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Literature: Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms
A series of fantasy books, mostly light romance, by Mercedes Lackey. In the realm known as the "Five Hundred Kingdoms," a force known as "The Tradition" tries to force people to live out "Traditional" stories from fairy tales, fables, and even bawdy bar songs.

The books center on the Fairy Godmothers. These women have huge amounts of magical power as a result of The Tradition trying to force them into a role that either circumstances or their own personalities made impossible. They use their Genre Savvy and experience to try and minimize the harm The Tradition can cause. For example, they might send a woman to rescue a heterosexual princess in order to avert the tragedy of a married woman falling in love with another man just because he happens to be her rescuer.

Good Wizards, Sorcerers, and Sorceresses usually take over when, despite a Godmother's efforts, Evil wins, and the stories also feature Champions who are Traditionally the ones to do the physical heroics, go on epic quests, and wield enchanted blades.

The books provide a relentless and quite entertaining send up of most of the standard Fairy Tale Tropes, both as they play out straight and as the active figures try to avert or subvert them.

The books in the series are

  • The Fairy Godmother (2004)
  • One Good Knight (2006)
  • Fortune's Fool (2007)
  • The Snow Queen (2008)
  • The Sleeping Beauty (2010)
  • Beauty and the Werewolf (2011)

There is also a story in the anthology Harvest Moon which is a sequel of sorts to The Sleeping Beauty.

This series contains examples of:

  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Generally played straight, occasionally subverted for comic effect. For example, when Sir George introduces himself as a "virgin knight," Andromeda snickered — but George was not only a virgin, 'he' was "Georgina".
    • The first Champion sent to Acadia by Glass Mountain was Liam, a genuine virgin knight, verified by unicorns but he was unable to get through due to the no man barrier in the border.
    • In Fortune's Fool, Prince Sasha also is unicorn bait. Until Katya shows up that is. Cue mournful weeping unicorn.
    • Also averted with Klava's master in Fortune's Fool, who satisfied the release conditions of a Jinn, who would remain bound until released "by the hand of a virgin of five and fifty years". Klava was most amused to find this out. And finally solved the mystery on how he had such a steady supply of unicorn hair.
    • Also averted with Prince Siegfried in The Sleeping Beauty. He is revealed to be unicorn bait, much to the hilarity of his friend Prince Leopold, who plays it straight himself.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: The Tyrant that Godmother Aleksia checks up on goes to his Alchemist daily for a concoction of thirty common poisons, which gives him an immunity to all but the truly exotic poisons (and the reason why he doesn't need to employ a taster). For the exotic ones (which are slow-acting), the alchemist has the antidotes handy.
  • Almighty Idiot: The Tradition, which forces tropes to be enacted regardless of the harm it does.
  • Ancient Grome: Acadia.
  • An Ice Person: The Snow Queen. Both of them.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Mostly averted, intelligent animals are typically explicitly magical, ordinary animals are generally no brighter then you'd expect, except cats, though this may be because Cats Are Magic (and Author Appeal).
  • Apothecary Alligator: In One Good Knight, a character comments that The Tradition requires Acadian Sophonts to have a stuffed crocodile hanging from the rafters. If they don't have one, it supplies one. Whether they want it or not.
  • Artifact Title: In-universe example. Fairy Godmothers were formerly all True Fae, but now they are usually just humans approved by the Fair Folk. They are still called 'Fairy' as an honorific: the Rose Fairy, the Lilac Fairy, etc.
  • At the Crossroads: We get to see both sides — the one being tested and the one doing the testing.
  • Badass Adorable
    • Unicorns in a fighting mood. So dumb, so pretty, so pointy.
    • Also Katya, tiny, white-blonde, cute as a button, and the King's secret agent and spymaster.
  • Background Magic Field: The Tradition. Unusual for this trope, it makes both heroes and villains, since every story needs an antagonist.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The white doe that Sasha and Katya encounter.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Genre Savvy characters make it a point to never wish out loud for anything. It invites The Tradition to cause mischief galore. Kay especially got his wish.
