No One Noticed the Cat - Anne McCaffrey My dad liked Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series way back when. After getting bit by the fantasy bug, I inherited his interest in this author. I figured that this book might be a good introduction before tackling the famous series--plus the story sounded interesting.

Plot:
Esphania's regent has died and apparently left much of his skills to his cat, Niffy. This is good because Niffy will need everything she can to protect Prince Jamas and his new wife, Princess Willow of Mauritia, from being killed by the evil Queen Yasmin of Mauritia.

Good:
Anne McCaffrey knows what she is doing. Writing is definitely her forte. The writing is crisp, clear, and clean. She knows when to be serious, when to be funny, when to be somber, and when to have an uplifting moment.
Furthermore, the story does not drag. The pace is brisk and appropriate for a slim 182 page book. There are some downfalls to this (not much character development and the feel that the novel is actually a short story), but overall, good.
I enjoyed how Prince Jamas was first attracted to Salinah, but when he realized what a snob she was, he was not interested. Too many stories do the "love at first sight" thing so it becomes old and boring, but McCaffrey has taken it and twisted it most delightfully.
Lastly, the characters do not undergo unusual transformations within the 182 pages of this book.

Bad:
A book being small can be good and bad. If the story is not "large" enough for a 300+ page treatment, 180+ pages is a good size. However, I feel this story did not have enough room; that too much had to be glossed over in order to fit the page requirement. The plot had to be super-condensed, and I was never adequately satisfied with the explanation given for the many men's deaths (how would Queen Yasmin have been able to continually add poison to clothes, boots, etc.? And how did Solesne suddenly come to this conclusion?).
Another bad thing was I got the impression from reading the back of the book that Niffy would be a signif-"cat" character. Alas, she was not. Many pages are devoted to Prince Jamas, who never really elevates about the playboy image portrayed within the first 20 or so pages (throughout his entire engagement to Willow, all he can think of is bedding her, which they do by sneaking off during their wedding reception). Instead, Niffy is only mentioned when her "action" sequences are being written. This was disappointing for me, but does not necessarily make the book bad (just makes me mad at the back flap writers!).
Prince Jamas was not the only flat character in this book. Most of the other characters (and boy, are there a lot) are whisked in and given a few adjectives before they fade back into oblivion. Willow was "worried", Salinah was a snob, Fanina was wicked, Yasmin treacherous, Grenejon faithful, and so on and so forth. I will allow McCaffrey some slack as the book is short, but I for one would prefer a longer book if it meant better characters.
And not so many characters! In a book so short, there are probably 20+ characters! When I took writing classes, I was told that short stories should have no more than 3 main characters and very few secondary characters. In this almost short story, we have Prince Jamas, Grenejon, Frennery, Salinah, Willow, Laurel, Fanina, Solesne, Moxtel and sons, Prince Jamas' cousin, Edgril, Yasmin, Niffy, Mavron and his brother, and Fennell (and I am sure I missed another of the prince's equerries). By my count, this is 20 characters! And when most of them are barons and countesses, it gets confusing about which countess--whether it is Fanina or Solesne--they are talking about. And for the longest time, I thought Grenejon and Baron Illify were two different people.
Another trouble I had was determining if this was a "medieval" style book or a "future" style book. I mean, crossbows are used in one scene and in yet another, a pneumatic microphone system. Hmmm... Also, a woman is mentioned being "pregnant" (modern term; in medieval times, it would have been "with child") and yet mention is made of "dowries", a fairly old-fashioned concept. I mean, perhaps this is another world in another solar system, but I think McCaffrey could have included some reference to orient the reader.
Also, some parts of the book are very, extremely cheesy almost dumbed down for a much younger audience. Prince Jamas holds Willow's hand once and proposes to her practically the same night? Niffy's full name is "Magnifi-cat"? Niffy can save Prince Jamas from an animal 10 times her size and come out almost unscathed? A double marriage? And the end--well, that's another story...
Lastly, although this is very lame, I was upset at one particular scene. Prince Jamas and the team have snuck above Queen Yasmin's bedchamber at night as she is furiously sneezing. The prince then proceeds to say how unattractive the small woman is with her disheveled hair, her running nose, her eyes watering, her loud sneezes and in her voluminous nightclothes. I found this very insulting. I am sure his wife would not be that attractive if she was awaken in the middle of the night and ferociously allergic to something in the room. I am sure that her hair would be a disaster, that her clothes would be frumpled, and she might even have been drooling! As for loud sneezes, most people I know don't do the little mouse "too's" that apparently are so cute to Prince Jamas. I would be one such person who ferociously sneezes--does that, then, make me unattractive? Such comments, which were meant to make Yasmin look more evil, actually made me sympathetic to her and wished that Prince Jamas would be cursed to look like the Beast!

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Curses are alluded to. Anne McCaffrey tactfully references sexual situations, but their frequency is alarmingly high (particularly when related to the prince and his many "encounters"). Violence includes several husbands/fathers/brothers/cousin's deaths and a woman being scratched.

Overall:
This is Anne McCaffrey, of Dragonriders of Pern fame? Hmmm...I will have to check out her Pern series to get a real feel for this woman. This book, while a quick, easy read, and certainly not unenjoyable, is still not what I expected from this renown woman. A sound 3 stars.