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Literature / The Princess Series

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Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty Took a Level in Badass

A book series by Jim C. Hines. In short, it's the Disney Princesses meets Charlie's Angels with Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty as the main characters.

It begins a few months after Cinderella (called Danielle in this version) has gotten married. She is adjusting to palace life when one of her stepsisters comes to see her. One magic-fueled assassination attempt later and Danielle has to deal not only with the fact that her stepsisters seem to know magic but that they have also kidnapped her husband Prince Armand. The only reason Danielle is still alive is because of the help of a fierce warrior woman called Talia, better known as Sleeping Beauty. She takes Danielle to see Queen Beatrice (Bea to her friends) who reveals that she runs the kingdom's spy service and introduces the princess to her other top agent, a master of mirror magic, Snow (as in White). Danielle must now team up with her fellow princesses to save the prince and stop her stepsisters.

Each book tells the further adventures of Danielle, Talia, and Snow. A major subversion of the classic princess tales since it’s the princesses who go out and save the day. The main characters' stories are well known in universe too. However, the versions circulated in rumor (the Disney versions) leave out or ignore major, often dark details (the Brothers Grimm versions). The princesses meet other well known characters like The Little Mermaid and Little Red Riding Hood.


  • The Stepsister Scheme
  • The Mermaid's Madness
  • Red Hood's Revenge
  • The Snow Queen's Shadow

