Plot summary – Isabella Harton and her husband run a school for the Talented children whose parents live abroad, providing magical training but also a warm home and genuine love. When Sarah and Nan are welcomed into the school, they bring with them terrible danger – Sarah is a young necromancer, whose gifts make her a target for all those who would abuse her power.
This is the fifth book in the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey, a set of amazing books that usually involve a person who is unaware they have an unusual control over a particular element. The Wizard of London is different in that it is the only book in the series to involve Talents – gifts that are weaker than those who can control Elementals, but powerful nevertheless.
To help her charges, Isabella must reconnect with her old circle of friends – all of whom are Elemental Masters and refuse to believe that the danger comes from one of their own.
My terrible summary really doesn’t do the book justice at all – it’s much less YA-sounding and wishy-washy than that. Instead, it’s a powerful story of dark magic, Indian protectors and Elemental Magic. The style is quite formal but the dialogue flows naturally and the descriptions are beautiful. I’ve read many criticisms of Mercedes Lackey, but I’ve never read a single one that can fault her style.
My one gripe with this book is Nan, the only unlikeable character in the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong – Ms. Lackey is the Queen of Characterisation. Her players always feel fully-rounded and somehow real, but Nan winds me up every time I read this book and I don’t think that was the author’s intention. I find her jealous, whiny and selfish and it irritates me how she gets so much more praise than Sarah, who is meant to be more powerful. A small niggle, but it pokes at me insistently throughout.
I adore Mercedes Lackey, and the Elemental Masters series are my favourite of all of them. This series in particular is a wonderful place to start reading the Fantasy genre as the magical situations are never overdone enough to make a non-Fantasy-er feel out of place or silly. Additionally, the prose doesn’t feel like that of a YA novel at all – I find that Fantasy YA is often nigh-on unreadable.
It’s hardly intellectual literature, but these books give me The Happy Book Fuzz every time I read them.
Read my review of the sixth book in the Elemental Masters series, Reserved for the Cat.