Monday, November 8, 2021

The Bluebird

The Bluebird (The Seven Kingdoms #9)The Bluebird by Cordelia Castel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This installment of Cordelia Castel’s Seven Kingdoms series actually occurs mostly before the previous books in the franchise, opening with the fairy Paloma, a minor character in previous books (and I definitely don’t remember her all that well), in the village hall in Bluebird Territory, watching musicians play, and faces potential banishment from not getting a courtship mate, and indeed doesn’t get a partner, with her stepfather consequentially disdaining her. Meanwhile, a younger Orson Bluebear has captured the Fairy Prince Evander, with his mother lauding him, although his father is angry at him stowing away, and promises Orson an arranged marriage.

Paloma seeks her true father, going en route to the Seven Kingdoms and getting a potential mating opportunity with Orel. Orson, in the meantime, is promised a girl named Albina, and ultimately crosses paths with Paloma, for whom he has feelings, although he marries Albina regardless. Certain circumstances would lead their marriage to end, after which Orson hears about the missing Princess Gullinbursti, daughter to Queen Hippohyus. Paloma receives a promotion to Sergeant for her role in locating the imprisoned Prince Evander, having been able to conceive a child with the Queen of Ogres during his captivity in Steppe.

Orson soon forms a mating bond with Orson, wishing to conceive an heir to House Bluebeard, and receives the task of finding and protecting Princess Gullinbursti, soon marrying Argyropus, circumstances again causing their marriage to end, with his next mate being the ogress Java, who doesn’t care much for Paloma. Circumstances would again cause Orson’s marriage to end, and he eventually enters the Seven Kingdoms, making contact with Granny Escroc, who at one point incinerates someone’s house as retribution for harassment, and has potential information about Gullinbursti’s whereabouts. While Orson keeps Paloma as a mate, she is unsupportive of his desire to mate with the missing Princess.

Orson eventually discovers the squalid living conditions of Princess Gullinbursti, known by those close to her as Cendrilla, and wishes to rescue her, although her guardians are reluctant to let her go, and he seeks to become Ambassador of Steppe, still keeping Paloma as a companion. Orson spends some time getting used to the United Kingdom of Seven and its working, and his position as Steppe’s Ambassador requires him to spend most of his time in the city of Metropole, although he visits Cendrilla’s residence as often as he can, and her sixteenth birthday ultimately comes.

At one point, Cendrilla literally gets sick with fright, although she too becomes a heroine to the downtrodden, and enrolls in the Anti-Magic Academy, where she does poorly, something Orson wishes so that she receives her expulsion and doesn’t develop the school’s persecutive attitude. Paloma and Cendrilla find themselves imperiled again, and the epilogue occurs nine months later. Overall, while it wasn’t perfect, given some minor confusion as to the dramatis personae, I found this one of the better Seven Kingdoms stories, given its elaboration as to the backstory of Lord Bluebeard and revelation as to the fates of his prior marriages, and those who enjoyed other books will likely get a lot from it.

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