Book Review: The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey

Posted February 11, 2022 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey
Genres: Historical, Paranormal Fantasy
Published by DAW on October 3, 2006
Pages: 388
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Closer to Home, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea, The Hills Have Spies, The Bartered Brides, Dragon's Teeth, Eye Spy, Breaking Silence, Pathways, The Case of the Spellbound Child, Jolene, Passages, Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, The Serpent's Shadow, The Oathbound, The White Gryphon, The Silver Gryphon, Beyond, Spy, Spy Again, Oathbreakers, The Lark and the Wren, The Gates of Sleep, Phoenix and Ashes, The Robin and the Kestrel, Oathblood, Exile's Honor, The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley, Owlflight, Exile’s Valor

Fifth in the Elemental Masters historical paranormal fantasy series and revolving around the magic of Masters, Mages, and Talents. There is a double focus that introduces us to the Hartons and their school with two of their students, Nan and Sarah, and introducing the ambitious Lord Alderscroft. This story is based on The Snow Queen, and she is COLD.

My Take

It’s a clash of good vs evil, men vs women, upper vs lower class, of which these last two will disgust you.

The story introduces the Harton School, a caring place that puts its emphasis on providing the kids with a warm, loving environment where they are encouraged to think and ask questions. Where pets are welcome and the foods the kids are familiar with are what they get here. They will also be protected. Heh, heh, heh . . .

Even better, the adults listen to the children. Of course, the children are expected to obey the rules and young Tommy finds out the hard way. Memsa’b’s approach to punishment makes her very popular with the Highleigh parents.

The story does start with an endorsement of Professor Emerson from Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series regarding the horrors of the English public schools! Lackey includes a nasty poke at those letters home the kids write.

I do like that Sarah’s parents are more into medicine than conversion. They’re also open to other ideas, which leads to the cooperative relationship they have with the Africans. I suspect international relations would benefit from this attitude.

Frederick has an interesting back story and has contributed to his desire to pay it forward. The prideful Isabelle has a good and bad backstory as well as with an interesting character arc. There’s also a brief glimpse into how Isabelle met Frederick.

More history includes the rules that “should” govern those with magical abilities. It is freaky how nasty being cold can make you. Manipulative, controlling . . . obsessed with the hypocrisy of politics, and the politicking for one’s own interests. And it’s all part of Alderscroft’s character arc. Whew. His plans for that Ministry of Esoteric Sciences are dang scary with that possibility of forcing people to register their abilities and be subject to restrictions and . . . To be honest, they sound like Trump’s plans for the US.

I had to laugh at the various descriptions of the little ones running about naked after a bath. I could see them running and laughing and waving their arms about, lol. Those accounts of Nan’s appreciation for her new “family” are poignant and make me feel warmer for how much better her life is.

Oh, ya gotta love Grey. She is a crack-up. Then you’ll meet Neville, lol.

Oh. Man. Cordelia. Definitely a person I would never want to meet. Cold. Callous. Beyond merely manipulative. The ambitious Cordelia has no qualms about how she gets what she wants. She really creeped me out!!

This is the story that confused the heck out of me, time-wise until I went back over past notes AND realized that Lackey had said in The Wizard of London, that Alderscroft has resurrected the old magic Circle. Phew. Good to know. The idea of the circle is a good one, but oy, it’s so misogynistic! Their ignorant assumptions about women’s priorities made me sick. More confusion came when there was no reference to World War I, as if it hadn’t happened yet, but in Phoenix and Ashes, 4, the war has come to an end.

Lackey is using a third person global subjective point-of-view from so many perspectives. It’s a great way to listen in on all those plans, thoughts, and emotions!

Oh lordy! Lol, the fun the kids have at Highleigh Park! Although Nan and Sarah do have their own mean encounter, and Isabelle must confront her past. It’s part of the relaxed lessons that causes Isabelle, Nan, and Sarah to confront that haunted well.

Isabelle manages a nasty little poke at Alderscroft when she challenges him about Sarah and Nan’s safety! That’s not the only jab, as Alderscroft keeps sticking his foot in his mouth.

It does amaze me that the bad guys never learn, although it does provide lots of action and excitement with a range of characters from great to awful.

Wanting to know what happened had me flipping those pages as fast as I could.

And remember, never bargain with the Ice Lord . . . and keep your friends.

The Story

It’s a terrifying place, that back gate for the Big House and the scary black man who comes there. Yet he is also rumored to come with a huge basket of food. It’s worth waiting, taking a chance, especially when you’re as cold and hungry as Nan.

It’s a wait that results in Nan meeting the chatty Sarah and progresses to their Talents and their selves being valued.

The Young Lion’s cold ambitions find him planning to expand Her Majesty’s government. A plan that may depend upon his encounter with Isabelle, the lady he threw away . . . and the anger of Robin Goodfellow.

The Characters

Victoria is the queen of England.

