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The Gates of Sleep

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Gates of Sleep.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Mercedes Lackey(Author) Kayla Fell(Performer)

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Mercedes Lackey's magical Elemental Masters series recasts familiar fairy tales in a richly-imagined alternate Victorian world
For seventeen years, Marina Roeswood had lived in an old, rambling farmhouse in rural Cornwall in the care of close friends of her wealthy, aristocratic parents. As the ward of bohemian artists in Victorian England, she had grown to be a free thinker in an environment of fertile creativity and cultural sophistication. But the real core of her education was far outside societal norms. For she and her foster parents were Elemental Masters of magic, and learning to control her growing powers was Marina's primary focus.
But though Marina's life seemed idyllic, her existence was riddled with mysteries. Why, for example, had she never seen her parents, or been to Oakhurst, her family's ancestral manor? And why hadn't her real parents, also Elemental Masters, trained her themselves? That there was a secret about all this she had known from the time she had begun to question the world around her. Yet try as she might, she could get no clues out of her guardians.
But Marina would have answers to her questions all too soon. For with the sudden death of her birth parents, Marina met her new guardian--her father's eldest sister Arachne. Aunt Arachne exuded a dark magical aura unlike anything Marina had encountered, a stifling evil that seemed to threaten Marina's very spirit.
Slowly Marina realized that her aunt was the embodiment of the danger her parents had been hiding her from in the backwoods of Cornwall. But could Marina unravel the secrets of her life in time to save herself from the evil that had been seeking her for nearly eighteen years?

In a brilliant twist, the author sets the classic story of "Sleeping Beauty" in Edwardian England...Wonderful. ("Publishers Weekly")"Putting a fresh face to a well-loved fairytale is not an easy task, but it is one that seems effortless to the prolific Lackey, best known for her Valdemar series (Arrows of the Queen, etc.)." --Publishers Weekly

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Review Text

  • By Cat Finlayson on 9 June 2017

    Again almost a fairytale but with some interesting historical biys added. Slightly sleeping beauty or any evil stepmother story, not the best of the series but a good read.

  • By Jaz (Cloud Child) on 23 April 2016

    A very enjoyable read, and though it followed the constraints of the fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty", it was a small feature to the historical detail and elemental magic decorating the main plot. I read mixed reviews in between beginning this story which made a tad apprehensive, but I'm glad I stuck on. It seems slow moving stories when dressed up with historical tidbits are my cuppa tea. In some reviews it was described as aimless, and I do agree that the story meandered, however this was something I appreciated.The StorySet in early 1900s, the prologue starts off with a party of people, mostly artists and elementals, attending a christening. This follows with the classic scene of the evil witch placing a curse on the young child, which spells death on her 18th birthday. In this case the evil one is the estranged aunt Arachne, and the baby, her niece Marina Roeswood, daughter to Alanna and Hugh, the earth mages and gentry of Oakhurst, England. The magic is elemental, and the curse is dulled by a guest water mage.Marina is consequently sent off in hiding to live with her godparents, Thomas, Sebastian and Sebastian's wife Margherita Tarrant. She grows up in the English countryside, with none of the confines of the upper class, growing up with the natural surroundings, learning history and politics and magic, becoming a liberal minded and educated young woman. Her talent is water magic, while her guardians are earth and fire mages. She views them as her true family, though she maintains a distant relationship with her estranged parents via letters.As it nears her 18th birthday, she starts receiving lessons for water magic, by Elisabeth, the godparent who reduced the severity of her curse. She learns to control and wield defensive shields and speak to the elementals such as Undines. However just before Christmas, suddenly bad news arrives at her door, in the form of lawyers. Her parents are dead and her aunt, whom she has never heard of has taken control of her guardianship. Literally kidnapped from the hands of those she loves, she is dragged back to her parents' home under the command of autocratic Arachne.Arachne maintains two different faces, one where she plots against Marina, and the other where she carefully sets traps of social grace for Marina under the guise of teaching her what is acceptable in 'polite society'. Her son Reggie is part of the plan and they both use sinister magic, despite having no power themselves. Marina through her own devices manages to undermine her despite being naïve to her true intentions.There is a lot of plot points, from the original fairy tale arc, the plight of the working class, the elemental magics in action and some more.Things I wasn't a fan ofIt started off very wordy and just the introduction of the characters in the prologue was enough to make my head bend. And throughout the book there were many instances where the paragraphs rambled from one topic to another (which I didn't mind, my mind often goes that way too), but then suddenly repeated or reverted back to its original topic (which I do mind), and this was jarring or irrelevant. There was also random little tidbits of information, or plot points which looked like they would become something bigger but then trailed off. Like the fact Marina wanted to become a musician. And then nothing came of it.Also I found it hard to understand, that despite the fact her guardians, or as uncles and aunt, as she sees them, make it clear her parents are alive and well and she receives regular letters from them, they never explore with her the reasons for their estrangement. Her nature, though not timid is one that seems to want to please those she cares for and though she always wonders why they left her in others care, she feels like this topic is one to leave unexplored. Her personality is believable so its understandable why she doesn't push something that she believes might be harmful to her relationships. On the other hand, this is not the case for her guardians, and its not explained why they never gave her an inkling of the reasons she was under their care. Its very vague. I'm not at all satisfied by the explanations. It seems as this was just another device to keep her under the impression of Arachne being just an overbearing yet concerned relative.Though the author draws Arachne well enough to show the facets of her personality, and her evil and hateful intentions, her aspirations for more power and wealth, the original reason for her putting the curse is not explored. Again another vague plot device. Especially since its showed how meticulously she has worked for years to form a plan to take full control. Reggie, her son, just comes off as an asnine BUFFFOOOON, who somehow has a more evil mask that is shown nearer the end. I just didn't totally buy it.The rushed romance at the end was also a bit off. From Marina and Andrew's first meeting, I enjoyed their chemistry. But the groundwork wasn't laid well enough for this to transform into a realistic romance, especially in between all the other major events happening.Things I very much enjoyedI loved how the author built up the descriptions of Marina's world, from the middle class artistic and liberal upbringing, the natural surroundings, the village.Marina was a fun character, not a strong badass, but more someone who worked hard to use her own resources. She was pretty mature for a 17 year old, and someone who had a strong sense of responsibility. She was also very naïve, but not in an annoying or unbelievable way.The historical aspects were pretty detailed and cleverly woven in. Working class plights from the new farming laws, the plight of factory workers, lead poisoning, lack of provisions and such were described. The fashions of society women, and the social graces were a prominent feature in the latter part of the book.The addition of Dr Andrew's sanitarium was nice, and gave an opening to a magical ally while she was under Arachnes power. It was another chance to see a different way to use elemental magic to cure mental patients.The elemental magic was explained well, with the strengths of the different magics shown throughout the story. I especially liked the elementals that appeared for each of the different elemental magics, fom Sylphs for Air mages to Fauns for Earth mages.OverallThough it may seem like I had more stuff I didn't enjoy they were pretty small things in the bigger story. I would have liked to have the more sinister magic and its history explored further. I loved the pacing personally, and it read like a dream.