    • The Snow Queen's major job is essentially to be this personified, especially for self-centered little tossers like Kay who are convinced that all they want is time to work and be left alone.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The Tradition in a nutshell
  • Betty and Veronica: The Sleeping Beauty has Rosamund's two main suitors, the honest and chaste Siegfried as Betty, and the roguishly charming and flirtatious Leopold as the Veronica.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Champions, Good Sorcerers/Sorceresses, and Heroes have this as a job description: they show up when things are dire and save the day. The Queen of Copper Mountain also pulls one in the climax of Fortune's Fool.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Queen Cassiopeia full stop. She looks like the The High Queen but in actuality is a classic God Save Us from the Queen!. In The Sleeping Beauty, Prince Desmond is one too. He is secretly an evil Sorcerer that kickstarted everything in the book by sending the Huntsman against Princess Rosamund.
  • Blessed with Suck: Many people whose lives The Tradition is attempting to steer, especially when their Happy Ending can't occur for one reason or another. The Fair Rosalinda and Ladderlocks girls get it particularly bad. It makes one wonder about other fairytales that don't end well.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Princess Andromeda.
  • Blondes are Evil: Queen Cassiopeia and at least one Evil Sorceress.
  • Blood Brothers: A way to invoke certain Traditional paths. Andie does it with Sir George in One Good Knight to fend off the Rescue Romance that The Tradition is pushing on them, claiming that The Tradition never allows Brother-Sister Incest except in cases where the siblings don't recognize each other.
  • Born Lucky: The title character of Fortune's Fool, for one.
  • Break the Haughty: Many, many arrogant, discourteous people have this done to them by Godmothers, Wizards and Sorceresses. Example: Prince Alexander of Kolhstania. Actually is a good thing for them, since The Tradition would ensure they have a very sorry end if they don't repent and redeem themselves. The good Magicians at least ensure that nothing truly horrible happens to people in need of redemption. Aleksia engages in this more than the average Godmother; Kay is only the latest in the line of those needing redeeming.
  • Break The Silly: Aleksia has to do this to Gerda, the love blind sweetheart of Kay, in order to open her eyes to the reality.
  • Brainless Beauty: As a rule, beautiful magical creatures will also be dumb as a post (to paraphrase: "Intelligence, beauty, magic — pick two"). Exhibit A: Unicorns.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Tends to happen in Traditional paths where the siblings in question are unaware of the relation.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: After being woken up by Leopold and married to him, Brunnhilde does this to her father Wotan in the Royal Palace garden of Eltaria. With an audience consisting of her own husband, her nephew Siegfried, his queen Rosamund, their Firebird companion and her father's own two ravens and eight legged horse. The ravens snicker and the old man leaves with his tail between his legs.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic: Many, many things dealing with The Tradition are capitalized.
  • Cats Are Magic: Not to mention quick, stealthy, wise, secretive, and susceptible to flattery.
  • Chained to a Rock: A whole line of maidens in One Good Knight, including the princess.
  • Cinderella Circumstances: Elena at the beginning of The Fairy Godmother and countless other girls in many other kingdoms.
  • Clingy Macguffin: If it's Traditional for someone in your role to have something, you'll have it — whether you want it or not. Acadian Sophonts, for example, always have a stuffed crocodile in their offices, so The Tradition will supply one. No matter how often one throws out or destroys the thing, it will always come back.
  • Curse Escape Clause: The Tradition doesn't like unbreakable curses, so it almost always finds a way to leave an 'out'. Generally, the more dire the curse, the more simple the escape.
  • Cool Horse: Several, especially the Sons of the East Wind.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The self defense Siegfried teaches Rosamund consist of this. Also Prince Sasha's fighting style when it comes down to it.
  • Costume Porn: At least once a book.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Andie in One Good Knight, bordering on Guile Heroine. She doesn't fight any dragons, but she does learn how to use a sling and pick locks in preparation for her Chained to a Rock moment.
  • Dances and Balls: Princess Rosamund and Queen Sable throw a few of them during the Engagement Challenge period. Elena also attends a Royal Christening.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Most successful Evil Wizards, Dark Sorceresses, etc. A notable example would be Solon in One Good Knight. Up until he invites a Demon Lord to possess him and makes the mistake of going after Andie. Her dragon pal Periapt promptly incinerates Solon in retaliation.
  • Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday: The Tradition has certain deadlines, like significant birthdays, before which it must act or else the story will go unfulfilled.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: While The Tradition encourages Evil Villains to take on certain motifs, Arachnia uses these same symbols while actually working for the Godmothers as a tester. And her troll of a stableman is actually a decent fellow. Even if he is a bit ignorant of the conditions that might cause a pampered Prince to sicken and die.
