FANTASY FICTION ARC 2014-2015 Historical, Romantic, and Sagas. PRIMARY APPEAL: We had nine people respond. All nine had world-building (frame) as an element (8 in the #1 position). Eight listed character as one of the three appeal factors; and seven had storyline. Several people mentioned pacing (the thrill factor0, and Atmosphere or Tone. Several of us had magical or mystical elements which I would designate in the World-Building category.
1.WORLD-BUILDING (FRAME) needs: “to transport the reader to another world despite being fantasy is nonetheless believable;” “logical/consistent magic or physics of the world;” “creating a believable, new world as a setting/character in the story;” and “’Impossible World’ Building…the safe presentation of problems and solutions beyond our ordinary worlds.”
2.CHARACTERS need: “Without good characters, the best setting in the world won’t involve and sustain the reader;”…”I don’t believe this is any different than any other story, but in Fantasy where the characters may not be human, reader empathy/understanding is more important to the experience than it might me reading a mystery or general fiction.”
3.STORYLINE: Several of us want “the Quest” to drive the story and “to hang created world and good characters.” While “discovering and learning how to handle the unusual phenomena becomes part of the growth of the character,” but “the Quest” should “be more than the world and the cool stuff in it/happening to it; the protagonist (2) must have a larger reason for interacting with the world or a reason for changing themselves in their world.” In other words, I think the storyline has to real within the context of the world but also should stand by itself as a compelling plot line. Often magical and mythical beasts and their dilemmas are metaphorical and the story universal.
The pacing, tone, and literary quality of the writing may vary for individual readers.
Thank you to Jessica Atherton; Eileen Barrett; Michelle Deschene; Diane Giarusso; Louise Goldstein, Nanci Milone Hill; Jan Resnick; and Jim Riordan.
March 24, 2015
Fantasy Romance Benchmark: Nora Roberts’ Dark Witch.
Please read another title in this genre.
We will continue talking about our ballot in January, 2015 so think about where we should go next with our studies.
Buker, Derek M. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Guide to Cyborgs, Aliens and Sorcerers. ALA, 2002. “Fantasy Romance,” p. 194-197.
Herald, Diana Tixier. Fluent in Fantasy: A Guide to Reading Interests. LU, 2009. “Romantic Fantasy,” p. 169.
Keyser, Cathleen. “Ir’s Cold Outside…But It’s Heating Up in Here: New Romance Appeal Terms,” NoveList. EBSCO. 2014 (1/15/14)
Ramsdell, Kristin. Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre. 2nd ed., L.U. 2012. “Alternative Reality Romance.” p.312-318, 329, 348, 353.
See blog for previous Fantasy Handouts bibliography.
Please post Romantic Fantasy second title choices on the RA RT Blog:above at Submit 2nd Title Info.
Appeal to be read for January meeting: Focus on all the appeal factors, but really think about character and frame elements.
Suggestions for Fantasy Romance Fiction
Abe, Shana. The Smoke Thief. Drakon series
Bishop, Anne. Daughter of Blood. Black Jewels#1
Bretton, Barbara. Casting Spells. Sugar Maple series
Cameron, Stella. Out of Body. Court of Angels series. Urban Fantasy
Carroll, Susan. The Bride Finder. St. Leger Trilogy#1
Cole, Kresley. A Hunger Like No Other. Immortals After Dark series
Dodd, Christina. Scent of Darkness. Darkness Chosen series. Urban Fantasy
Kenyon, Sherrilyn. Fantasy Lover.
Krinard, Susan. The Forest Lord. Fane series
Kurland, Lynn. A Dance Through Time. Time Travel
Lackey, Mercedes. The Fairy Godmother. Five Hundred Kingdoms series
Liu, Marjorie M. Tiger Eye. Dirk & Steele series. Urban Fantasy
MacAlister, Katie. A Girl’s Guide to Vampires. Dark Ones series
Moning, Karen Marie. Darkfever. Fever series.
Putney, Mary Jo. The Marriage Spell.
Rice, Patricia. Merely Magic. Magic series#1
Thompson, Vicki Lewis. Over Hexed. Hex series
York, Rebecca. Killing Moon. Moon series
Minutes for NE RART; March 24, 2015 Peabody Institute Library, Danvers Recorded by Louise Goldstein, Waltham Public Library.
