Friday, September 28, 2007

The Serpent's Shadow

The Serpent's Shadow

Mercedes Lackey

Date: 2002-03-01   —   Book

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Fiction, Fantasy

This entry in the Elemental Masters series is, like its counterparts, based on a traditional fairy tale. I was vastly amused to find that this tale of an early-twentieth century half-caste* female doctor who has come to the wilds of England to be the story of Snow White. More amusing is the Lord Peter Wimsey cognate (Lord Peter Almsley, who even has the proper style of family.) In fact, for those who come to this book after most of the rest of the series, the book is full of recognizeable faces, including the Wizard of London and Fenix.

Maya, the young doctor, has managed to get her license validated, and endeavors to make her practice in those areas that the almost universally male medical system ignores: female problems, particularly those that need discretion, sterile surgery, and actually thinking of the poor as humans and worth saving. This brings her into a little conflict, but the primary danger to her is the one she fled India to avoid: a witch of sorts with a grudge against her because of her parents. However, she has the love and attention of her friends, the strange dwarf cognates, and her Prince Charming: a former sailor who dares to think that a woman and a half-caste might actually have a brain and be worth speaking with.

Of course it ends happily. Lackey does the fairy tales in the commonly accepted way, where they all have happy endings. Somehow, I don't think she's ever going back to the source material of some of them.

*For those not familiar with the term, "half-caste" is a term used to describe someone with a British parent and an Indian parent, and at the time, rejected by both cultures. It's not particularly compliemntary but, in this case, is intended to be descriptive.

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