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A Study in Sable

(Elemental Masters #11)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,078 ratings  ·  223 reviews
Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White—along with their clever birds, the raven Neville and the parrot Grey—have been agents of Lord Alderscroft, the Elemental Fire Master known as the Wizard of London, since leaving school. Now, Lord Alderscroft assigns them another commission: to work with the famous man living at 221 Baker Street—but not the one in flat B. They ...more
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by DAW
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Although overall I found the book interesting enough to keep me reading, I can't help but feel that Lackey has lost her grip on this series. She's expanded from the original Elemental Masters world to add ghosts, psychics, reincarnated warriors (and let's not even mention the vampires and shifters of the books that feature the hunting lodges). I think it's hard to develop a world and stay consistent when you keep adding in new things that don't play well with the rules of the world you've alread ...more
***2019 The Summer of Sherlock***

This is one of the weirder tributes to Sherlock Holmes that I have read. I really enjoyed Lackey’s The Last Herald Mage series and was hoping that I could jump into this Elemental Masters series at book number 11 without any problems. It is easy enough to get the hang of this world, but I couldn’t help but think that Mr. Holmes and John & Mary Watson could have been swapped out for other characters without hurting the narrative one bit. I am not sure why the
MAB  LongBeach
The latest Elemental Masters book returns to Sarah Lyon-White and Nan Killian, now young women sharing rooms. After being introduced to a consulting detective residing in Baker St., they begin assisting his doctor friend and the doctor's wife with various magical goings-on. Yes, Sherlock Holmes is suddenly real in this universe (despite being called out as fictional in an earlier book) and the Watsons are Elemental Mages. Sarah is employed as a medium by a German opera singer who is being beset ...more
John Watson and his wife Mary are Elemental Masters? Huh??

I was so pleased to read that a new book was out, featuring Sarah and Nan and their amazing birds. The last two books in this series were such disappointments; I quit reading early in both stories. But Sherlock Holmes? Excuse the eye-rolls.

The story is fairly interesting, though the thread about Sarah and her work with Magdalena goes on rather too long. It does offer time for Nan to shine on her own.
Interesting, though not one I think I would ever claim as a favourite. While I can't say that I disliked any of the characters, I don't find myself particularly fond of any of them, including Nan and Sarah. While it's nice that they're portrayed as educated, strong willed women in the Victorian era, that's not exactly unusual among Lackeys' heroines. And the way this was shown felt more than a bit condescending to me - it's fine to prefer to wear sensible clothing when working, and out and about ...more
Nan and Sarah, from earlier books, are all grown up and taking their own cases. Sarah gets hired to take care of this swarm of ghosts haunting this opera singer. Nan gets worried about how distant Sarah has gotten and consults with friends Mary and John Watson and Sherlock Holmes to figure out what is going on. With the help of Neville and Grey, the birds, they do try to bring justice out of the mess that is going on.

I really enjoyed the historical parts and the parts with the the little adopte
Apr 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Sherlock Holmes and the Watsons are amongst the other familiar characters joining Sarah Lyon-White and Nan Killian, now adults and fully trained in their own right, ready to deal with ghosts, enchantments, masters and other magical workings. Murder and mayhem, however, might tax them farther than they think. At least their avian companions, Neville the raven and Grey the African parrot, are there for support and occasional scoldings! (Coincidentally I've also been reading a book by an animal/avi ...more
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
I had to force myself to finish this book. It just didn't grab me.

The two main characters spend most of the book sniping at each other because 1 of them is under a spell and "forgetting" about her adopted daughter and friend.

The other main character runs around with Sherlock Holmes and Watson and Watson's wife (both elemental masters) and trying to control her alter ego, some sort of Celtic warrior priestess.

It felt like a bunch of pieces were thrown together (sirens, Puck, a murdered/missing
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sarah Lyon-White and Nan Killian, a medium and a mind reader attached to the White Lodge are assigned by Lord Ashcroft to assist a gentleman who resides at 221 Baker Street. Not Sherlock Holmes, but John Watson, Water Elemental Master, and his wife, Mary, an Air Elemental Master. They handle the magical cases that Holmes refuses to touch.

But when one of John and the ladies cases intersects with one of Sherlock's cases, then the great Sherlock Holmes gets a lesson in improbable versus impossible,
Sheila Beaumont
I was three books behind in the Elemental Masters series, but jumped ahead when I saw that Sherlock Holmes makes an appearance in this latest one.

