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Elemental Magic: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Mercedes Lackey (Editor)

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1006120,775 (3.41)7
Member:nessreader
Title:Elemental Magic: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters
Authors:Mercedes Lackey (Editor)
Info:DAW (2012), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:short stories, fantasy, multiauthor, alternate history

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Elemental Magic: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters by Mercedes Lackey (2012)

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The short stories in Elemental Magic are set in Lackey's alternative universe where there are Elemental Masters who command the elements of Air, Earth, Water, and Fire. While I very much enjoy Lackey's novels set in this world, these stories seem rather slight and forgettable. Even a few days later I would have to reread a story in order to describe it. So while I enjoyed it somewhat while actually reading I would only recommend it to those who can't get enough of this series.
  hailelib | Mar 28, 2014 |
Several very good stories, some not so interesting. Nothing terrible, but nothing wonderful either. And having this many stories in quick succession made me notice that all of them are about mages just starting out - usually older than training should start, but untrained for whatever reason. And then I was thinking about it and that's what Misty writes too - the only two I can think of that got properly trained are in Gates of Sleep where she then ran into villains who didn't use Elemental Magic and was therefore just as uncertain in dealing with it as the rest of the protagonists, and Reggie in Phoenix and Ashes who lost his powers and had to relearn them - be retrained. So here are 15 stories of people who didn't know they were mages (or otherwise magic - there's at least one medium as protagonist), or were being kept from the proper training by an enemy or by indifference, and suddenly get exposed to magic and have to figure out how to use it and what their own talents are (ok, upon checking back - 11 like that, one where the protagonist is trained but another isn't, and three where the protagonist is trained but dealing with a new situation). There are several that I'd like to see more of, and some I'm afraid we will (assuming this turns into a series like the Valdemar anthologies), but almost all of them are just starting out in this book, and most of them end these first stories with the equivalent of "Ok, now I'm a mage - what now?". Not bad, but a bit of an overload. And I really wish the Fire Rose protagonists could have shown up in the last story, set in Hawaii - but no, the rescuer had to be an unattached male because the protagonist was a young female. They didn't _all_ end up paired off, but the vast majority did. I did enjoy it, and I'll read again - but overall they've pretty much blurred into one another. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | May 15, 2013 |
A solid collection. This is an interesting world with so many opportunities to grow in different directions. The authors certainly had fun with it! ( )
  Krumbs | Mar 31, 2013 |
I don't use star ratings, so please read my review!

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“Among Mercedes Lackey’s many novels, few are as critically acclaimed and beloved as those about the Elemental Masters. The novels in this series are loosely based on classic fairy tales, and take place in a fantasy version of turn-of-the-century London, where magic is real and Elemental Masters control the powers of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Now other authors join Mercedes Lackey to add their own special touches to this delightful alternate history, in a world where magic is always just around the corner...”

I’ve been a little leery of themed anthologies, because they often produce stories that are serviceable without being anything extraordinary. Elemental Magic falls into that category. I think that part of the problem with this shared universe is that there isn’t a lot of variety to work with. There are four kinds of magic, which can be either Light or Dark, and a user can be either a Magician or a Master. There’s just not a wide array of things to choose from to create a plot.

About half of the stories, in one way or another, involve a Magician just coming into his or her powers and the chaos that it causes. In some of the tales, the main character is the newbie, but not always. Since a new Magician is usually confused by the growing powers at their beck and call, each of these stories feels pretty much the same. The only difference is in which element the fledgling user can use. Of these, the one I liked the best was “Air of Mystery”, in which an apprentice in the art of perfume making finds that she has a talent for Air magic when she’s tricked into mixing a scent that allows its wearer to be controlled.

The rest of the stories mostly involve conflict between Magicians and/or Masters, although a couple involve Magicians getting into trouble and finding their way out of it. “The Phoenix of Mulberry Street” is one of the best of this lot, although it has strong overtones of “The Little Match Girl” and the old tales of kindness to strangers being rewarded.

A couple of the stories I found to be, quite frankly, kind of bad. “Stones and Feathers”, the story of a young Earth mage drawn to live in London, really doesn’t have a coherent plot and doesn’t give any reason for ending the way that it does. “War to the Knife” relies on a secondary character doing a complete one hundred and eighty degree turn in their personality to accomplish the plot. “Tha Thu Ann” isn’t a bad story, but it is edited so horribly that character names get swapped more than once. And then there’s “The Collector”, in which the only African-American mage in the entire volume is also the only main character to choose Dark magic, which really makes it stand out… and not in a good way.

The universe of the Elemental Masters is one that I’ve enjoyed in the past, but this anthology didn’t do much for me. Elemental Magic is passable, but unless you’re really a fan of the series, don’t bother using this as a gateway to the stories, because you’re likely to get turned off and never try the novels.

This review originally appeared on Owlcat Mountain on March 3, 2013.
  owlcat_mountain | Mar 3, 2013 |
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

This is an anthology that fits into Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series. There are 17 short stories, and I have given a quick review of each one.

A Song of the Sea - It fitted in well with the continuity of Lackey's novels and it was good because of the historical references scattered throughout it (that I could actually recognise).

The Fire Within Him - This one was well written, but the concept was a little strange and I think it took the bounds of things outside Lackey's range. I don't think it belonged here.

Makana - I found the names in this one super strange, and it was a bit witch-doctor-y in nature. But it was good all the same.

War to the Knife - Really enjoyable, which is what I would expect from Rosemary Edghill. I did get a bit confused by the beginning because I'm not at all familiar with history, but the tale spinning itself was great.

Stones and Feathers - Oh this one was good! Very good! And it had so much more potential, and I would have loved to see it as a full length novel.

Fire's Children - Also very enjoyable, and fitted in well with Lackey's legacy. I think I'll look out for more novels by Elizabeth Waters.

For the Sake of Clarity - I'm not entirely sure this was kosher with the other stories, but it was enjoyable all the same. It didn't feel like it was too short either - it was set up, then continued very nicely. The language was a little iffy in parts, but I was able to gloss over it. This was more like the fairytales that one would expect.

To Ride the River Horse - This one went with the fairytale idea, and it was very good. I would have liked the ending to be a little clearer on what happened to the baddie though.

The Phoenix of Mulberry Street - This one I thought would be based on the fairytale of The Matchstick Girl, but wasn't. It was really good anyway :)

Air of Mystery - This short story could have been made into a much longer novel, I would have loved even more from this. It had all the right notes for a short story, and a bit of research as well - brilliant.

A Flower Grows in Whitechapel - This one was obviously written by someone familiar with the series, but branched out from what we already knew of Sarah and Nan.

Tha Thu Ann - The name of this one was a bit strange, but the theme fitted in well with the short story that came right before. I really felt the characters for this one too.

The Collector - I don't know enough about American history for this one. I'm guessing it's accurate though, and I found that the intermingling of elemental magic was very neat.

Queen of the Mountain - Another good one, although I felt it could have been longer. A good use of irony for the reader here.

I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing - Although this one was by Lackey, it lacked some of the pizzaz I expect of her. It wasn't any better than some of the authors in this anthology, and I'm going to branch out for sure in future. ( )
  Rosemarie.Herbert | Feb 26, 2013 |
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Seventeen all-original stories of the Elemental Magicians of Edwardian Britain originally created by Mercedes Lackey in the book The serpent's shadow.

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