Attendees: Leane Ellis, Chair, Beebe Library, Lisa Baylis, Groton Public Library, Meena Jain, Bacon Free Library, Tatjana Saccio, Nevins Memorial Library, Shelley Quezada, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, Michelle Deschene-Warren, Peabody Institute Library, Danvers, James Riordan, Peabody Institute Library, Danvers, Louise M. Goldstein, Waltham Public Library, Eileen Barrett, Reading Public Library, Jessica Atherton, Newburyport Public Library.
Game of Thrones will be the Benchmark for May.
Leane will be sending out a ballot about structure for the next couple of years. She would like to see more nonfiction. Perhaps things like: popular history, current events, true crime, nature survival. May put then in an arc where one leads to the other. There has been a lot of feedback asking for a mystery arc.
Romance and science fiction keep coming back. We need to work on genres that we have issues with. Adrenaline Fiction: Girl On A Train everyone is touting this like it’s Gone Girl but it is by no means the same. Maybe could add Lee Child type thrillers for this genre.
If we go for a lot of ARCS we might interrupt the structure. LGBT over the summer; benchmarks from either genre. Maybe make a third choice. Could throw in YA; some suggestions to do a YA Arc.
Shelley Quezada: Beyond the Rainbow Booklist: two people are coming to speak during MLA on Monday.
Maybe dystopian or graphic novels again. Possibly political leader biography before the election. Possible historical fiction and nonfiction pairings. The ballot will be coming [Leane’s note: by the end of April.]
First, we talked about our benchmark novel:
- by Nora Roberts
Leane has read the entire trilogy. She needed to know what happened for the purposes of this exercise. What Roberts did for character development made sense for the trilogy.
Question about Magic vs. Romantic
Meena: She reads her trilogies sometimes and felt that this one was relatively weak for her. The characters and the magick did not seem to go together. Meena feels that Roberts is generally a strong writer. “She has formulas” and they work.
Shelly: Her first Nora Roberts novel. She feels that when people want this sort of novel, the formula works for them. They like the comfort factor.
Eileen: This is her first Nora Roberts. She felt that the writing was poor. She felt that this was a bit stale.
Lisa: She likes the magick and having the rookie “witch”. She listened to this in the car and was wonderful with the brogues.
James: Pictured Sorcha as having a Scottish accent because of the writing.
Leane: Romance reflects the reader’s need for some sort of relationship closure.
Jessica: This is a little bit of a different trope. Not meant to be ridiculous. The author is selling a myth.
Louise: was not impressed with the setting, the use of magick, or the formulaic nature of the book.
James: saying that this would appeal to Irish Americans. “I will go back to the homeland and be happy.” He had an uncle who went back and found out that his ancestors were actually poachers!
The fantasy of staying in a castle hotel in Ireland will appeal to a lot of readers. The bucolic setting, the fantasy dog, horse and hawk. You want to turn the pages.
Things would be very different if one were going to Dublin.
Tatjana: A little disappointed with the ending.
Leane: Each book gets more and more fraught with tension.
The second book doesn’t usually do what they wanted. The third book provides closure. Leane was disappointed at the ending. The ending has to be satisfactory. She does feel safe about the characters as far as the magick is concerned. Thought it was too fast. You’ve got the romance to finish up. People who read trilogies are already assuming that book 2 will be a bridge. This book was fantasy romance NOT a romance fantasy.
Leane liked the characters, liked that the magick was inherited. From the get go she knew that each time they failed they would have to learn. This was always conceived as a book with three parts and the rules about how the magick would work. When you get to the third book, you learn what the rule would be. [Leane’s note: Like most Romance series, the world remains the same but each 2nd & 3rd characters get their own story and romance in subsequent titles in the series. Characters’ relationship drives the story; Magick fantasy provides the primary conflict with the relationships providing the secondary conflict in each book.]
Lisa: Sometimes thinks of a trilogy as a three course meal.
Not always the same readers on these as on Roberts’ annual “big book”. There are differences in the Nora Roberts characters. Very rarely is the evil or the good subtle. We could do an entire arc on Nora Roberts.
