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The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters, Book 1) Hardcover – March 1, 2001
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Mercedes Lackey returns to form in The Serpent's Shadow, the fourth in her sequence of reimagined fairy tales. This story takes place in the London of 1909, and is based on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Lackey creates echoes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, pays affectionate homage to Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey (who plays an important role under a thin disguise), and turns the dwarves into seven animal avatars who masquerade as pets of her Eurasian heroine, Maya.
Some of Maya's challenges come from the fact that she is not "snow white," and she has fled India for her father's English homeland after the suspicious deaths of her parents. Establishing her household in London, she returns to her profession as a physician, working among the poor. Her "pets" and loyal servants stand guard, and Maya herself uses what bits of magic she managed to pick up in childhood to weave otherworldly defenses as well. But the implacable enemy who killed her parents has come to London to search for her; if Maya can be enslaved, her enormous potential powers can be used to the enemy's ends. Fortunately, English magicians of the White Lodge have also noted a new, powerful presence in their midst, though they're having trouble locating her, too. They send Peter Scott, a Water Master, to track her down. He finds Maya beautiful and benign, and is determined to teach her to use the Western magic she is heir to, before her enemy discovers her.
Some will find the author's Kiplingesque descriptions of India and Hindustani culture offensive. Lackey describes Maya's enemy as a powerful devotee of the goddess Kali-Durga, though she carefully shows that the avatars of the other deities will not attack her, and has Kali-Durga repudiate her servant in the climactic confrontation. And, though the story is layered, its surface is as glossy and brightly colored as an action comic. But readers who enjoy late Victorian London, Sayers, Sherlock Holmes stories, and a page-turning tale will want to take this one home. --Nona Vero
From Library Journal
As a physician operating among London's poor in the early years of the 20th century, Dr. Maya Witherspoon has two strikes against her her gender and her status as the half-breed daughter of an Englishman and a Hindu woman. The magic she possesses, however, assists her not only in her work but also in fighting off an assassin bent on destroying her through the use of dark powers. The author of the popular "Valdemar" series turns her hand to historical fantasy in this intriguing and compelling re-creation of England in the waning days of its imperial glory. (This is also the first volume in a new three-book series inspired by classic fairy tales.) A good choice for Lackey's large readership as well as fans of period fiction.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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I particularly liked that Snow White (Maya)'s mother refused to teach her daughter Eastern magic insisting that the daughter had her father's Western magic and needed to be taught by a Westerner instead. Turns out, of course, Maya has both but her mother had wanted to keep her hidden from mom's evil twin sister [this story's evil stepmother].
Very lush, exotic atmosphere PLUS the world of the Elemental Masters! Highly recommended!
Once again Mercedes Lackey has woven an interesting tale of magic, love and intrigue. The Elemental Masters series never fails to bring the world of early 20th century Britain to life.
I was highly disappointed.
If you have not read The Fire Rose, this would not be such a bad read. Simple, light story with simple, light characters. The good people are only good and the bad people are only bad. No gray areas. Still a little boring for me but nothing wrong with the writing.
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Good vs bad magic.
I love to read her books when I need to escape the ugliness of today's times.Read more