Nine-year-old Sarah Jane Lyon-White has unexpected gifts — receptive and projective telepathy. Grey is the female gray parrot she had to leave behind. Her parents, Dr Lyon-White and her mother, a nurse, are Protestant missionaries in Africa; he is an Earth Master and she is an Earth Mage. M’dela is an African shaman who’s been working with Sarah. M’luko is M’dela’s apprentice

The young but motherly Nan Killian, a street arab, may be psychic, for she can sense a person’s intent. Aggie is her mother, a drug addict and alcoholic, only interested in money to support her habits.

The Harton School is . . .
. . . a boarding school for the children of people working abroad and/or with magic abilities. Isabelle Helen Harton née Carpenter, a.k.a. Memsa’b and Shining Star, runs the school while her husband, Frederick Harton, a.k.a. Sahib, works as an advisor to an import firm after his military service left him with a bad knee. Sahib’s Talent is in clairvoyance and clairaudience. Agansing is a Gurkha from India. Selim is a Muslim. Karamjit “Lion” is a Sikh. All three are warriors who guard the school, the Hartons, and the children. The five of them can transform into Warriors of the Light.

The servants include Vashti the cook; Maya, Mala, and Nadra who are ayas; Sia; and, Mustafa, who also came from India with the Hartons. The teachers include Professor Hawthorne, Madame Jeanette, and Miss Payne. Students include Tommy Carpenter, Amanda Truitt, Anna Thompson, Mary Dowland, and Henry Tailor.

Highleigh Park is . . .
. . . an estate out in the country to which the Hartons and their students are invited to spend the summer by Mr Benson who also owns the house in Berkeley Square where the twisted Earth Wight is haunting the building, the existence of which is traced back to Connor O’Brian, a rogue Talent. Mr Thackers is in charge of the farm and greatly enjoyed the revenge of the geese. Gaffer Geordie is brilliant with animals. Flash is the pony bought for the children. Lord Matthew had been a previous owner of Highleigh and was obsessed with archeology.

Robin Goodfellow, a.k.a. Puck, is the Guardian of Logres, the Oldest of the Old Ones.

The White Lodge is . . .
. . . a.k.a. the Master’s Circle of Elemental Masters, and is based in Alderscroft’s club, the Exeter. It was created to self-police their own kind. No women allowed. Stewart is the doorman. The Founder’s Suite is on the top floor. Atherton Crey; Thomas Markham, who is a viscount; Nigel, Lord Lytton; and, Scaithwaite, who may be old but still has a keen mind and an agile body.

David, Lord Alderscroft (his father, Trevor, died two years ago), a.k.a. the Wizard of London and the Young Lion, is a cold Fire Master who dreams of revealing the existence of Masters and Mages to the government. Harwinton House is his ancestral home. James is his secretary. Colin Foxward is his estate manager.

The snooty Lady Cordelia Bryce-Coll, an Air Master who deals in COLD and with some Fire ability, is Alderscroft’s mentor. Graves is one of the maids. Mrs Talbot is the housekeeper. Peggoty is a child, dying, brought to one of Cordelia’s “shelters”. Robert and Albert are the poor orphans Cordelia chooses for her latest experiment.

The Tower of London is . . .
. . . home to the ravens without which England would fall. Hollis is the Ravenmaster of the Yeomen Warders who is in charge of the care of the ravens. Neville is a particularly feisty raven, who intends to get his way.

Katherine Broughmont is a good friend of Isabelle’s who lost her son, Edward. I think Laurie is their daughter. Lady Harrington is a friend of Katherine’s. Lord Babington is the one who persuaded the Broughmonts to send their son to Overton. Madame Vronsky is a medium with a good scam. Paganini, a master violinist, is her spirit guide.

Beatrice DeLancy had been a schoolmate of Isabelle’s; she’s Lady Nigel Lytton now. Nigel’s Talent is in Earth. “Doomsday” Dainwrite is the head of the import firm where Sahib works.

Nigel Pettigrew was a nasty passenger in with the other children being escorted to England. Nkumba had been clawed up by a lion. Beatrice Leek, a witch, has disdain for Aleister Crowley. An Ice Wurm is the Elemental opposite of a Salamander. Mrs Venhill is an ambitious guest at a house party at Mansell Hall.

The Cover and Title

The cover is primarily a soft teal with snowflakes falling down the right side of the cover and Big Ben in a faded white on the left side. There’s an inset bordered in a wide brown with a thinner white mat border, framing Lord Alderscroft with black top hat, cane, black coat, and a cream shirt and vest. Behind him is a deep teal Ice Wurm. At the top is the author’s name in an embossed gold with a white shine. To the left and in the middle is an epigraph in black. Flying up at the lower left edge of the inset are the black Neville and the gray Grey. At the very bottom right is the title in black. There’s no series info. Dang it.

The title is all about Lord Alderscroft, The Wizard of London, although most of the story revolves around Nan, Sarah, and the Harton School.

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