For as long as she could remember, Marina Roeswood had lived in an old, rambling farmhouse in rural Cornwall in the care of close friends of her wealthy, aristocratic parents. In the seventeen years that she had been fostered by Sebastian and Margherita Tarrant, and Margherita's brother, Thomas Buford, she had lived an almost idyllic existence. As the ward of three bohemian artists in turn-of-the-century England, she had grown to be a free thinker in an environment of fertile creativity and cultural sophistication. under their loving private tutelage, Marian had learned to read and translate five languages, and was as literate as any well-bred woman of her era.
But the real core of her education was far outside societal norms. For she and her foster parents were Elemental Masters of magic, and learning to control her growing powers was Marina's primary focus. Each of them commanded the magic of a specific element. Margherita and her brother Thomas were Earth Masters, Sebastian was a Fire Master, and Marina herself was a fledgling Water Master of enormous potential, with a lesser affinity for the element of Air. Marina loved nothing more than to sit by a stream or small waterfall, watching or communing with the lesser Water Elementals, Undines, and Naiads. When she played her lute, harp, or flute, she was sometimes event graced by the presence of Air Elementals, the Sylphs and Zephyrs whom Sebastian had said were her allies, though why she might need allies, Marina had no clue.
Actually, there were quite a few mysteries about her life that Marina wasn't able to solve. Why, for example, had she never seen her parents, or been to Oakhurst, her family's ancestral manor in Devon? Her mother and father assured her fervently, in every letter, that they loved her and longed for her presence, yet if her parents loved her so much, why had they sent her away so young, and why had they never once visited her? And why hadn't her real parents, who were also Earth Masters, trained her themselves? Why did neither her foster parents nor her real parents ever attend the Great Circle of Elemental Masters in London? That there was a secret about all this she had known from the time she had begun to question the world around her. Yet try as she might, she could get no clues out of her guardians and instinct told her that a confrontation would cause great pain to her birth mother.
But Marina would have answers to her questions all too soon.
For with the sudden death of her birth parents while on holiday in Italy, Marina's life was transformed beyond all recognition. Taken from the only home and "parents" she had ever known and brought to the cold and lofty halls of Oakhurst Manor, she met her new guardian - her closest surviving blood relative - her father's eldest sister Arachne. Cold, aristocratic, and superior, Aunt Arachne was an industrialist. Her pottery factories brought her a great deal of wealth and power, but Marina sensed that Arachne's real power came from something far different than commerce. For Arachne exuded a dark magical aura unlike anything Marina had encountered, a stifling evil that seemed to threaten Marina's very spirit. Slowly Marina realized that her aunt was the very embodiment of th endanger her parents had been hiding her from in the backwoods of Cornwall. But could Marina unravel the secrets of her life in time to save her from the evil which had been seeking her for nearly eighteen years?
Mercedes Ritchie Lackey (born 1950) is an American writer of fantasy novels. Many of her novels and trilogies are interlinked and set in the world of Velgarth, mostly in and around the country of Valdemar. Her Valdemar novels form a complex tapestry of interaction between human and non-human protagonists with many different cultures and social mores.
Her other main world is one much like our own, but it includes clandestine populations of elves, mages, vampires, and other mythical beings. The Bedlam's Bard books describe a young man with the power to work magic through music; the SERRAted Edge books are about racecar driving elves; and the Diana Tregarde thrillers center on a Wiccan who combats evil.
She has also ... (more)