the elf-courts of Spain had been. The Unselieghe will gain power from the suffering.

    Open battle between the two courts is impossible and too-overt manipulation in the affairs of mortal men has its own danger, but this doesn't prevent them from sending their agents into Henry VIII's England. The Selieghe see the bastard son of Henry as a key to the child of prophesy and send Demoriel, one of their warriors, to protect him. The Unselieghe send Demoriel's half-brother to thwart him. The result is a battle that unfolds over a decade as King Henry seeks a legitimate son, a child who can secure the English throne and prevent it from becoming a tool of the Spanish or French. Because a ruling Queen must marry, and whomever she marries would soon control England.

    Authors Mercedes Lackey (see more reviews of novels by Lackey) and Roberta Gellis (see reviews of mysteries by Gellis) combine to create an intriguing alternate history set in England at the dawn of the modern age. Elves and men conspire and plot to chose the next Queen of England, to strengthen or weaken the bonds of Church over State, and to gain control of the future in a pivotal moment in history. Lackey and Gellis add amusing jaunts through the 'underhill,' letting the reader savor the joys of magic.

    There's a lot to like about a story that brings history to life, adds a bit of magic, and is written by two such accomplished authors. (Baen makes the offer even more intriguing by including a CD-ROM (in the hardback version, at least) with the full text to at least 40 other Baen novels). Still, I found myself feeling somewhat cheated at the end. After all, Mary did become Queen and did her best to bring back the Catholic church with all of its late-medieval cruelty and oppression. Elizabeth was protected and did become the Queen that maintained England's independence, allowed writers including Shakespear to flourish, and began the global trading empire that grew into the largest and most powerful nation in the world--but was Harry FitzRoy really that critical?

    THIS SCEPTER'D ISLE is an enjoyable read. I certainly recommend it to anyone interested in Henry VIII and his many wives--and to those who track the doings of the elf-courts. Still, am I the only one who thinks authors with the talent of Lackey and Gellis couldn't have done a bit more?

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 3/19/04

    Ready to buy it? Click the button:

    Want to learn more?
    Click this link and see more reviews, similar books, and other Amazon information on THIS SCEPTER'D ISLE from

    Rather buy it from Barnes and Noble?
    Click this link for THIS SCEPTER'D ISLE from Barnes and

    Best deal--read the eBook for FREE (Baen Free Library)

    Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.

    Have a web site? Check out these free services. Banner Exchange