The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters, #1)
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The Serpent's Shadow

by Mercedes Lackey
Release date: 2001
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasy

Maya Witherspoon had lived most of the fist twenty-five years of her life in her native India. As the daught of a prominent British physician and a Brahmin woman of the highest caste, she had known only luxury. Trained by her father in the medical arts shince she was old enough to read, she graduated from the University of Delhi as a Doctor of Medicine by the age of twenty-two. Welcomed into her father's lucurative practice, she treated many of the wives and daughters of the British military personnel who made up a large percentage of their patients in the colonial India of 1909.

But the science of medicine was not Maya's only heritage. For Maya's aristocratic mother Surya had not just defied her family, friends and religion to marry Maya's father, she had turned her back on their family's powerful magical traditions as well. For her mother was a soceress - a former priestess of the mystical magics fueled by the powerful and fearsom pantheon of Indian gods.

Though Maya felt the stirring of magic in her blood, her mother had repeatedly refused to train her. "I cannot" she had said, her eyes dark with distress whenever Maya asked "yours is the magic of your father's bood, not mine..." Surya had never had the chance to explain this enigmatic statement to her daughter, before cholera claimed her life. Yet Maya suspected that something far more sinister than the virulent disease had overcome her powerful mother.

But it was Maya's father's death shortly thereafter which confired her darkest suspecions. For her father was killed by the bite of a krait, a tiny venomous snake. In the last hours of her mother's life, in the seeming delirium of her final fever, Surya had repeatedly warned Maya to beware "the serpent's shadow." With the sudden loss of her father, Maya knew she must flee the land of her birth or face the same fate as her parents.

In self-imposed exile in London, Maya surrounded herself with every protection possible. All the magic Maya knew had been learned by covertly observing her mother, and by cobbling bits knowledge together with the street-magic gleaned from a few genuine fakirs. Her workings were a mixture of instinct, extrapolation, and trial and error. Crode, but somewhat effective, her spells let Maya hide her household behind a wall of secrecy in a poorer section of the city. Here in a small but adequate house, she lived with only the most loyal of her mother's servants and her mother's seven unusual "pets" - if you could use such a word for creatures who seemed far more like friends.

 

(updated 2016-09-12)

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