This series features the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Danielle's glass sword; the final gift from her mother's spirit, the only thing it can't cut through is Danielle's own flesh (determined when someone attempts to use the weapon against her), even after it shatters rather than harm her and Snow has to help Danielle repair it.
  • Accidental Marriage: Actually accidental near-engagement. Varisto gave Talia a sword that Snow recognizes as a betrothal proposal in Hilad. Luckily for Talia, Varisto learns that she is pledged to Queen Beatrice and unable to take other obligations. Snow found it hilarious.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Unlike her Disney depiction, Talia is dark, and has a vaguely middle eastern sounding name (Talia Malak-el-Dashat).
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The "Seven Dwarves" are this for the Elemental Powers of Light, Fire, Water, Darkness, Earth, Wind, and Magic.
  • Appropriated Appellation: Due to her Embarrassing First Name note  Snow prefers to be called by her famous nickname rather then by her given name.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Snow, Danielle and Talia.
  • Bond Creatures: The ship Philippa, to Hephyra. She's a dryad, and it's her tree.
  • Broken Bird: Talia is an almost textbook example of this since her tragic past causes her to have a very stoic, sarcastic, and violent attitude.
  • Butch Lesbian: Talia seems to be this. She is in love with Snow White and has an ex-girlfriend. She is also an aggressive fighter, cynical, and speaks bluntly.
  • Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff": Or aviar in this case.
  • Cast from Lifespan: It takes seven years off of Snow's life every time she summons her Dwarves.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Little Red Riding Hood. She's mentioned briefly in the first book, and the third centers around her.
  • The Chessmaster: The Duchess is notorious for her ability to manipulate others, having tricked the King and Queen of Fairytown into a situation where both of them are obliged to leave her alone even after she tried to kill them. She attempts to trick Danielle in a similar manner, but Danielle and the others are able to turn the tables on the Duchess and deliver her to the King and Queen.
  • Cool Old Lady: Beatrice is both likable and wise.
  • Curse Escape Clause: True Love's Kiss is known to break some otherwise very powerful curses (Even when it's the "kiss" of a blade containing the spirit of a mother that truly loves you). The series later explains that curse loopholes are due to factors of leverage and possibility; a truly unbreakable spell would require an enormous amounts of power, but true love is rare enough that it's functionally the same as an unbreakable curse. Which also implies that people only hear about the notable cases — the rare ones that have been broken.
    • A very dark example for Talia: She could only be awoken by the future king of the realm. The birth of her twin sons finally broke the curse in the worst way possible.
  • Cursed with Awesome: How Talia sees her fairy gifts. She has beauty, grace, and skill, but wound up sleeping away centuries and getting raped.
  • Daddy's Girl:
    • The first thing Snow does when she arrives in Allesandria is to kill the wizard that made the poison that killed her father. He offered to help her get the throne and she refused him saying that she loved her father. And she was almost completely under Demonic Possession by then.
    • Danielle also was very close to her father. It is hinted it was one of the reasons for her stepmother's hatred toward her.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Since all of the princesses of The Princesses Series are based mostly on the Brothers Grimm version they all have this, though some more than others.
    • Cinderella's mother died when she was very young. Her father dies when she is ten of a long and painful illness. She then becomes a virtual slave to her stepmother and stepsister who abuse her physically and mentally. She becomes a prisoner in her own home with mice and birds being her only true friends. And then they set off the plot of the first book in revenge....
    • Snow White’s mother was a vain, power hungry witch who never cared about her daughter. She wanted to take over Snow’s body, and when that plan failed she tried to have Snow killed. After tracking her daughter down she killed Snow’s love in front of her eyes. After Snow kills her mother, her country falls into civil war and she is forced to flee lest she be executed for regicide.
    • Sleeping Beauty and the entire royal family were cursed to sleep. In their absence, the kingdom descends into civil war. The winning faction takes the throne and murders the sleeping royal family so they can't challenge the new rulers. Beauty is raped in her sleep and wakes from the pain of childbirth. Forced to marry her rapist, she murders him on the wedding night and flees for her life, leaving their twin sons behind.
  • Demonic Possession: Snow in the final novel.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • The crew of the Philippa when the princesses get transformed in the third book. Talia sometimes gets distracted by Snow's sexy.
    • May also apply to when Snow, Danielle, and Talia are shapeshifted into mermaids and have to swim through a mermaid tribe in the midst of their spawning. This is more due to Lirea's royal pheromones than attractive undines, though.
  • Does Not Like Men: Talia, but being a survivor of rape is more than likely what it's rooted in.
  • Downer Ending: The end of The Mermaid's Madness. The princesses discover that the mermaid princess Lirea, who attacked the Queen with a magic soul sucking knife and is trying to start a war between merpeople and humans, is not the real villain of the story. She has been under the influence of a spell cast by her grandmother Morveren that is slowly driving her mad. Morveren is killed and the spell broken but the experience left her mind shattered. In the end, she was confined to a tower by the sea with only the occasional visit from her sister to help her recover. As a result of the attack Queen Bea now only has a little over a year to live. They stopped the war but that's about the only good to come from this.
  • Elemental Powers: Gustan got air spirits, which passed to Lirea thanks to his soul in her knife, while Varisto got power over earth.
  • Everyone Is Bi: At least among the undine.
  • Fairy Tale Free-for-All: The novels cast fairytale princesses (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White) as spies, with other fairy tale heroines (such as Little Red Riding Hood and the Little Mermaid) popping up as well.
  • Famed In-Story: The stories of the main characters are as well known in their world as they are in ours. Played with as the versions of the story that are most well known are the Lighter and Softer Disney versions while what really happened is closer to the Darker and Edgier Grimm Brothers versions.
  • Fantastic Racism: Some people have problems with fairies and undine, though Lorindar has made alliances with both. Talia's hatred of the fairies is well-known, at least to those who know her real story.
  • Foreshadowing: In The Stepsister Scheme, Queen Rose's ghost removed Talia's fairy gifts while possessing Stacia, all but crippling her. Despite Talia having been used to them pretty much all her life, one would think it would have brought her down to normal instead. But two books later in "Red Hood's Revenge", we learn that Talia was born weak and sickly, and the fairies' gifts effectively saved her life.
  • Glass Weapon: In The Stepsister Scheme, Danielle's glass sword contains her mother's soul.
  • Good Bad Girl: Snow White will risk her life for her friends and flirts with anything male, human or not. Stated to do more than flirt off page.