    • The formerly human Rusalka that Sasha meets is an example too, after a talk with him she promises not to drown young men but scare them into good behaviour and also warn and educate girls on how to recognize blackguards. The second time Sasha encounters her she has kept her promise. She even keeps guard on him while he sleeps and tells him he is a good man.
  • Dark Magical Girl: Arachnia and a few others.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Step-parents, particularly stepmothers, will become wicked due to The Tradition unless they are very careful to avert it.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Oh yes. Godmothers are well aware that Traditional stories, romantic or poignant as they may be, can be tragic when they actually play out. The girl in the tower with the long hair may win her Prince — but only after any number of young men are murdered to increase the power of the Evil Witch holding her captive, and presuming she doesn't go mad from the loneliness first.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Increasingly as the books go on. By The Sleeping Beauty, the beautiful princess is captured and enslaved by seven ugly, brutish dwarves; the Evil Stepmother is the Fairy Godmother in disguise; the poisoned apple is a scheme for Faking the Dead; the prince who wakes her with a kiss has both hands in places they really shouldn't be... and that's the beginning of the story.
  • Defiant Captive: Princess Kylia in The Fairy Godmother left a trail of damage to her chamber when captured by the Koschei, which impresses Godmother Elena.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: The Snow Queen. Again, both of them, though one features a slightly more literal example.
  • Designated Villain: In-Universe, Queen Sable in The Sleeping Beauty runs the kingdom competently and never harms the Rightful Heir, but because she looks Obviously Evil, was the king's second wife, and isn't Nice to the Waiter like her predecessor, most people think she's the villain that Princess Rosamund must depose.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: This is the official duty of Katya's very beautiful sister Galya. Many beautiful evil Sorceresses and Witches do this to random kings, but magic enters the equation here as well. The witch that plagued the Kingdom of Nippon used this as her main shtick to power.
    • Queen Cassiopeia uses this as a political tactic.
  • Distressed Damsel: It's Traditional. Though most of the young women in these books can keep their wits enough to do something toward their own escape, even if they can't get out without help.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Basically what the bird told Siegfried about the Niebelung ring. In an aversion to the trope, Siggy was smart enough to listen.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Sometimes Sasha feels this way, but shakes the thought off pretty quickly.
  • Double Standard: Virgins, especially when found attracting unicorns. Virgin girls don't get much of a reaction for their unicorn problem, other than a raised eyebrow on the Rusalka's case. Virgin boys, on the other hand, are sources of humor. In Acadia there were a large number of girls in the drawing for the Virgin Sacrifice, even after girls would have started taking steps to render themselves ineligible. When three unicorns bond with three new (male) knights, one godmother laments at how difficult it will be to keep them virgin.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Part of the role of the good magic users is to put the heroes through enough difficulty that they lose their flaws and become more appreciative of their reward once they finally achieve it. Aleksia, the Snow Queen, particularly resents that her "clients" never appreciate what she does for them.
  • Engagement Challenge: Invoked by at least one clever monarch who wanted to find a strong, brave, and compassionate man to be a husband for his daughter and heir to his throne.
    • Also invoked in The Sleeping Beauty. This one does double duty — the Kingdom of Eltaria is wealthy, and has greedy neighbors with armies. The princes are not only contenders for Rosamund's hand, but hostages keeping said neighbors from invading until a long-term solution is found.
  • Enthralling Siren: Mostly mentioned and not shown, but Katya has siren blood on her mother's side and the most beautiful of her sisters shows it more than most. King Vladislav has not bothered to manipulate The Tradition on their behalf since they do not recognize his authority as King of the Sea. The mermaids, who do, have had different paths forged which protect them.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Again; Tradition.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Solon is disgusted at how gleeful Cassiopeia is at the news that her daughter has met a violent end.
  • Evil Chancellor
  • Evil Gloating: Present and naturally lampshaded in Beauty and the Werewolf
    Elena "Thank you for that quite Traditional monologue..."
  • Exact Words: The typical Curse Escape Clause tends to depend on this.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Princess Andie realizing she had given her mother a reason to want her dead.
  • Expy: Some fairy tales are established in-world tropes, but they're called by different names (i.e. "Rapunzel" is "Ladderlocks").
    • It's hinted that Rapunzel was one specific victim of the "Ladderlocks" Traditional path.
  • The Fair Folk: Played arrow straight.