Fantasy Romance: Great world building, relationships have to work, interesting side characters. The conflict of the romance; will it be or not? The magick may drive the story. The pace has to move right along but can’t be rushed. Creating the dramatic tension and the sexual tension.
The ensemble characters are already voicing what you could already see with Iona and Boyle. There is world building, relationships, (historical; sometimes based on a reality that we already know).
Eileen: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas Beautiful Caelina Sardothian has been a trained assassin since she was eight. She was sentenced as a slave to the salt mines. She gets a proposition from the Crown Prince to be the King’s champion. She will kill for the King for six years and then perhaps be freed. Only one person will get their freedom. Two men love her. She’s gorgeous and looks like a fairy princess. Nice pace. You relate to her and want her to win. Not well written. The book has suspense and a handsome prince; no sex. Read alikes: The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins, Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Jessica: The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, Book 1 the fracturing of the fairy tale. Elena, an apprentice fairy godmother, loses her temper with a prince who is “acting like an ass”, so she turns him into one. She takes him home and puts him to work transforming his life. Mercedes Lackey writes a lot with her husband. Readalikes include: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Louise: The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey, Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, Book 4 .This is a delicious fairy tale sketched out with lots of description and world building. Aleksia, the Snow Queen, is getting a bit bored with her day to day fairy godmother duties. She has to leave her Ice Castle to stop a destructive impostor. Lovely plot that moves right along, nice steady pacing, lots of magic and imagination, and satisfying non graphic romance. Heartily recommended for everyone who enjoyed fairy tales as a child. See above for readalike suggestions.
Lisa: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern The author is from Salem, Massachusetts and this is her first book. A circus appears out of nowhere. There are two very elderly magicians. Their magic is real and it builds. You don’t know the rules. Two magicians weren’t as built up as some of the other characters. You care about the characters in the book.
The fantastical nature of the circus is very appealing. The book goes back and forth between time and place. The book takes you through the tent as if you are really there. Someone has already purchased the film rights. There is a contrived ending. This is one of those books that make you want to discuss the question of what is literary fiction. There is romance and you keep your eye on the two characters while still making sense of a striated plot. The author was 36 years old when this book came out.
Shelley: The Marriage Spell by Mary Jo Putney This book is almost like a Regency Romance. The author studied 18th century literature and industrial design. The main character romances a gentleman who is in Wellington’s army. He breaks his neck and has to be put together again. The deal is that the prince is offered healing for marriage. They get married and actually do fall in love! Good pacing, pretty good writing.
Meena has read Mary Jo Putney’s historical novels.
Leane: Relationship; the fixed marriage; bumpy ride to romance at the end. LJ gave good reviews. This book is more of a romance with fantastical elements. Regency readers will not forgive bad regency. Putney entertains and gives a well written book about whatever time and place she has decided upon.
Meena: Reads a lot of romance-Katie McCallister-likes humor or a couple that connects right away. Meena selected McCallister’s title, You Slay Me. The main character can control demons. Situations created so that she can be funny. This felt a bit contrived. The daemon that she calls comes in the form of a dog that is always licking his balls! She’s in trouble throughout the entire book but nobody ever pegs her. “Manufactured snark” but the other characters are organic.
Meena recommends: Nalini Singh. This New Zealand author always creates characters that “always have each other’s back”.
Meena also recommends: Kresley Cole—Immortals After Dark. “Very hot, great world building, overarching arcs.”
And: Molly Harper “Snarky Romance with bite”. Funny. A librarian who accidentally gets turned into a vampire.
And: Jeanine Frost: “Funny”.
Tatjana: A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland. This is a light, entertaining time travel romance. Elizabeth falls asleep in Gramercy Park in 1996 and is thrust backwards in time into handsome Jamie’s arms. This is pretty humorous. A lot of talk about medieval smells; bad breath, etc. A little back and forth with the romance. They go back to contemporary time and Jamie is the fish out of water; meeting her family, for example. Lots of humorous banter between the two. Jamie getting homesick for his own time; Jamie seeing contemporary surgery. The book is a little family oriented; blood family and clan family. Read Alike: Connie Willis Doomsday Book Time travel book.
