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The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental…

The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters, Book 1) (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Mercedes Lackey (Author)

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1,853197,039 (3.85)77
From the magical mysteries of India to the gaslit streets of Victorian London, Mercedes Lackey's unique departure from her Valdemar series follows a young woman doctor as she searches for the secret behind the sorcery in her blood.
Title:The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters, Book 1)
Authors:Mercedes Lackey (Author)
Info:DAW (2002), Edition: 1st Printing, 400 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Serpent's Shadow by Mercedes Lackey (2001)

  1. 20
    The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey (391)
    391: Another in the Elemental Masters series, this one dealing with 1906 San Francisco.
  2. 10
    Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson (infiniteletters)
  3. 10
    Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley (kiri_wren)
    kiri_wren: If you like fairy tales, Lackey's Elemental Masters series gives the classics a fun twist -- historical fiction meets magic.

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» See also 77 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
This was an engaging historical fantasy with echoes of the fairy tale Snow White.

Dr. Maya Witherspoon was born and raised in India. Her father was a British doctor. Her mother a Brahmin who gave up her family and caste to marry him. She was also a practicing magician and assisted by aspects of Hindu gods. However, she didn't teach her daughter how to use magic saying that her daughter's magic came from her father's tradition.

After her parents' deaths - her mother's from cholera and her father's from the bite of a krait - Maya gathered up her household and fled to London. It was 1909 and Maya had to deal with a variety of prejudices due to her desire to practice medicine and her mixed heritage. She finds a job in a hospital and a free clinic and also establishes a practice working with women from the theatrical world and demi-monde where she teaches birth control and specializes in "female complaints".

But her enemy - her mother's sister who practices dark magic - has followed her and wants to consume Maya's power and get revenge on the British who invaded her country.

Maya's untutored magic has drawn the attention of the Elemental Masters in London and Paul Scott, former sea captain, current merchant, and Water Master, is sent to see if Maya is a danger. Despite the Master's prejudice against female Elemental Masters, Paul is determined to teach her what she needs to know about her magical abilities.

With her aunt getting closer to finding her, Maya needs to get control of her Earth Master abilities. She also falls in love with Paul.

The worldbuilding here was excellent. I loved the combination of Western and Hindu magic. I also enjoyed the combination of 1909 women's suffrage and magic. The characters were fascinating and well-rounded. The writing is lyrical and descriptive.

This was a reread for me. I first read it near its publication date in 2001 when I was automatically buying and reading everything by Mercedes Lackey. It is also the first in a series that has grown to sixteen books, many of which are inspired by fairy tales. ( )
  kmartin802 | Sep 23, 2021 |
Maya Witherspoon is newly arrived in London from India to establish herself as a physician and surgeon. She also has the magic from her mother to learn. Maya must gain allies, friends, and knowledge. A great intro into the Elemental Masters series. ( )
  bgknighton | Sep 9, 2021 |
As always, enjoyed my read through of this book. I really should finish the rest of the series as it stands one of these days! ( )
  Serenova_Phoenix | Jun 26, 2017 |
This is a fun read. It is not very historically accurate but it a great deal of fun. The magic system is based on the four basic elements and people who can use them. There is another magic system but Maya cannot use that one, so we the readers do not get to understand it. But other than playing fast and loose with history this is a good book. I liked the characters, I liked the plot, and I really liked the world. We do not get as much magic in this as in the first book in this world The Fire Rose but we get more world-building itself. We have a pretty good idea about that this world is very like our own and can see the differences without problem. The dialog is good, the pacing is good but the sense of time is not there. I think that this book takes about a year overall but there is no real way to know other than when Lackey talks about the weather but that is only done in passing. I look forward to reading the next one.

I give this book a Four out of Five stars. ( )
  lrainey | May 4, 2016 |
I loved Maya. She’s strong and confident and knows how to get what she needs. When we first meet her she’s sitting in some high brow Dr’s office gritting her teeth and trying to appear as harmless as she can so she can get the practice license she needs in order to legally make money from her skills as a Dr. But she’s not a doormat, she fights for what she wants, but she also knows when it’s better to back off and come at a problem again from another angle.

However, the romance relationship between Maya and Peter seemed rushed. I also would’ve liked to have known a bit more about Peter. And I wish the villain hadn’t been so plainly evil, but I guess that isn’t too bad seeing as these are supposed to be rewritten fairy tales and usually those do have clear black and white lines.
( )
  Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mercedes Lackeyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ford, MichelleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, Jody A.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Eara (1900)

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Leaden, self-important silence isolated the chief surgeon's office from the clamor of the hospital and the clangor of the street outside.
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From the magical mysteries of India to the gaslit streets of Victorian London, Mercedes Lackey's unique departure from her Valdemar series follows a young woman doctor as she searches for the secret behind the sorcery in her blood.

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Loosely based on the fairy tale of Snow White, set in 1909 - 1910 England.
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