  • Fairy Godmother: The central concept of the book — other than the Tradition — is that a small army of Genre Savvy women with at least a touch of magic are out there, keeping an eye on things and trying to steer all the various stories to the happiest possible ending.
  • Fairest of Them All: A few unlucky princesses. Rosamund is the fairest in her kingdom, albeit in a small kingdom. The Queen of Copper Mountain is said to be the loveliest creature upon the earth.
  • Faking the Dead: Rosamund in order to escape the dwarves.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Both straight and subverted; All Myths Are True, but when elements from one culture turn up in Traditional storylines from another it usually means someone else has introduced them.
    • One of the best examples of this is in the short story "A Tangled Web" from the Harvest Moon anthology: it's a combination of Greek and Norse mythology with a prince of European background that was introduced in The Sleeping Beauty.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Several, of which one is to be completely cut off from The Tradition and condemned to live a completely ordinary, entirely non-magical life. (Unless that's what the person actually wants, and some do.) Rosalie being a prime example, after finding out what The Tradition intended to do with her she practically begged Godmother Bella to take it from her. As her life would have mirrored that of Fair Rosalinda, no one can blame her.
  • Financial Abuse: A tactic of Wicked Stepmothers to keep their exploited stepchildren under control, especially stepdaughters. In Elena's case, her stepmother held authority over her inheritance, and spent it on her daughters and herself. But Madame Klovis also ensured that Elena would have nowhere else to go, by making sure that no one would hire Elena. The laws of Otraria which make a parent or stepparent ultimate authority over a girl's life until she has married are fodder for that. Likely many other kingdoms have similar laws given the prevalence of Ella Cinders girls.
  • Fisher King: Kingdoms with benevolent rulers tend to be more pleasant and fertile, with nicer weather, than kingdoms with evil rulers.
  • The Fool: A Traditional role, and one which tends to convey a great deal of blind luck. Fortunately, stupidity is not a requirement; anyone in the right circumstances can act the Fool and get all the benefits.
  • Foreshadowing: Thanks to The Tradition, if something looks like the setup for some kind of fairy tale, it almost certainly is. For instance, when the female lead of Beauty and the Werewolf puts on a red cloak before going to visit the old lady who lives in the woods, it's pretty obvious that she's going to be attacked by a wolf that evening.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale
  • Genre Savvy: Handy for the average person; a job requirement for Godmothers, White Wizards, and other helpful types.
  • The Generic Guy: Leopold's older brother Theodore, the heir to the throne, is completely average despite being basically a nice guy. Leo got kicked out because his natural charm was eclipsing and outshining his brother.
  • Genius Bruiser: Siegfried, which kept him from going through the tragic tale he was suppose to. Not that it isn't persistent.
  • Giant Flyer: Including the coolest of them all: the dragon.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Cassiopeia in One Good Knight
  • Good Bad Girl: At least one Good Sorceress is shown as rather lusty but she and others fight in the side of good. The Rusalka is a zigzag example. She is supposed to be a murderous seductress revenging herself upon men but she is a virgin and she agrees to be a Scare 'Em Straight ploy rather than murder young men for real. Likely the Sea Princess Galya, who is the official sexy distraction of the Sea Court but is dutiful and devoted to the good of her kingdom.
  • Good Is Boring: Most of the stories focus on characters with some moral ambiguity instead of the absolutely pure in heart. Not that characters never develop Incorruptible Pure Pureness, they just have to come to it the hard way.
  • Good Is Dumb: The straight-up heroes, virtuous maidens, etc. also tend to be naive compared to the cunning, experienced villains. Fortunately they have intelligent allies.
  • The Good King: From various paths:
    • As a rule, the kings that started out as valiant peasants or that won an Engagement Challenge.
    • Those born to the throne if they had a Godmother to guide them or were otherwise made aware of The Tradition.
    • Redeemed Arrogant Bully oldest princes.
  • Good People Have Good Sex
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Goodmother Bella
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The Tradition almost twisted Aleksia into one.
  • Groin Attack: Prince Leopold gets a little too touchy-feely while trying to wake up the sleeping Rosamund. She promptly knees him in the royal jewels. Lily practically busts a gut laughing. Siegfried is impressed at her spirit and good sense. Later while getting some self defense training Rosa accidentally kicks Siggy in the danglies too. It impresses her that he does not get mad at her but rather he points out that it is the most effective way of disabling any man trying to attack her.
