Briarheart by Mercedes Lackey: review






Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & Music, a small recording company specializing in science fiction folk music.


"I'm a storyteller; that's what I see as 'my job'. My stories come out of my characters; how those characters would react to the given situation. Maybe that's why I get letters from readers as young as thirteen and as old as sixty-odd. One of the reasons I write song lyrics is because I see songs as a kind of 'story pill' -- they reduce a story to the barest essentials or encapsulate a particular crucial moment in time. I frequently will write a lyric when I am attempting to get to the heart of a crucial scene; I find that when I have done so, the scene has become absolutely clear in my mind, and I can write exactly what I wanted to say. Another reason is because of the kind of novels I am writing: that is, fantasy, set in an other-world semi-medieval atmosphere. Music is very important to medieval peoples; bards are the chief newsbringers. When I write the 'folk music' of these peoples, I am enriching my whole world, whether I actually use the song in the text or not.


"I began writing out of boredom; I continue out of addiction. I can't 'not' write, and as a result I have no social life! I began writing fantasy because I love it, but I try to construct my fantasy worlds with all the care of a 'high-tech' science fiction writer. I apply the principle of TANSTAAFL ['There ain't no such thing as free lunch', credited to Robert Heinlein) to magic, for instance; in my worlds, magic is paid for, and the cost to the magician is frequently a high one. I try to keep my world as solid and real as possible; people deal with stubborn pumps, bugs in the porridge, and love-lives that refuse to become untangled, right along with invading armies and evil magicians. And I try to make all of my characters, even the 'evil magicians,' something more than flat stereotypes. Even evil magicians get up in the night and look for cookies, sometimes.


"I suppose that in everything I write I try to expound the creed I gave my character Diana Tregarde in Burning Water:


"There's no such thing as 'one, true way'; the only answers worth having are the ones you find for yourself; leave the world better than you found it. Love, freedom, and the chance to do some good -- they're the things worth living and dying for, and if you aren't willing to die for the things worth living for, you might as well turn in your membership in the human race."


Also writes as Misty Lackey


Author's website






From beloved fantasy author Mercedes Lackey comes a fresh and feminist reinterpretation of Sleeping Beauty.


Miriam may be the daughter of Queen Alethia of Tirendell, but she's not a princess. She's the child of Alethia and her previous husband, the King's Champion, who died fighting for the king, and she has no ambitions to rule. When her new baby sister Aurora, heir to the throne, is born, she's ecstatic. She adores the baby, who seems perfect in every way. But on the day of Aurora's christening, an uninvited Dark Fae arrives, prepared to curse her, and Miriam discovers she possesses impossible power.


Soon, Miriam is charged with being trained in both magic and combat to act as chief protector to her sister. But shadowy threats are moving closer and closer to their kingdom, and Miriam's dark power may not be enough to save everyone she loves, let alone herself.




This was my first book by Mercedes Lackey (I know it's insane) and I'm not sure it was the right book to introduce me to her writing. I believe that if it was classified as a middle-grade novel, it would have made more sense as the writing is for younger readers.

That being said, I did enjoy the story. The world-building was fun and easy to understand, but I believe the overall issue (other than the writing style) was the pacing. I liked seeing Miri grow into herself, but the story lacked the excitement I'd expect from a fairy-tale retelling. But if you're looking for a slower-paced tale, you may enjoy it.


I liked the family dynamics and the sisterly relationship. In a world of YA where too many families become enemies, this was a breath of fresh air. Miri's step-dad is simply amazing. Not often do we get a caring step-parent in books. I also adored Lobo, the talking wolf.


I couldn't connect to the characters. There wasn't a distinguishable voice to any of them. This made it hard to care what happens to them. I think if we took away the names, everyone would all sound exactly the same without telling them apart.

In closing, I think middle-school readers will enjoy this more than a young adult or adult reader. With the right audience, this book will really take off.


My rating: ⭐⭐⭐


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