It was a fun read, though John Watson and his wife, Mary, are stronger characters than Holmes. The Watsons are occult detectives, an Elemental Water Master and Air Master respectively, who live upstairs from Holmes at 221C Baker Street. Holmes refuses to believe in Elemental magic, though it seems to me that since it is real in this alternate universe,
Jul 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2016
I like Nan and Sarah and was content to read about new exploits from them. The story was a bit thin, but the character conflicts were nicely written. I didn't love the intrusion of Sherlock Holmes and Watson into the story - it just seemed unnecessary and didn't add anything of interest. Lackey's Holmes was entirely tame and not terribly interesting.

I did appreciate a side plot that seemed like a direct answer to some criticisms of her other elemental masters books and their use of exoticism.

Kylara Jensen
The problem with M. Lackey's novels recently are this: there is no tension. That's all. It's like we never wonder if everything is going to turn out ok. We know it will.

Phoenix and Ashes is my favorite book in this series (one of my all-time favorite books) and there is PAIN and SUFFERING and TENSION. Will she make it? Will she defeat her stepmother? Etc. It's tense to read. That's what's so fun.

THis is more like an afternoon sitting by the fire listening to your grandma tell you of that one ti
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

I read A Study in Sable AFTER I finished A Scandal in Battersea. That’s definitely the wrong order. But A Scandal in Battersea served as a marvelous reintroduction for this reader to the Elemental Masters series. So marvelous, in fact, that when I closed that book I grabbed as much of the series as I could from various libraries and immediately started on A Study in Sable, order be damned.

I’m very glad I did.

With the exception of the villains, the cast of c
While the Elemental Masters series is not my favorite Lackey series, this was still an entertaining read. It combines fantasy and mystery in a Victorian setting. One of the main characters (Nan) showed growth and depth since we last saw her in this series. The plot had some twists and turns, but the story dragged in a couple of places. However, the pacing was good in most of the novel. Overall, I enjoyed it and look forward to more adventures in this series.
look I KNOW, but just GO WITH IT, okay?
Jane Ashford
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sherlock Homes and magic, a great combination. I also love Nan and Sarah from previous books.
Meira (readingbooksinisrael)

This is definitely my favourite of the Nan and Sarah books so far. I do think, though, that the (view spoiler) was taking us out of the rules of the world she created.
Lark of The Bookwyrm's Hoard
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, fantasy, arc
Review originally published at The Bookwyrm's Hoard.

A Study in Sable unabashedly appropriates Sherlock Holmes, and more importantly, John and Mary Watson, into the late Victorian world of Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Magic. While the super-rational Holmes refuses to believe in magic or take cases involving it, the Watsons of Lackey’s imagination are Masters of Water and Air, respectively. The book also reintroduces Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White, last seen in Home from the Sea, who possess
Nothing particularly memorable, but entertaining enough.

This time, Lackey presents a pastiche of Sherlock Holmes and John & Mary Watson, making the Watsons elemental masters who put up with their friend Holmes' amusing skepticism re. "illogical" magic -- I enjoy Holmes retellings, as long as the author is competent, which ML certainly is.

There is also a classic "fairy tale" retold, as usual for this series, this time the somewhat morbid "The Two Sisters". I don't think saying that is much of a
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
With "A Study In Sable", Lackey returns us to the Elemental Masters series with a slightly different flavor. This time we step away from the charm of the fairy-tale retellings and into the realm of the Sherlockian, taking up the world's favorite Consulting Detective.