  • Guile Hero/Guile Heroine:
    • Prince Sasha of Led Belarus and The Sea King Vladislav.
    • Effective Godmothers (who exploit their Genre Savvy to the furthest extent possible).
    • Most of the major focus characters of the books are Guile Heroes in fact.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Sasha has small magics being a Songweaver, Seventh Son and Fortunate Fool, but used creatively and wisely he has kept Led Belarus peaceful and prosperous, which is more than one can say for powerful magicians.
    • The Drachenthal girl carried of by the Jinn was more impressed with Lesser Skalds, who guide and manipulate paths and are her homeland's equivalent of Songweavers, rather than Greater Skalds or Bards who forge new paths that might bring about lots of grief.
  • Heel-Face Turn
  • Hide Your Lesbians: There aren't many Traditional stories involving homosexuals, and as a result The Tradition has trouble figuring out what should happen when it inadvertently creates a situation where a Traditional romance should arise when both parties are of the same gender. Elena takes advantage of this at the end of the first book by going herself to rescue a married Damsel in Distress while her boyfriend leads the charge against the Big Bad, to ensure that none of the established relationships get screwed up by The Tradition.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Bad singers and other horrid musicians are acceptable targets for humor in Lackey's works, and this series is no exception.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: The Tradition gives this to many princesses or destined princesses, and a few Heroes in keeping with the trope's roots in Traditional fairy tales.
  • The Hedge of Thorns: Practically every evil stronghold.
  • I Call It Vera: Both averted and played straight: Champions are able to make any weapon in their hand a magic weapon, but owning a sword called Haeldrin the Wyrm-slayer would surely give you an advantage should you meet an actual Wyrm.
  • Impossible Task: All too often, especially issued from Wicked Stepmothers.
  • Incest Is Relative: Siegfried was supposed to fall in love with his aunt Brunnhilde due to the path assigned to him by his homeland's Jerkass Gods. Every time he sees her sleeping on her slab of stone, surrounded by a ring of fire, he runs as fast as he can in the other direction. He is on a personal quest to find another Prince to shove across the flames to wake her.
  • Invoked Trope: How Godmothers, Champions, and other Genre Savvy characters steer circumstances to their advantage.
  • It's All About Me: Queen Cassiopeia.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Prince Octavian. It is revealed that the reason he was awful to his brother Julian was because he was trying to help him in a misguided way. And after he fails his quest he gets on the path of redemption a lot quicker than his brother Alexander.
  • Jerk Ass Gods: The Drachenthal pantheon, which mirrors the Norse pantheon, is a prominent example but also the Olympia gods.
  • Karmic Transformation: Done to Prince Alexander by Elena to teach him humility.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The stepsisters of every Ella Cinders come to the household as children. Also the witch killer sociopaths were cruel to animals and younger children.
  • The Kingdom: Five hundred of them, to be precise.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Many Traditional Heroes, but particularly Champions.
Not enough context to determine if trope is being used correctly
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In The Snow Queen, when a minor character needs to be made to forget that he just blabbed the villain's plot to Godmother Aleksia.
  • Loophole Abuse: A major weapon in the arsenal of Godmothers, Wizards etc. in trying to subvert the Tradition.
  • Lottery Of Doom: In One Good Knight, to select the weekly virgin sacrifice.
  • Lovable Rogue: Prince Leopold from The Sleeping Beauty. He would never break his word or betray his host and would be on the bucket brigade if the town burns down, but his penchant for wild parties, wilder women, and general mischief has kings paying him off to stay away.
  • Love Potion: Well, lust spell. It works for a while.
  • Love Revelation Epiphany: In Sleeping Beauty, Godmother Lily doesn't realize she's developed feelings for Jimson until Jimson accidentally calls her "my love".
  • Lower Deck Episode: Some subplots are full fairy tale stories in their own right, seen from the perspective of the characters who assist the heroes and heroines to their happy endings.
  • Magical Seventh Son: Sasha has some small magics, in part because he's a seventh son. Also, in One Good Knight, Gina mentions that three of her siblings have magical abilities.
    "That kind of startled my parents, they had no idea that there was magic in their blood, but the sibs in question are the seventh born, the ninth born, and the thirteenth born, so that probably explains it."
  • Magic Knight: Champions.
  • Magic Mirror: Mirror slaves are popular for both Good and Evil magic workers; the Good ones, of course, do not actually treat them as slaves.