Jim: Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan Set in the kingdom of Xyian, towns, castles, an army of infantry at war with a group of horse archers. The main character, Xylara, was trained as a healer. She cures boatloads of Xy soldiers who keep getting sent back to war. She even treats the enemy Firelanders. She is given to the Firelander Warlord as a war prize. There is romance in the air. The plot revolves around cultural differences. There is the possibility that there might be magic somewhere. The culture seems to take the place of the magic in driving the romance forward. She hates him; she likes him; we have sex; she actually does like him; there is sex; very chaste. What does this draw on? Seems like medieval Byzantine Turkish. The pacing is pretty fast. Jim would read the rest of this series.
What percentage of the readers of these fantasy romance readers are women? Probably mostly women readers.
Michelle: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen Hook feels that he has totally atoned for past sins. Stella discovers a warm man who has paid for past mistakes. His arrogance has been ground down to dust. Hook’s first person narration is appealing. Neverland is pure fantasy from top to bottom. The romance is predestined. For readalikes: Robin McKinley, Angela Carter, Jodi Lynn Anderson’s novel Tiger Lily (fairies play a much more magical role in this novel). Michelle was picturing Colin O’Donoghue in the role of Hook while reading the lyrical and lush writing of Ms. Jensen. Michelle notes that there is a lot of Pan stuff coming out.
The Night Gardener is an awesome story about story’s [role in our lives–YA tile.]
Leane: Not too many fantasy romances or romantic fantasies that have a lot of male characters [as protagonists]. There are a lot of fantasy saga writers who do have a lot of male characters; such as Jim Butcher.
All About Romance is a great website for romance. Not like the Romantic Times which has thousands of reviewers.
Leane: Darkest Kiss by Gena Showalter This book has a sexy tone and frame; steamy, explicity. There is earthmoving sex; tormented emotions. A pantheon of the Underworld and the Greek Gods. This book does a decent job of explaining Greek Gods. An intriguing world; very explicit, sometimes vulgar. This book has more romance than fantasty and is more towards erotica.
Next meeting is: Tuesday, May 26th 2015; 9:45-12:00N
Tewksbury Public Library
300 Chandler Street; Tewksbury
A Hunger Like No Other – Kresley Cole
Appeal Factors: Fast paced, steamy, paranormal
I think Cole’s book will appeal to readers who are attracted to the danger and romance of paranormal characters without too much world building. It plunges into the action from the first page and doesn’t let up. The power dynamics in the relationship between Lachlain and Emma will attract fans of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Fantasy Lover – Kenyon, Sherrilyn
Appeal Factors: Fast paced; Character – genre stereotypes; language – engaging if somewhat anachronistic; Story – character-driven; Frame – New Orleans, contemporary
As a wine-induced birthday romp, currently celibate sex therapist Grace is persuaded to call down Julian of Macedon, an ancient Spartan warrior cursed to be a love-slave for eternity. When Julian appears, Grace discovers that he, in addition to being a serious hunk, is a complex man with some very real Greek Pantheon problems. American Gods meets All My Children.
- Dark Hunter novels #1
- Similar authors/stories: Christine Feighan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Nora Roberts – The Hollow, Karen Marie Moning
The Marriage Spell – Mary Jo Putney
Appeal Factors: Pace – fast; Characterizations – unconventional heroine, good
secondary characters; Language – engaging; Story – character-driven; Tone –
atmospheric; Frame – 1813, Leicestershire.
Jack Langdon, Lord Frayne, is a King’s officer and a dare devil, but very lucky. On the hunting field, a bad fall renders him paralyzed and near death. The nearest healer is one of magical abilities and magic is anathema to the aristocracy, especially to Jack. She agrees to heal him in return for marriage – he’d always been attractive to her. Abigail heals his heart as well as his body. Working together they restore his life and lands and his buried link to magic. HEA. Magic makes the healing and resolution a little too easy.
- Similar authors: Isobel Cooper – Lessons after Dark, Steven Brust & Emma Bull – Freedom & Necessity, Bujold – The Sharing Knife, Carroll – St. Leger Series
Warprize – Elizabeth Vaughan
Appeal Factors: Setting, pacing medium, lots of detail, slow-burn romance
Warprize is the first book in Vaughan’s Chronicles of the Warlands. The main character is Lara, a healer and a princess of the land of Xy. Xy is at war with an army of nomadic horse warriors known as the Firelanders, and losing very badly. As a healer, Lara gives aid to both Xyians and Firelanders alike. So when her half brother the king surrenders to the Warlord of the Firelanders, she is demanded as the “Warprize” (aka slave) of the Warlord.
