Princess Odette and Odile from 'The Black Swan Picture

I recently read this book and it was pretty good. One of Mercedes Lackey's better novels based on a fairy-tale. It's a re-interpretation of "Swan Lake," and is mostly told from Odile's point of view.

In this story, Odile is a young sorceress studying the same magic as her father, Baron von Rothbart. Odile's one true desire has always been to have her father's approval, though she's never really gotten it from him (mostly due to Rothbart being an evil, arrogant, misogynistic, power-mad jerk in addition to being a powerful sorcerer). Rothbart feels it's his duty to punish unfaithful & traitorous women, and those he finds he usually plants a curse on them to turn them into swans by day & they become women at night by light of the moon. He then imprisons the poor girl on his estate. It's usually Odile's job to tend to the swan-maidens living in the castle gardens. It isn't until the Queen of the Swans, Princess Odette, challenges Rothbart and they make a bet that if she can keep the loyalty of a man for a month, he will undo the curse on the swan-maidens. If not, they'll be doomed to live out their lives that way. He then takes the swans & Odile on a long trip to a faraway kingdom.

During the journey Odile learns a great deal about her own strengths in magic, in addition to befriending the swan-maidens and feeling sympathy for them in their plight. She's all for letting them all become permanent humans again if it means she & her father can travel the world without the burden of caring for the swans. Little does Odile know what her father truly has in mind.

In the kingdom the group is headed for is an aging, evil, power-hungry Queen who plots to keep the throne in spite of her son, Prince Siegfried, coming of age, getting married, & being crowned king. Prince Siegfried originally was a spoiled, irresponsible lecher, until a religious experience causes him to reform his ways. The Queen grows worried when the court actually starts to like the prince, and she sets up a big outing event that includes 6 prospective princesses for the prince to choose from. She also makes a deal with Rothbart to include his daughter Odile with the prospective brides, pleased at the idea to have a sorcerer close at hand in court.

While hunting swan, Prince Siegfried comes upon Odette & watches her transform into a human, and once he sees her, it's love at first sight. Odile is most pleased, but she soon learns that all is not what it seems with her father & his plans to take revenge on the Queen or cheat at the pact he made with Odette. It's up to Odile to see if she has the power and resources to set things right in the end.

I used Azalea's goddess-maker [link] to re-create 2 of the major characters for the novel. Odile is on the right, and she's described as being beautiful, and very pale with very long, silvery hair. She's mostly very quiet, intelligent, and a shrewd observer in the story. She mostly wears black in the book to set off her looks in addition to symbolize the fact that she's a sorceress. Unlike Odette or the other swan-maidens, Odile not only can transform back & forth from being a swan to a human any time she wants, but she changes into a black swan, rather than a white one like the swan-maidens do.

Odette is on the left and was described as being a pale blond beauty with dark blue eyes & a regal demeanor. She was also kind & gentle to the other swan-maidens, and they looked up to her. She was the most refined & intelligent of the swan-maidens, and whenever she changed into a swan, you could tell her from the others b/c she wore a gold necklace with a crown-shaped pendant around her neck. Unlike some of the swan-maidens, Odette's betrayal didn't come in the form of adultery. Her father had sworn to her dying mother that he would not wed Odette to a man she didn't like, and then turned around & did it anyway once her mother was gone. So Odette ran away from home with the help of a palace servant. Rothbart didn't really seem to care that it was ODETTE being betrayed. He only saw the princess's betrayal of her father & saw her as a perfect candidate for one of his swans, hence the kidnapping & cursing her.

Both women wear simple silk gowns when in human form, for Odile described the garments as being the easiest to conjure on the swan-maidens (as well as herself) when they became human at night.

A lot of ladies LOVE the swan costume Odile is wearing on the front cover (and yes, she did wear it in the book). More than once I've seen pictures of the costume being duplicated for either full-grown women, or being re-created for One-Of-A-Kind dolls to wear.
Continue Reading: Ages of Man