Mercedes Lackey’s “Elemental Masters” series: The Wizard of London

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The Wizard of London (2005)

[Based on “The Snow Queen”.]

The Snow Queen character is Cordelia. The Kai character is David Alderscroft. The character corresponding to Gerda is possibly intended to be Isabelle, although the parallel is a bit vague. She is the former girlfriend of David, and eventually part of the group that saves him from Cordelia. However the main storyline follows Sarah and Nan, rather than the plot corresponding to the Snow Queen story.

Isabelle and Frederick Harton run a boarding school in London. (Frederick is not involved directly in the school, and works for an import company.)

Isabelle had met Frederick in India, where he was stationed as a soldier. When they had returned to England, they had established the school, primarily for the children of expatriate English people in India. Some of their staff are from India, as are the three warrior guards, Agansing (a Gurkha), Selim (a Moslem) and Karamjit (a Sikh). But also, Isabelle and Frederick and the three guards all have psychic abilities (this is different from Elemental Magic). Children with psychic abilities are secretly encouraged to attend the school, where they receive training in these abilities.  The staff and students of the school refer to Isabelle as Memsa’b, and to Frederick as Sahib.

Sarah Lyon-White is the daughter of medical missionaries living in Africa. Her parents are Elemental Magicians, but when she develops psychic abilities, they send her back to England, to the Hartons’ school.

It is Karamjit’s practice to take left-over food out to the gate for the street kids each evening, although most of them are too afraid to accept it. Sarah has been going out to the gate with him. One evening they meet a girl called Nan Killian, who accepts a basket of food from them. So from then on, Nan is there each evening to accept food. Nan and Sarah strike up a friendship, which Isabelle encourages, since she senses that Nan has psychic abilities.

Then one evening, two men come for Nan. Her mother has sold her to the brothel owners. Sarah runs to her defence, and the two girls run away down the road. But before the men can do anything, they are attacked by a ghostly bird – the spirit of Sarah’s African Grey Parrot, whom Sarah had left behind in Africa. Then two of the guards from the school come and beat the men up, and return the girls to the school. Nan becomes a student at the school, earning her keep by working with the nursemaids looking after the smallest children.

Shortly afterwards, Sarah’s mother visits from Africa, and brings Sarah’s parrot, which is called “Grey”, to her. Not only can the parrot talk, but it understands what it is saying, and it has mystical abilities.

Isabelle asks Sarah and Nan to attend a seance with her, run by a medium, who Isabelle suspects is cheating a friend of hers. The medium is proved to be a fake. But Sarah discovers that she herself is a true medium, able to perceive and communicate with spirits, and guide them to the afterlife.

The school takes a trip to London Tower, where Nan meets a raven called Neville, which returns to the school with her. This raven has mystical abilities. So each of the two girls now has a mystical bird companion.

After this, Sarah and Nan are lured to a house at Number 10, Berkeley Square, where they are attacked by a monstrous spiritual creature. But Nan discovers mystical powers within herself, which enables her to fight back. And Isabelle, Frederick and the three guards arrive to rescue them.

Isabelle refers the incident to the Elemental Masters, where it comes to David Alderscroft’s attention.

Cordelia is an Air Master, with a touch of Fire Magic. She had encountered an Elemental ice spirit in Switzerland, who had taught her methods relating to Cold and Ice. David is a Fire Master. Cordelia became his mentor, teaching him magic relating to Cold, the opposite aspect of his Fire power. Their goal is political power. David is a member of House of Lords. He hopes to get a Ministry of Arcane Sciences (ie magic) – eventually to have Elemental Masters controlling the government.   Cordelia is resentful of the fact that women don’t have much social and political power, and that she must work through an intermediary.

David is the son of the Lord Alderscroft (“the Old Lion”) mentioned in previous stories, who had died 2 years previously. David has become head of White Lodge, and revitalised it. He is referred to as “the Young Lion”, or “the Wizard of London”.  In later stories, people start referring to David as “the Old Lion” or sometimes just “the Lion”.  [From this story onward, “Lord Alderscroft” refers to David, in previous stories it’s his father.]

In the past, David and Isabelle had been going together. Then when Cordelia appeared on the scene, David had snubbed Isabelle, implying that their difference in social status made the relationship unsuitable. Isabelle was bitterly disappointed. It was after this she went to India.

Cordelia uses some really nasty magic – killing orphaned children, and making their spirits her slaves.

The staff and students of the Harton school go to an estate in the country. This is something of a holiday, although lessons continue, with each weekday being a half-holiday. And the lessons generally involve observations and explorations of the house and property.

They plan to put on a performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. But Isabelle doesn’t know who to cast as Puck. Then the real Puck (also called Robin Goodfellow) – that ancient spirit of England – appears and agrees to take the role. The play goes ahead successfully and magically.

David goes to a country house party, which happens to be at the adjoining property to where the Harton School staff and students are staying. He visits Isabelle, who gives him a cool reception.

A bit later Cordelia arrives. She has something nasty planned for David. But Puck senses something is wrong, and alerts Sarah, Nan, Isabelle, Frederick and the three guards.

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