  • Gratuitous Princess: The three main characters are the princesses Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. Also in the second book they fight against a mermaid princess Lirea with the help of her sister and fellow princess Lannadae.
  • Grand Theft Me:
    • Rose (Snow's evil mom) does this to Stacia.
    • Rose's demon does to Snow White.
  • Hate Plague: The people infected by Snow's mirror shards.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Snow created Gerta as a means to save herself, but later sacrifices herself to save Gerta.
  • An Ice Person: Snow is skilled with ice magic.
  • Imaginary Friend: Gerta aka Rose Gertrude Curtana, was Snow's imaginary sister that she created out of loneliness in her childhood. Later Snow makes her real.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • While knives, swords and such are appropriate for a medieval-style fantasy such as this, Snow gets snowflake-shaped shuriken, made for her by Talia.
    • Talia herself wields a zaraq, a whip-like weapon with what looks like a spindle attached to the end.
  • Incompatible Orientation:
    • Talia is secretly in love with Snow, who is very straight.
    • Gerta later mentions that Snow considered taking a love potion for Talia after Faziya left Lorindar.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:
    • Snow likes to throw these out.
    (As they are climbing around inside a tree)
    Snow: Looks like the tunnel branches off.
    Talia: *Throws an acorn at her*
    • Talia later recalls an incident in which Snow took revenge on Armand for an insult with a spell that made it rain in his room - provided she stayed in the lavatory. When questioned later, she commented that she wanted him to know what it felt like to be a peon.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: Danielle and Armand go at it like rabbits the moment the wedding is over.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Snow is quick to correct people that she is not a witch, she is a sorceress.
    • They're not mermaids, they're undine.
  • Instant Armor: A couple of times in The Snow Queen's Shadow, Snow uses her magic to create an ice-armor for herself.
  • Little Red Fighting Hood: Roudette, the Lady of the Red Hood. Talia claims the cloak and the title after Roudette's death.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Snow as a child. To console herself she imagined that she had a sister.
  • Loophole Abuse: How the Duchess got out of her execution (asking to see one last sunrise before she died and then fleeing underground where she could not see the sun) and how she planned on taking Jakob for herself (agreeing to returning him for six months of every year until he became an adult, though time passes differently in Fairytown). Danielle returns the favor by marrying Jakob to Gerta, therefore making him an adult by Lorindar law, and exposing her to that last sunrise.
  • Lost in Translation: An In-Universe example. Sleeping Beauty was knocked out by a zaraq, a whip-like weapon with what looks like a spinning wheel's spindle attached to one end. When her tale was translated, the writers didn't know what it was, and just decided to say it was a spindle based on the picture.
  • Magic Mirror: Snow's mother created a powerful one to enhance her magic. Snow brings it with her to Lorindar, but discovers in the final book that it's power comes from a demon bound within it which possess Snow when the mirror breaks.
  • Magic Music: Mermaids sing to weave their spells.
  • Meaningful Name: A few. Danielle's/Cinderella's maiden name is De Glas, like the glass slipper (plus her father was a glass worker). The mermaid princess's name from The Mermaid's Madness is Lirea, an anagram for Ariel.
  • Mermaid Problem: Lirea and Gustan prove that it's possible for the two species to have sex, although Lirea, being a royal, has two tails instead of the usual single one. At one point, Snow starts to wonder out loud about how merpeople have sex, but is cut off by Talia.
  • Mind Rape: Poor Lirea receives this from her own grandmother.
  • Ninja Maid: Talia is one of the top secret agents for Queen Bea. She is highly trained martial artist whose abilities are enhanced by fairy magic. Her cover is that of a simple palace servant.
  • Odd Couple:
    • Snow and Talia were this back before Danielle (Cinderella) joined the team making it a trio. Snow is intelligent, immature, outgoing, wields magic, and is younger than she looks due to magic. Talia is reserved, stoic, cynical, a high level warrior, and is older than she looks due to magic.
    • And at the end of the series, Talia is this with Snow's sister, Gerta.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: All the various different fairies from fairytales, from the human-like fairy royalty to tiny winged pixies to talking animals, are all accounted for. Their society exists in a caste system. They like bargaining for human children and are sticklers for Exact Words.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: They have Magic Music, and the Royals have two tails instead of one. And have no souls. Maybe.
  • Our Pixies Are Different: Pixies are depicted as a type of fae which is small and has gossamer wings which give of colored sparks as they beat in a hummingbird-like manner. These wings also have the ability to change color depending on the emotion of the pixie at the time and are magical with the ability to carry twenty times their own weight. They also wear clothes made of flowers and have hair that is in exotic colors such as green.
  • Parental Abandonment: Talia herself has done this, as her offspring were the products of rape while she slept. Her rapist sent them to a temple somewhere, and never told Talia where. We finally meet them in Red Hood's Revenge. Mahatal is furious at her for killing their father, but Mutal admits that he could be wrong about her.
  • Prehensile Hair: Brahkop. Might be a troll racial trait.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: How Snow uses her Magic Mirror.
  • Shout-Out: Snow makes it so that the enemy ship's sails has a flavor.
    • One of the aviars in the first book used to be named Zoe, but was later given a new dwarfish name mistranslated into "Stormbreaker".
  • Significant Anagram: Lirea's name is no accident. She's a reference to The Little Mermaid character, Ariel.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Gustan and Varisto. Gustan is an irresponsible playboy with a taste for conquest and Varisto is the Wise Prince, though a bit more bloodthirsty than the norm. Their bonded elemental spirits reflect this as well. Gustan got air spirits and Varisto got earth spirits.
  • Shipper on Deck: Snow tried to ship Talia and Varisto. According to her they both like nothing more than to pummel people so they would be perfect for each other.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Danielle can talk to and command animals. It turns into a very useful ability as she has different creatures attack enemies, help friends, or assist her in other ways. It's not just birds and mice, either: she also pulls this trick with sharks and sea serpents.
  • Stepford Smiler: Snow despite her cheerful and joking facade carries a lot of resentment and pain which is what gives the demon that possesses her the means to twist her into a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Lirea, and later the princesses. It comes with Painful Transformation, though.
  • Warrior Princess: All three of the princesses, though in different ways. Talia is the fighter and Snow is the magic wielder. Danielle does not have much at the beginning except determination and control over animals. One magic sword and some lessons from Talia later and she is able to hold her own.
  • Weird Moon: Fairytown has two, one for the king and one for the queen.

Alternative Title(s): Princess Series