  • By gegi on 9 July 2008

    This is attempt at reframing 'Sleeping Beauty' within the setting of industrial England and Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series. However, the plot just doesn't work, and is completely absent for large stretches of the book, which are instead busy talking about how wonderful it is to be an Elemental Master and how misguided everyone else is.The villain is known from the very beginning of the book (no suspense) but WHY she does what she does is completely unknown to the very end. Her schemes simply make no sense. If she has the power to murder powerful magicians at a whim, why does she instead waste power on a complicated curse for a helpless infant, and then seem unable to actually carry out that curse until the writer realised the book was almost over and it had better get on with the plot? What was the point of cursing her anyway? What was she doing with all her supposed power?No one really carries out any plans - when the final crisis comes, it is quickly solved without us having to wonder about how, and all the actions taken by characters earlier in the story are completely meaningless. And then we're suddenly told two characters who have barely interacted are in love and are going to get married.About all you can draw from this story is that pottery factories are bad.

  • By J. Quah on 28 April 2013

    I agree with the review by gegi on 9 July 2009 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0756401011/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_img_sol_10). I don't think there was enough time spent developing the characters in this book.The plot seems to have taken a backseat in favour of long rambling descriptions of scenery and I was left with too many unanswered questions at the end. The turn of events did not make much sense, especially the battle scenes and sudden love interest which felt like a 'quick-fix' to end the story.I had hoped that this book would follow in the footsteps of The Serpents Shadow (which I really enjoyed!), but was slightly disappointed when I finally closed the book. All the 'good' characters seem too good to be true (to the point where Marina is slightly annoying) and the 'bad' characters are too predictable. I hope the rest of the Elemental series are better books than this one!

  • By The Tome Raider on 17 March 2015

    One of the earliest books in the series, this story gives a new twist to the old legend of the Sleeping Beauty, although Marina doesn't spend her first 17 years asleep, but hidden away from a vindictive aunt by her parents' friends. Said aunt is making a great deal of money with a group of pottery factories which are devastating the local countryside and incidentally, leaching the life out of the young women who are employed to paint scenes on the finished pottery. Needless to say, something more sinister is going on, but it is not till very near the end of the book that the pace speeds up and rushes headlong to a firecracker finale.


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