    • The Snow Queen is a Mirror Magic specialist.
    • As is Godmother Lily, in The Sleeping Beauty; it becomes plot-relevant.
  • Magic Wand: Used by Godmothers and other magic users. They are mostly a focusing device for magic; breaking the wand does nothing at all.
  • Meaningful Name: Useful in certain circumstances, especially if a Traditional Hero with the same name as you succeeded in doing something you're trying to accomplish.
  • Minimalist Cast: Beauty and the Werewolf, since almost all of it takes place in Sebastian's deserted castle. Unfortunately, this makes the identity of the Hidden Villain obvious by default.
  • Moral Myopia: Prince Alexander in The Fairy Godmother. It takes an extended Break the Haughty sequence to snap him out of it.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Both Sasha (a seventh son) and Katya (thirteen siblings) from Fortune's Fool. Also Gina (like Katya, one of fourteen) from One Good Knight.
  • Mundane Utility: As with most Lackey books, generally averted. Characters with magic typically do their work by hand and save magic for things only magic can do. Played straight in One Good Knight where a group of virgin girls use volunteer unicorns to purify mushrooms so they can eat them.
  • My Beloved Smother: Demeter, Persophene's mother in A Tangled Web.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: This is how unicorns feel about virgins. In Fortune's Fool a male unicorn show up to protect a malicious dark ghost because she is a virgin female. Never mind that she is a creature of darkness.
  • Nature Adores a Virgin: Unicorns are attracted to virgin humans: stallions to virgin women and mares to virgin men. This can be embarrassing if your virginity (or your gender) is not something you want announced to the world.
  • Neutral Female: Openly defied in both One Good Knight and The Sleeping Beauty.
  • Nice to the Waiter: It's a very good idea to be nice to the old beggar woman at the crossroad and give her food, she may very well be a magician in disguise. Sasha makes it a point to always be kind to everyone in need, and even show compassion to enemies. Typically in the verse, those that are nice to the waiter get richly rewarded, while those that are not set themselves up for a Break the Haughty.
  • Noble Demon: Arachnia before her Heel-Face Turn, Adamant and Periapt the Dragons (on first appearance — they turn out to be straight-up Heroes once people stop trying to slay them and actually listen to what they have to say).
  • No Man of Woman Born: The Tradition tends to leave loopholes like this, and a clever White Wizard or Fairy Godmother will look for them and exploit them.
    • In One Good Knight, the Evil Vizier quite literally cast a spell that said "no man" could cross the border of his kingdom to save Princess Andromeda or the other virgins being sacrificed to the dragon. Fairy Godmother Elena solves this problem by sending a female knight.
  • Obviously Evil: Arachnia, especially after her Heel-Face Turn. She likes the appearance of evil more than she likes causing actual pain.
    • Godmothers make use of this when they need an "Evil" force to try the heroes but do not want to put anyone in real danger.
  • Of Corset Hurts: Daphne, Elena's rather plump stepsister has to be fitted into one in The Fairy Godmother. Elena even has to put her foot on the back of Daphne's back to make it lace. But since Daphne gained the weight by eating everything in sight so Elena would not get it, it is hard to feel sorry for her discomfort.
  • Off the Rails: The only way to guarantee The Tradition won't mess with you is to take a violent swerve off the normal path.
  • Offing the Offspring: Queen Cassiopeia in One Good Knight makes sure her daughter's name is drawn in the Lottery Of Doom, shutting down claims that the drawing is rigged and terminating the kid's research into certain things in one fell swoop. Also King Henrik in The Fairy Godmother hints that he would not feel particularly sorry if his Unfavorite third son dies in his quest for Princess Kylia's hand in marriage. Elena makes sure he suffers for it.
  • Overprotective Dad: King Stancia.
  • Our Dragons Are Different
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Katya and her sisters are the daughters of the Sea King, but they have siren ancestry to give them legs instead of tails (which neatly averts the Mermaid Problem). Only Katya and her father are comfortable on land, however.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: Discussed in One Good Night, when Genre Savvy warrior Gina and naive princess Andie contemplate a bath in a stream. Gina is not amused by Andie's innocent questions about what could possibly go wrong.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Some Kings oust The Tradition from their kingdoms, thus weakening its power, but the cost is the loss of magic in the lives of their subjects and a heavy burden of Genre Blindness if something Traditional goes wrong.
