As the only child of a powerful sorcerer, Odile Von Rothbart has studied the magical arts under her father's stern tutelage all her life. Yet she feels only fear toward him. For considering his wife's untimely death the ultimate betrayal, Baron Von Rothbart scours the land in the shape of a great bird of prey. His personal mission is to capture women who arouse his wrath and inspire his rage for vengeance against all womankind. These poor souls he turns into swans - forcing them to spend their lives as beautiful but powerless animals who only regain their human forms briefly each night by the transitory light of the moon.
Yet through Odile is terrified of him, she has learned far more than her father, the baron, intended to teach her - both of the magical arts and of Von Rothbar's idiosyncratic nature. And both as a woman and the guardian of his swan flock, her heart goes out to each and every young maiden ensorcelled by her vindictive father.
And then the noblest of Von Rothbart's enchanted flock, the Princess Odette, finds the courage to confron her captor, wresting from him a pact which could lead to freedom for herself and all the swan-maidens. Knowing Von Rothbart will use all of his magical cunning to avoid honoring this pact, will Odile have the strength to face him in a final magical confrontation which, if she fails, will lead to her death and the murder of all in her flock?
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Mercedes Ritchie Lackey (born 1950) is an American writer of fantasy novels. Many of her novels and trilogies are interlinked and set in the world of Velgarth, mostly in and around the country of Valdemar. Her Valdemar novels form a complex tapestry of interaction between human and non-human protagonists with many different cultures and social mores.
Her other main world is one much like our own, but it includes clandestine populations of elves, mages, vampires, and other mythical beings. The Bedlam's Bard books describe a young man with the power to work magic through music; the SERRAted Edge books are about racecar driving elves; and the Diana Tregarde thrillers center on a Wiccan who combats evil.
She has also