Cover image for The black swan
The black swan
Lackey, Mercedes.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : DAW Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
376 pages ; 24 cm.
Subject Term:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Science Fiction/Fantasy

On Order



After his wife's untimely death, a powerful sorcerer dedicates his life to seeking revenge against all womankind. Scouring his lands to capture women who inspire his rage for vengeance, he turns them into swans who only regain their human forms by the transitory light of the moon. Only Odette, noblest of the enchanted flock, has the courage to confront her captor. Can she gain the allies she needs to free herself and the other swan-maidens from their magical slavery?A monumental tale of loyalty and betrayal, of magic used for good and for evil, of love both carnal and pure, and of the incredible duality of human nature, The Black Swan is a rich tapestry which is sure to be recognized as a masterpiece of fantasy.

Author Notes

Fantasy fiction author Mercedes Richie Lackey was born in Chicago on June 24, 1950, and she received a B.S. from Purdue University in 1972. She is also a professional lyricist and has rehabilitated raptors.

Lackey started writing her own short stories when her favorite science fiction and fantasy authors weren't producing new books fast enough for her. She began writing professionally with the encouragement of author C. J. Cherryh, whom Lackey had met at a science fiction convention. Many of Lackey's books, including the Queen's Own trilogy, the Vows and Honor series, Valdemar: family Spies, and the Last Herald-Mage and Mage Winds trilogies, take place in the imaginary world of Valdemar. She has authored numerous series, including the Bardic Voices series and a series of occult mysteries featuring Diana Tregarde, a modern-day witch. Lackey enjoys collaborating and has co-written books with authors such as C.J. Cherryh, Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mark Shepherd, and Ru Emerson. Her title Redoubt made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Lackey's latest juices up the plot of the ballet Swan Lake, which is very necessary, considering its original slightness, and quite successful. The sorcerer von Rothbart remains as evil as ever, a misogynist who exploits women. Prince Siegfried is young and rash, having been deliberately miseducated by his mother, the queen regent, who wishes to retain power. Odette, the princess enchanted into a swan, forces von Rothbart into the bargain that may free her and all the other ladies under enchantment. The character most changed and developed from the ballet is Odile, a sorceress in her own right, who comes to understand how her father, von Rothbart, uses her, and, because of that understanding, saves the day for all the enchanted souls. This is well-crafted Lackey, which means well-crafted period, fully appreciable without any prior knowledge. Few stalwart fantasy readers, however, don't know enough about the ballet to savor Lackey's ringing variations on it. Heartily recommended. --Roland Green

Library Journal Review

Condemned for her faithlessness to spend her life as a swanÄexcept for a few brief moonlit hours when she regains her human formÄPrincess Odette receives one chance to break the spell that binds her. Enmeshed in the schemes of a vengeful sorcerer and an ambitious queen, a na‹ve prince becomes the pawn in a malicious snare of magic, while the sorcerer's daughter questions her loyalty to a father who ignores her growing power. Basing her latest fantasy on the tragic ballet Swan Lake, Lackey (Oathblood, LJ 4/15/98) adds her own embellishments and interpretations to provide the story with a new ending. Though lacking the power and drama of the original tale, this romantic fantasy belongs in most fantasy collections and should appeal to the author's large following. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-In this novelization of the ballet "Swan Lake," Odile von Rothbart, daughter of a vengeful sorcerer, lives on an isolated medieval estate with her father's prisoners, unfaithful young women who are swans by day and human while the moon shines. Unexpectedly, after years of living without hope, the swan maidens are offered their freedom if the Swan Queen, Odette, can win the faithful love of an eligible prince. Themes of marital and filial (in)fidelity combine to create a dark and tension-filled coming-of-age story. The sorcerer is obsessed with punishing women he deems untrustworthy, while his daughter has spent her life trying in vain to win his approval and affection. Odile initially makes excuses for her father's dishonorable behavior, but is forced to view him honestly as the story progresses. The prince has long ignored his own avaricious and callous mother and all royal duties. Both Odile and the prince discover that the growing responsibilities of adulthood require that they examine their consciences and make painful choices about loyalty to friends and family and self-sacrifice. The callous use of women and theme of sexual fidelity combined with the moody romance and story of betrayal make for a compelling read.-Marsha Masone, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.