  • Pair the Spares: In The Sleeping Beauty after Prince Siegfried wins the engagement challenge and Rosamund's hand, Leopold wakes up Brunnhilde, the woman Siegfried was fated to marry, and marries her himself.
  • Parental Favoritism: Both played straight and subverted.
  • Plot-Induced Stupidity
    • An in-universe example. Some fairy tales rely on characters picking up the Idiot Ball, so the Tradition can sometimes force characters into doing stupid things. (Usually minor ones, though. Case in point: the husband of the former fair Rosalind character who was getting set up to be the mother of a Rapunzel knew the mysterious woman who moved in next door to them was a really bad idea to mess with, but such was the power of the Tradition that he ended up stealing from her garden anyway.)
  • Poke the Poodle: In The Fairy Godmother, the Evil Sorceress who comes to a royal christening is more lonely than evil, and once Godmother Bella introduces her to a potential boyfriend she loses most of her interest in carrying out her Traditional role. She eventually casts a half-hearted curse that the Princess will wake up on her Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday with... incredibly tangled hair. Deconstructed as if Elena hadn't interfered, the Tradition would have made it a truly horrible curse.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Since The Tradition invests a great deal of magic in those it is trying to control, evil magic users benefit from attracting Questers and Abandoned Children in the Woods, and from kidnapping certain would-be protagonists so that they can continually drain off the power that The Tradition is shoving at them.
  • Prophetic Name: Can be useful or a burden, depending on the prophecy.
  • Pungeon Master: The Tradition itself. It loves puns.
  • The Quest
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Elena in The Fairy Godmother. Most characters who really understand The Tradition come to resent how it interferes with the lives of others.
  • Rags to Royalty: Happens to the Ella Cinders that have an appropriate Prince. And to other peasants turned princesses as well. Will happen to Rosalie's daughter Clarissa when she turns 16.
  • Rapunzel Hair: The Ladderlocks gals.
  • Reality Ensues: Over and over. These tropes are playing out in people's lives, after all.
  • Rescue Romance: Traditionally mandatory... which can be awkward if the two characters don't want to fall in love, and really inconvenient if either party is already intended to end up with someone else.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Some Kings and Queens, but more Princes and Princesses. Katya's family in Fortune's Fool is a good example.
  • Rule of Three
  • Rule of Seven
  • Save the Princess
  • Sacred Hospitality: A Traditional force, with Traditional loopholes. Offering a guest a meal that does not include bread or salt means that you have not technically broken bread or shared salt with him, so that guest is not bound by the laws of hospitality.
  • Screw Destiny: The Tradition will irresistibly force a path on characters and cannot be blocked. The only escape is to change circumstances until they no longer fit the fairy tale.
  • Secret Test of Character
  • Serpent of Immortality: Invoked in-universe in The Sleeping Beauty. When Godmother Lily is undoing the "look like she's dead" spell on Rosa, one component of the ritual is a snake ring on Rosa's hand to symbolize rebirth.
  • Shout-Out: In The Fairy Godmother, when the main character is at the hiring fair, Mort is the last person waiting, even after she leaves. His name isn't mentioned, but Mercedes Lackey is a fan of Terry Pratchett and has confirmed outside the book that yes, that was Mort.
  • Simple Yet Opulent: Solon in "One Good Night" loves things that are more costly and fine than they look.
  • Spare To The Throne: Some princes.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Dragon's blood can be used to give somebody this ability, diluted dragon's blood gives the ability temporarily while the pure stuff makes it permanent.
  • Standard Hero Reward: The father of one character was a kingdom-saving hero who was offered the 6-year-old princess. He married one of her bodyguards instead.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Not only a good way to exploit loopholes but a source of mild comic embarrassment when it requires saving the fair maiden, who will Traditionally fall in love with her rescuer unless drastic measures are taken.
    • One of the Princes in The Sleeping Beauty is in fact a Princess.
  • Talking Animal
  • Teens Are Monsters: The sociopathic Witch Killers are teenagers. Also many wicked stepsiblings.
  • 24-Hour Armor: Worn by Sir George in One Good Knight. Justified several ways, including the fact that it is enchanted with spells that make it comfortable to wear.
  • Twincest: Siegfried's parents, who met as adults and didn't know they were brother and sister.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Provided you can set up the "Ragtag Bunch of Misfits restore the lost heir to the throne" story and not "heroic castle defenders repel the murderous peasant uprising."
