Today's book review is This Scepter'd Isle by Mercedes Lackey and Roberta Gellis.
This book has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, and I finally got around to reading it. I'd originally picked it up because of Lackey's name and, as I recall, Larry Smith describing it as a SERRAted Edge book, and then for some reason it seemed less attractive once on my shelf than it had on the dealer's table and I kept grabbing something else.
This is only sort of a SERRAted Edge book. It has more or less the same kind of elves and the same kind of magic, but it takes place in the court of Henry VIII, so it doesn't have the contemporary urban fantasy flavor at all. And, while it's not badly written or really heavy prose, it definitely doesn't feel like a Mercedes Lackey book. (I have had this problem with enough books "by Mercedes Lackey and ________" that I resolve to stop being taken in; it won't be a Misty book unless she's the sole author.) Thus, I was not getting the book I was expecting, which had me primed for disappointment. Add to this a measure of cognitive dissonance, because Henry FitzRoy is a major character, and while I know Henry FitzRoy is a real historical figure and perfectly fair game for someone else's fiction, to me, the real Henry FitzRoy is the one in Tanya Huff's Blood series. It took me a while to get through these problems and see the book on its own, and I'm not sure I ever got to the point where I was giving the book a completely fair reading.
This isn't a bad book. The story is reasonably engaging, and it was interesting to see how it manages to tie itself in to the actual history it interacts with in a way that doesn't strain either my limited understanding of history or my appreciation of the plot. But the characters never really came alive for me as people I cared about, and the writing never quite fully engaged my imagination the way good fantasy writing should. So it's not really a good book either. 6 out of 10.