Angela Delgado's Reviews > Home from the Sea

Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey
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's review
Jun 05, 2012

liked it

Contains mild spoilers
(Cross-posted to Amazon)

Mari is a Welsh fisherman's daughter who discovers on her 18th birthday that she is obligated to marry a 'Selch' (selkie) as part of a generations-long bargain between her family and the seal clan. At the same time, she learns that the fantastic sprites she's been seeing her whole life are actually indicative of her growing potential as a Water Master. Nan and Sarah (repeat characters who debuted in The Wizard of London) are sent by Lord Alderscroft to investigate the reports that a new Elemental Mage is coming into power.

So much for the summary.... unfortunately, for three-fourths of the book, that's about all there is. It reads much more like a Louisa May Alcott accounting of daily life than the fantasy adventure in the previous Elemental Masters novels. There are minor points of conflict: Mari's reluctance to be bartered off as a bride, and her subsequent bargain with the Selch leader; and a new, bullying constable who's more of a nuisance than a threat to anyone. In the meantime, Nan and Sarah (now grown and returned from off-screen African adventures) conduct a failed experiment in teaching, debate what to do with themselves, and wander off for a sea-side holiday at Alderscroft's behest. Mari enjoys being courted by handsome young men, learning the extents of powers with a Selch Druid's tutelage, and harvesting various forms of seaweed to cook with. My Kindle showed 80% of the book completed before any sort of significant danger even began to reveal itself - and when it arrived, it was with insufficient justification based on the previous pages. There was almost no tension for most of the story.

It was a huge contrast to previous books in the series, where an antagonist is established almost immediately through his/her POV scenes, and slowly revealed to the heroes. Instead, the encounters preceding the climax seem incredibly mild, there are no antagonist POV scenes, and therefore the antagonist's major attack is very out of proportion and unbelievable in context. That being said, the writing is very pleasant, and a fun read overall; I just wish I'd known it would be so different from previous installments.

I do wonder if Lackey is planning future books to be The Nan And Sarah Show - this seemed more about an 'apprenticeship'-sort of way to set them up as roving detectives for the London mage's society than about anything you would expect from an Elemental Masters book. I'll still continue to read everything she puts out, but I feel like she's losing ground and it's hard to see a favorite author's quality continue to slip.
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