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    Review of BY SLANDEROUS TONGUES by Mercedes Lackey (see her website) and Roberta Gellis (see her website)

    Baen, February 2007

    Henry VIII is dead and his young son, Edward, has taken the throne. But Edward is too young to rule himself and his Uncle seizes the opportunity to declare himself protector. What happens to Elizabeth, second in succession after her sister, Mary, isn't really a major concern to the protector. It is, though, to Elizabeth herself, and to the Seleighe and Unseleighe courts. If Elizabeth rules, the Seleighe foresee an era of light. If Mary rules and Elizabeth is removed from succession, terror and violence favor the Unseleighe. Both courts are determined to direct the future in their own direction.

    The greatest danger to Elizabeth is that her reputation be ruined or, even more seriously, that she marry without the permission of the King and his Council. Doing so would be treason--and would permanently bar Elizabeth from succession. The Unseleighe ruler sees a perfect tool--14-year-old Elizabeth is first realizing her sexual maturity and is attracted to the handsome younger brother of the Protector. Thomas Seymour first woos Henry VIII's Queen, but he's willing to keep his eye on the main chance. With Elizabeth as his wife, he might be able to rule England.

    To prevent Elizabeth from falling into Thomas's trap, Selieghe knight Denoriel decides the safest thing is to provide her with an alternate and better lover--himself.

    Meanwhile, Denoriel's half-brother and half-sister have switched sides. Their anger with the Unselieghe prince is so strong that they decide to do what they can to ruin his plans. And Elizabeth herself is no slouch in the magic department.

    Authors Mercedes Lackey (see more reviews of novels by Lackey) and Roberta Gellis (see more reviews of novels by Gellis) continue their alternate history story with an account of the fascinating years of Elizabeth's youth. With her father dead, Elizabeth lacks both his protection and the threat he represented to her. But virtually everyone sees Elizabeth as a tool to be used for their own purposes. And Elizabeth has a hard time not playing along.

    As with the earlier novels in this series, Lackey and Gellis do an excellent job portraying the political intrigue that embroiled England as the nation found itself in the midst of an unresolved religious conflict, and reigned over by a King who was too young to rule. Without the firm hand of Henry, civil war and violence seem almost assured.

    Certain allowances have to be made for Elvish knights, but still the idea that Denoriel can best help Elizabeth by becoming her lover--with her only 14, is a bit gaggy. And it seemed to me that there was a bit of repetition, pages where nothing was happening and we were re-learning what we already knew. More forceful editing could have helped.

    With Oberon declaring Elizabeth under his protection, and with the powerful Denoriel being joined by his powerful brother, BY SLANDEROUS TONGUES doesn't have quite the suspense of the earlier novels in this series. Still, it's an interesting way to learn history and Lackey and Gellis have done their research and seem to accurately depict what went on (at least in the human side).

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 5/21/05

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