  • The Unfavorite: Invoked in Fortune's Fool by the king of Led-Belarus. He had studied The Tradition enough to know what benefits the disdained seventh son of a king would bring; so while in private Sasha was the treasured young trickster and luck maker, insofar as the court and boyars knew....
  • Ur Example —> Trope Maker —> Trope Codifier: The trope-making sequence exists in universe. The discussion of "Robbin' John's Army" in One Good Knight is the clearest description of one person's heroics becoming a well-worn Traditional path as others imitate him.
  • Virgin Power
  • Virgin Sacrifice: In One Good Knight to mollify a rampaging dragon.
    • Eventually subverted; one of the women the dragon carries off was notably promiscuous and the beginning of Princess Andromeda's realization that the queen is now openly using the sacrifices to get rid of her enemies.
  • Virginity Flag: Again, unicorns.
  • The Verse: The Five Hundred Kingdoms.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Aleksia in The Snow Queen; Elena for much of The Fairy Godmother, Lily playing the role of Queen-Consort Sable in The Sleeping Beauty. Single women in power must beware of loneliness in case The Tradition sends them a Cad, a Rake, or some other betrayer who will take advantage of them.
    • Making sure that the elements aren't in place for The Tradition to do this plays an important part of The Fairy Godmother. The would-be Cad is turned into a Knight Protector, ensuring that The Tradition is now more interested in making sure that he lives up to that role rather than keep trying to shove him into the Cad role. This also ensures that Elena can have a successful relationship with him, which stymies The Tradition from sending any more Betrayers after her.
  • Wicked Mother: Queen Cassiopeia sacrifices her own daughter to a dragon via a rigged lottery when it looks like Andromeda is becoming a threat. Even her co-conspirator Solon the Evil Sorcerer is disgusted at how eager she is to murder her own child.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Played straight and averted. The Tradition can turn previously decent women bitter when they become stepmothers unless outside forces act to help. Aleksia's stepmother just barely averted it thanks to counseling by Godmother Veroushka.
    • In Beauty and the Werewolf Belle is told by Elena that she, by being so controlling of the household, accidentally saved her stepmother from that fate.
  • Winter Royal Lady: All the Snow Queens qualify, but Aleksia in particular, having been born a Royal.
  • Woman in Black: Most evil Witches and Sorceresses. Lily's persona of Queen Sable and Arachnia.
  • Woman in White: Aleksia the Ice Fairy, Snow Queen and Godmother of the northern lands. Also Guiliette the Wili wears a white dress reminiscent of a wedding dress at all times. Likely snow maidens as well.
  • Woman Scorned: Rusalkas, Wilis. All are young women used and discarded by men who after their deaths walk as otherworldly beings bend on revenging themselves on all men that cross their path. They are capable of redemption if they truly forgive the man that caused their pain and despair, but it is very difficult to forgive both the men and themselves. Guiliette the Wili manages it in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming combined with a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: The Queen of Copper Mountain is a contender for the title.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When two teenage siblings run around killing good witches because they like to kill and cause pain, even the mildest Godmother would not hesitate to send a dragon after them by invoking the threats mothers give to children when they misbehave. Which are as valid a Traditional path as tales are.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Perhaps the worst fate to befall anyone in the Five Hundred Kingdoms. Alexander's father, King Henrik is a prime example. He rules as a real world ruler would, dismissing magic and tales as foolishness. It almost costs him all of his sons. A Genre Savvy king in his place would only have sent the youngest son to the quest, after making sure said young man was equipped to pass all Traditional tests. Instead he sends all three of his sons. The first two would never pass the first test and is obvious from first glance. The third son, Henrik sent in an effort to get rid of him, deeming him an embarrassment.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The main dramatic tension of the series occurs when characters are stuck in a tale they don't want to be in.
  • Youkai: When Katya travels to Nippon she encounters Lady Tamiko the Kitsune. And gets her father an alliance with the Twelve-tailed Kitsune.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Since that's how it generally turns out in stories, well...


The Stinky Cheese ManFairy TaleThe Adventures of Pinocchio
Tairen SoulRomance NovelTeen Idol
Tales of the Branion RealmFantasy LiteratureTales of the Otori
The Tales of Beedle the BardLiterature of the 2000sTales of the Frog Princess

alternative title(s): The 500 Kingdoms; Tales Of The Five Hundred Kingdoms
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