Mercedes Lackey’s “Elemental Masters” series: Home from the Sea

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Home from the Sea (2012)

[Based on “Tam Lin”, and traditions about selkies.]

Mari Prothero lives with her father Daffyd, on the coast of Wales. Daffyd is a fisherman – a very successful one. He even goes out fishing in stormy weather, and catches lots of fish even then.

Mari has been seeing magical creatures all her life. She wonders whether they are real, or whether she is going mad.

When Mari reaches her 18th birthday, Daffyd explains that there is a bargain between the Prothero family and the Selch (the Welsh equivalent of the Scottish Selkies) – creatures that can transform between seal-form and human-form. In each generation, a Prothero must marry a Selch, they would produce two children, one of which would become a Selch, and return to the sea with the Selch parent. In return, the Selch protect the Prothero fishermen on the sea, and guide them to the best fishing.

Mari learns that the magical creatures she had been seeing are real; they are Elemental Water Creatures. In fact she has powerful magic; she is a Water Master.

Mari is upset that her father hasn’t told her all this before, and that she is obliged to marry a Selch man. However she makes her own bargain with the Selch Clan Chief, Gethin. She knows they need her magic. She insists he provide her with a teacher of magic, and a few Selch young men to court her, amongst whom she will choose a husband.

So Gethin sends a teacher, Idwal, and four suitors, who arrive at the Prothero cottage out of the sea.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Nan (from “The Wizard of London”) had graduated from the Harton school, and spent a year in Africa, where they visited Sarah’s parents. They now return to the school – which at the end of “The Wizard of London” had been relocated to David Alderscroft’s country estate.

Sarah and Nan take on the job of teachers at the school, but discover they are not very good at it. So when David Alderscroft offers them a job, they take it willingly.

Lord Alderscroft has learned from his Elemental Creature contacts that there is a new Water Master on the Welsh coast, and sends Sarah and Nan (along with their birds, Grey the parrot and Neville the raven) to investigate. They stay in a cottage on the estate of the local manor house.

Sarah and Nan encounter Robin Goodfellow (or Puck) again (as they did in “The Wizard of London”), who gives them advice. (Puck must tread carefully – he does not have jurisdiction over the sea.) So Sarah and Nan meet up with Mari, and provide her with advice, and they soon become friends.

But Mari finds she does not care for any of the suitors, but instead she falls in love with the teacher, Idwal. So Mari and Idwal marry. Clan Chief Gethin is angry at this.

In due course Mari gives birth to twin boys. But the Selch arrive and take Idwal and the boys away.

With the help of Rhodri, one of the former suitors, Mari follows the Selch into the sea, and comes to a land in the magical realm, and insists on the return of her husband and sons. The Chief makes her undergo a series of tests.

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