Maybe it's my age. Maybe it's her age. Both perhaps, but I have to admit Lackey's light fantasy has really lost much of it's charm for me. I had been enjoying this series, but the formulaic nature of it begins to wear thin. Study is
Aug 23, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I received the book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.
I am sorry to give this book such a poor rating. The premises were good, a Victorian fantasy with Sherlock Holmes in it was, or should have been, everything I wanted and enjoyed to be reading during Summer. I am new to the Elemental Masters cycle, so I did not have previous experience with the characters and the setting, but I did not feel there were many things I was missing or were not clear from the story itself. This book is pretty muc
I never know what to expect from an Elemental Masters book -- the last two have been fairy tale retellings (which were epically awesome!!) set around Germany/Hungary, while this one returns readers to the British "Lodge." Nan and Sarah were introduced in a previous book, but it's been so long since I read that one, when I started reading this one, my thoughts were vaguely "waaaaaiiiittt... what happened the last time with these two?" There's just enough of a recap that we know they were lured in ...more
May 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
My main problem with this volume of the Elemental Masters series is the way one of the characters is treated. Maybe it's because we have the same name, but I felt like Sarah was really mistreated by the characters. They all thought she was being enthralled by the opera singer because she was enjoying spending time at the opera and a fancy hotel and enjoying the perks of a nice lifestyle. Sure, it turned out that there was a spell, but there was this weird undercurrent to the disapproval as thoug ...more
Text Addict
Much better than Nan and Sarah's previous outing (which was pretty awful), as long as you can take the "Sherlock Holmes is real" shtick. I generally like it just fine, myself. It also seems a bit episodic until the various plot threads come together.

Readers will be either disappointed or pleased at the continuing total lack of a romance subplot for either of these characters, who seem quite content with their joint spinsterhood. (In fact, they never worry about that at all.) It also continues w
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: paranormal
Nan Killian and her best friend, Sarah Lyon-White, along with their talented birds, Neville and Gray, are called to consult with Sherlock Homes. John Watson is an Elemental Water Master and his wife, Mary, is an Elemental Air Master, but Holmes has a hard time believing in magical tarradiddle. But when Sherlock is investigating the death of a German woman, who is the sister of a renowned opera singer, it becomes clear something magical is happening. Sarah gets pulled into the orbit of Magdalena ...more
Dec 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
I...just...couldn' Despite being a longtime dedicated fan of Lackey's, I just haven't felt that her more recent works hold up in comparison with her earlier novels. Lately it has been difficult for me to distinguish her protagonists book to book and I've been reading each new release out of a sense of obligation rather than excitement. I've been all for her rosy approach to plotting in the past, but books like this one feel as though the characters never truly face conflict. The ...more
Oct 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The twist at the end was masterfully done.

The plot seemed to meander rather pointlessly for a great deal of the book, presumably as a series of red herrings.

In Lackey's later writing, I've noticed that all of the 'good' characters agree quickly and easily on virtually everything. They all share the same point of view. Anyone who disagrees turns out to be evil or brainwashed. I haven't read much of her early stuff lately, so I don't know if this has always been the case. I like her point of vie
Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White, friends and now on-their-own roommates, go their separate ways in this one. Sarah, a medium, attempts to help an opera singer beset with ghosts. Lower-class Nan isn't invited. She goes with Sherlock Holmes's Dr. John Watson, a Water Master, and his wife Mary, an Air Master, to do battle against a powerful ghost that almost killed her and Sarah years ago. They then head to the country to see what's what with a blood sacrifice.
Somehow this entry in the series feel
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
You know how sometimes you want a healthy meal? And sometimes you want a doughnut? Mercedes Jacket novels are doughnuts -- fluffy, sweet, lacking in substance. but they hit the spot usually.

Lately though, I find that they... aren't satisfying. I don't know if my tastes have changed or they've just gone downhill, like a Dunkin donut at closing time, but I find them stilted, too convenient, and tedious. This one is better than the last two, if only because Sarah and Nan are more interesting, but i
Kathryn Baron
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I have enjoyed this series. But, oh dear. It was work finishing this one. It relied too much on the readers affection for previously established characters. The formulaic underpinnings were too bare. And the moral life lessons much too much like a sermon. Lackey has always had a tendency to sermonize. Acceptable when it is part of a good story, less so when everything else is so thin.

Not horrible. I'll keep reading the series, but a disappointment.
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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & M ...more

Other books in the series

Elemental Masters (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters, #1)
  • The Gates of Sleep (Elemental Masters, #2)
  • Phoenix and Ashes (Elemental Masters, #3)
  • The Wizard of London (Elemental Masters, #4)
  • Reserved for the Cat (Elemental Masters, #5)
  • Unnatural Issue (Elemental Masters, #6)
  • Home from the Sea (Elemental Masters, #7)
  • Steadfast (Elemental Masters #8)
  • Blood Red (Elemental Masters, #9)
  • From a High Tower (Elemental Masters, #10)

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