The story revolves around the culture clash between Lara and the Warlord and Xy and the Firelanders. The emphasis from the start of the book is on the setting (which is vaguely reminiscent of the conflict between the Byzantines and the Turkish tribes that invaded Asia Minor in the Middle Ages). Vaughan spends a great deal of time on the detail of the world: Everything from how the Xy and the Firelanders live to their religions, the food they each eat, languages and of course love. Interestingly enough there is no overt magic (at least in this book) but their is a great deal of mysticism. The romance component builds slowly over the course of the story as Lara’s and the Warlord’s relationship grows. You see the give and take between two people from different cultures who don’t really understand but grudgingly respect each other.
I think the appeal of this story is the fantasy and the subtlety with which the romance is mixed in. I’d recommend this to people who really love fantasy romance but don’t want to be beaten over the head with the romance right out of the gate. Patrons who like complex words and detailed settings will also enjoy this book.
The Darkest Kiss – Gena Showalter (Lords of the Underworld; bk.2)
Appeal Factors: Character/Sexy Tone/Frame
Lucien, the incarnation of death, the merciless Lord of the Underworld is ordered by the King of Gods, Cronus, to claim and kill Anya the goddess of Anarchy. Their uncontrollable attraction becomes an anguished pursuit. Steamy and explicit, this series leans heavily on the language and description of the seduction, the great quantity of frustrating then earth-moving sex, and the tormented romantic emotions of its two main characters. As many series in this genre, each episode contains a happier-ever-after ending for the two main characters. The other characters in the pantheon of the Underworld and Greek gods will give other books in the series ample material for more erotic adventures. The author does a decent job explaining the mythological world these characters exist in with all its magical rules. Better for fans of Romance with fantasy elements than Fantasy fans who want Romance as part of the plot. The author gives us a predictable plot but has created very compelling and attractive main characters, as well as an intriguing world built on Greek mythology. And it contains over-the-top ST (sexual tension), very explicit sometimes vulgar descriptions of their sexual relationship with just enough emotional context to make it more Romance than pure Erotica. Yep, I’d read another one or two…
A good readalike for Kresley Cole, this author would also appeal to fans of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series; Elisabeth Naughton’s Eternal Guardians series, and Caris Roane’s Deadly Angels series.
The Smoke Thief – Shana Abe
Appeal Factors: frame/setting: historical London, rural England), characters: strong female and male lead; magical creatures/shape-shifting; god-like. Pacing: fast; dialogue-heavy with some description of place. Tone: air of mystery and myth-in-making; HEA
A fast-paced steamy (fairly explicit but not graphic) historical romance for those who like myth, magical creatures, jewel thievery, strong women and some sense of place. Good for those who like myths and legends, but not for those who want a retelling of a traditional mythology – this is new stuff. POV is split between male and female lead, with occasional input from one other character. Historical set pieces, e.g. masked ball, masters/servant relationships etc.
A Dance Through Time – Lynn Kurland
Appeal Factors: Character, Tone-humorous, and Frame/Setting- 14c Scotland and contemporary Scotland
Elizabeth Smith falls asleep in Gramercy Park, NYC in 1996 thinking of 14th century Scotland and the Laird of the MacLeod Clan only to find herself thrust backward in time and into handsome Laird Jamie’s arms. Mutual attraction and admiration finally overcome their frustration with each other and the two come together. To preserve the natural progression of time, they travel from the magical forest back to modern Scotland and Elizabeth’s family. Additional tension comes from an aggressive relation of Jamie’s who desires Elizabeth and has discovered the use of the magical forest to travel in time and wreak havoc in the Scottish history annals.
The tone is quite humorous as both main characters are “fish out of water” in different eras in addition to the regular romantic, saucy banter. Kurland takes care to add some historical details to remind the reader which time period they are in but they do not distract from the easy flow of the plot/storyline. The theme of family and belonging, including both blood kin and clansmen, runs throughout the book and in both time periods.
