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    Review of THE WIZARD OF LONDON by Mercedes Lackey (see her website)


    DAW Books, October 2005

    Isabelle Harton is happy enough running her school for children of British expatriots, especially talented children. She loves her husband and has a good life, but she still holds a grudge against the man who spoke of marriage but who then gave her the cold shoulder years before. That man, Lord David Alderscroft, is now a leader amongst the elemental mages of England, a rising star in the British Parliament, and totally intent on keeping his cool and distancing himself from emotion--something challenging to a master of fire. But then, Alderscroft has been working with ice--the opposite of fire, under the tutelage of his long-time mentor, Cordelia.

    When someone reaches out in an attempt to kill two young talented students in Isabelle's school, Isabelle is forced to reforge connections she'd long abandoned, but still, Alderscroft brushes off her requests that he investigate seriously. Still, Isabelle is sure something is going on.

    Author Mercedes Lackey (see more reviews of novels by Lackey) continues her Elemental Masters series with another fairy tale--the Ice Queen who wants to cover the entire land in cold. Cordelia is evil all right--but partly for good reason. In Victorian England, women are denied power, listened to and sought after not for their wisdom, but for their beauty alone. Cordelia's magic has held her beauty for a long time, but she knows it is fading now. Unless she acts, she will become nothing at all.

    Lackey plays the fairy tale straight, though, only hinting at ways that Cordelia might become a sympathetic, even heroic character. Alderscroft, in contrast, is a jerk--yet the story requires that he be redeemed, and the girls, their magic-endowed birds, and Isabelle, together with the godlike figure of Robin Goodfellow, set out to do exactly that.

    Mercedes Lackey is a talented author and story-spinner. I think that the story here was ultimately too constrained and too sacarine for her. THE WIZARD OF LONDON is certainly readable, even has enjoyable moments. But being able to turn to a god for help whenever you need to takes a lot of the suspense out of the story. And, after all, who really cares what happens to David Alderscroft--based on this story alone, at any rate?

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 1/09/05

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