Mercedes Lackey’s “Elemental Masters” series: Overview


This is a historical fantasy series, set in the late 19th and early 20th century, mostly in the UK and Europe. (The author states in the introduction to “Elemental Magic” that she has confined herself the period 1870 – 1919.)  It is presented, not so much as an alternative history, as a hidden aspect of our own history. Magic exists, but most people are unaware of it.

The magic relates to the four classical elements: Fire, Water, Earth and Air. A fifth element, Spirit, is added later, in “The Bartered Brides”: it is explained that Spirit Magicians are rare. People with magic related to the elements are Elemental Magicians (or Elemental Mages). The most powerful of these are the Elemental Masters. There are various magical beings or creatures related to the elements; these are called Elemental Creatures. The Elemental Magicians are aware of, and interact with, the Elemental Creatures, especially when performing their magic.

Mercedes Lackey has loosely based each of her stories on a fairy tale. In the Introduction to “Elemental Magic”, Mercedes Lackey lists the following fairy tales that her stories, up to that point, are based on: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Puss In Boots, Tattercoat, Cinderella, Snow Queen, Tam Lin.

There is also a theme in the series of women standing up for their rights, during a period when women’s rights were not generally recognised.

Starting from “A Study in Sable”, Ms Lackey has combined her Elemental Masters world with the world of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes for some of the stories. The stories in this sequence are:

  • A Study in Sable
  • A Scandal in Battersea
  • The Bartered Brides
  • The Case of the Spellbound Child

In these stories, Sherlock’s associate Dr John Watson, and John’s wife Mary, are Elemental Masters.  Also appearing in these stories are Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White, who had previously appeared in “The Wizard of London” and “Home from the Sea”.

Baen Books published “The Fire Rose”.  DAW Books published the remaining books in the series and invented the “Elemental Masters” series name and numbering. Due to this, the series numbering begins with “The Serpent’s Shadow”.  So “The Fire Rose” is not technically part of the Elemental Masters series.  But it is listed under this series on the author’s website, and follows the same theme as the series.

Books in the series

Previously I had my reviews of the books of this series all on the one webpage. I have now split them out, so there is a separate page for the review of each book.


Wikipedia: Elemental Masters:

Mercedes Lackey – the Official Website:


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