This will be an entertaining read for someone who likes their romance and fantasy on the light side.
Alias Hook – Lisa Jensen
Appeal Factors: Character; Frame; Tone
James Hookbridge has been cursed to an eternity of waging war against sharp-toothed boys in the Neverland. Wholly weary of it, he has but one desire left to him, and that is for Death to find and take him at His earliest convenience. For a permanent ceasefire; the game board cleared and put away; to never again see a flock of boys winging towards his ship, manned by a hapless crew of former Lost Boys who’ve returned to the Neverland after the grown-up real world chewed them up and spat them out. After hundreds of years of watching Pan’s pack slaughter his revolving crew, never able to change the outcome of the battle or simply sail away, Hook believes he has well and truly atoned for past sins. When he finds a fully-grown woman in the forest, something Pan would never allow, he mistakes her for an angel of death, thinking his time has finally, blessedly come.
Stella Parrish, a former Wendy, suffered heavy losses in the real world she returned to after her stint in the Neverland came to its inevitable end. Heart-deep in sadness, Stella follows an insistent pull, like something or someone needs her and is tugging on the line that connects them, and manages to find her way back to that fabled land built on childish dreams. Once there, she stumbles into the path of a band of pirates, led by none other than the fearsome Captain Hook. Stella soon discovers beneath the plumed hat and tired bluster a warm, intelligent man, who learns from the prideful mistakes he still makes; a man who has long since paid for his crimes and earned a happy ending of his own.
Jensen paints Hook in a softer shade of Byronic hero. He doesn’t entirely fit the mold, because when we meet him his arrogance has been ground down to dust, any rebelliousness he once felt strikes in lightning flashes he mostly ignores, and he struggles with both the light and dark nature of his humanity. Hook recognizes the foolish caricature he’s become, and even as he plays to it, he hates himself for doing so, and in short order you want to wrap him up in one of his foppish, wildly out-of-fashion coats to keep him safe and well out of Pan’s reach.
The biggest appeal factor, then, is character. Hook is the standout, but Stella and Jesse, one of Hook’s doomed crew members, are also well-drawn and compelling. The Neverland is pure fantasy, from top to bottom. It is familiar and not, as Jensen puts her own spin on the island’s inhabitants—the mermaids, the fairies, and Indian tribe—creating a fresh dynamic. The romance is, in turn, sweet and angsty, simultaneously chaste and erotic, and touched by predestiny, though the ending is neither pat nor routine.
Suggest Alias Hook to readers who enjoy the work of Juliet Marillier, Robin McKinley, Tanith Lee, Patricia McKillip, and Angela Carter. That is to say, to those who enjoy lush, descriptive writing; atmospheric world-building; and characters who sink a grappling hook into the reader’s heart. For others like me, who devour all things Peter Pan related (including Colin O’Donoghue’s Captain Hook on ABC’s Once Upon a Time) and crave another readalike more closely tied to Barrie’s original, I’d suggest Jodi Lynn Anderson’s excellent young adult novel, Tiger Lily.
Throne of Glass – Sara J. Maas
Appeal Factors: Danger, suspense, action oriented with a handsome prince, a lowly but lovely maiden who just so happens to be an assassin, the hint of romance with 2 men vying for the same woman.
Trained as an assassin since the age of 8, the beautiful Celaena Sardothien, the most notorious assassin in Adarlan, is summoned by Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard. For the past year she has been a slave in the Endovier Salt Mines, a notorious prison where most only last a month and none leave alive. Havilliard has a proposition, in exchange for her freedom she must become his father’s, the king’s, champion – his personal assassin – to kill for him for 6 years, after which she will be freed. To become his champion she must compete against 23 other would be champions where in the end only the victor will remain alive. The competition consists of a series of tests that progressively get harder and more dangerous. If Celaena wins the competition she is to become the assassin to the very man she hates and despises for he sent her to Endovier. Shortly after she arrives at the castle Celaena encounters a villain even greater than the king; there is an evil magical force in the castle and one by one it is brutally mauling and murdering the other competitors. Now she must stop this force before it threatens to destroy her one chance for freedom.