Alexia lives in a snow castle in the far North and is one of many Godmothers, magically gifted individuals tasked with making sure that stories have happy outcomes rather than end tragically. The force known as Tradition will try to twist events into legendary stories, just as often as not with unhappy endings, and if no one keeps an eye out and intercedes and manipulates gently, a lot more individuals will end up in horrible messes than with happily ever afters.
Popularly known as The Snow Queen, Alexia is a Godmother especially skilled in mirror magic, and also seems to be the one in charge of "Be careful what you wish for". She has a reputation for being cold as the ice she lives among, emotionless and heartless. Only her fellow Godmothers know that this is just an act. She specialises in taking talented, selfish and arrogant young men, who Tradition, if left to run its course uninterrupted, could turn wicked and evil, away to her castle. There they're given everything they might want except company and hopefully, after weeks in icy solitude, come to discover that what they'd much rather have is the love of the pretty young girl they usually took completely for granted before Alexia showed up and swept them away in her ice sled. While the young men are taught humility and kindness, the young lady is sent on a rescue quest, where the Godmother can put enough obstacles in her path that the girl builds self-confidence and learns to fend for herself, ensuring that she won't let her arrogant beloved treat her as a doormat once they are reunited.
While acting out yet another variation of the above drama, Alexia discovers that someone else in the North is claiming to be the Snow Queen, and has left death and destruction in her wake, and seems to be kidnapping young men. Eager to clear her name quickly, lest Tradition turn any number of Heroes and Champions onto her doorstep eager to kill her and avenge the crimes of this other woman, Alexia needs to leave her remote palace and take a much more active part in proceedings than she's used to.
In alternating chapters, the book follows Alexia, but also two women determined to track down the false Snow Queen and rescue a young man. Annouka and Kaari, mother and fiancee to the last victim of the impostor, have magics of their own, and are not content to accept that he is lost to them. They set out on a quest to rescue the young man, and eventually meet up with Alexia, joining forces to achieve their goals.
This is the fourth in [a:Mercedes Lackey|8685|Mercedes Lackey|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1215643156p2/8685.jpg]'s 500 Kingdoms
series, where she takes elements of various fairy tales, folk tales and various myths and re-imagines them into new and entertaining stories. The books are stand alone, and can be read out of order, but the story device of the Tradition and the Godmothers is very well set up in the first book of the series, [b:The Fairy Godmother|13982|The Fairy Godmother (Five Hundred Kingdoms, #1)|Mercedes Lackey|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347732340s/13982.jpg|16082], so anyone confused by aspects of this one, or interested in starting at the beginning, would do well to pick that one up. Enjoyable as this and several of the others I've read are, I don't think any of them are quite as much fun as that one. 3.5 stars