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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three excellent and one good story of mystical romance
This book consists of four stories, loosely themed around Air, Earth, Water and Flame. The stories are all widely different but each has its own fascinating concepts with appealing characters.

BARGAIN WITH THE WIND by SHARON SHINN
This first story in the collection was a beguiling tale apparently set in England in the Regency period. Duncan Baler has...
Published on 20 Nov 2007 by Helen Hancox

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average.
This compilation of short stories written by Sharon Shinn, Carol Berg, Rebecca York, Carol Berg and Jean Johnson are each based about one of the four elements: fire, earth, air, water.

"Bargain With the Wind" by Sharon Shinn. At Grey Moraine Lord Baler meets Lady Charis, who is in trouble. As they elope he is remains ignorant of the air that surrounds him, but...
Published on 22 Nov 2007 by xenofan


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average., 22 Nov 2007
By 
xenofan "xenofan" (Kansas, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Elemental Magic (Paperback)
This compilation of short stories written by Sharon Shinn, Carol Berg, Rebecca York, Carol Berg and Jean Johnson are each based about one of the four elements: fire, earth, air, water.

"Bargain With the Wind" by Sharon Shinn. At Grey Moraine Lord Baler meets Lady Charis, who is in trouble. As they elope he is remains ignorant of the air that surrounds him, but could kill him.

"Birthright" by Jean Johnson. Elrik the mage escorts Arasa on a quest to learn who will inherit the fire.

"Unmasking" by Carol Berg. Joelle is a searcher, who has failed at passing the final exam that would allow her to fight demons; yet whether it is in water or land, she will use her skill anyway to save those she can like Gareth the vegetable farmer.

"Huntress Moon" by Rebecca York. Although she feels as if she is on hell on earth, to save her mother from a terrible fate, Zarah accepts being sold as a slave, who must spy on Griffin to regain her freedom.

Being a fan of both Sharon Shinn and Carol Berg, I was most excited when I learnt that both were contributing to this book. And indeed, their stories stand out as being my favorites. Although Birthright was very interesting too, and I will be looking into further books by this author.

I really didn't like Huntress Moon though. There didn't seem enough depth or emotion in the characters, the whole thing felt very rushed, and the ending was fairly predictable (too much was given away too soon). The romance was difficult to believe real, and the love making scenes read more like an errotic fantasy (not my kinda thing). There were a few scenes that seemed pointless and some serious conflicts were resolved far too quickly. It all felt a bit childish and simplistic really.

The other three stories were enjoyable and kept my interest throughout. Unfortunately, none of them were entirely memorable, nor the sort of thing I'd want to read again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three excellent and one good story of mystical romance, 20 Nov 2007
By 
Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Elemental Magic (Paperback)
This book consists of four stories, loosely themed around Air, Earth, Water and Flame. The stories are all widely different but each has its own fascinating concepts with appealing characters.

BARGAIN WITH THE WIND by SHARON SHINN
This first story in the collection was a beguiling tale apparently set in England in the Regency period. Duncan Baler has recently inherited the house Grey Moraine after the death of his uncle and his cousin on the same day. Duncan arranges a social event at the house and it is gatecrashed by a beautiful young woman, Charis, who immediately catches Duncan's attention. Over the next week Duncan and Charis spend time together and then get married and Charis begins to settle into life as Lady of the Manor.

However things might not be as they seem. The whole story is narrated from the point of view of the housekeeper, Nettie, and she spends a great deal of her time listening at keyholes and overhearing conversations in other rooms. Nettie begins to suspect that Charis may have some secrets she is hiding from her husband. Why, for example, does she seem bent on alienating the next most important household in the county? Why is she so worried after hearing Nettie's explanations of the Air Spirits and the disastrous bargains young women will make with them to get what they want? What is Charis's secret and is she something other than she appears?

This story is well written and always interesting as we learn, along with Nettie, in snatches of overheard conversation, what's actually going on. If this is set in the English Regency period there are some historical and language mistakes but they are common errors and don't detract too much from the story. It's an interesting read and wasn't at all predictable which I very much liked. Five stars.

BIRTHRIGHT by JEAN JOHNSON
This story almost couldn't be more different than the first in this collection - one of the advantages (and sometimes disadvantages) of collections of this nature. This story is set in a fantasy world with mages and magical lore. Arasa is on a quest to discover whether she or her twin sister were the firstborn as there was some doubt at their birth. Arasa has discovered a way of finding out by retreading a walk that one of her ancestors did between "The Womb" and "The Heart". "the Heart" is the name of their major city but the only "Womb" she knows is in a faraway land. The story starts as Arasa is trying to find a good map of the route to the Womb of Tarden; she is almost tricked by an unscrupulous chap but fortunately a Mage who is also in the Inn offers her the use of a Truth Stone and it soon becomes apparent that the map-seller was trying to confuse her. In discussion with the Mage she very quickly discovers that she's on the wrong track for the "Womb" anyway and that it actually refers to a temple in her own land. She and the Mage, Elrik, agree to travel together to her land so that he can visit the Mage academy and so that she has some protection on the way.

When they arrive Arasa discovers her twin has also discovered a way of finding the true firstborn but isn't willing to discuss it. She says that Arasa's method is better and so the twins set out on the journey with Elrik and her sister's fiancé alongside. However there's some unexpected danger on the way and Arasa has to decide whether to step up to the position of power and authority that she has or to take the easier road which may have long-term negative consequences.

There's a romance in this story between Arasa and Elrik which was very endearing to read and in fact the whole story was enjoyable from beginning to end. The setting was different, the writing style good and the overall story was very well done, although I felt the pronunciation guide given at the start was rather too self-important for a short story! Five stars.

UNMASKING by CAROL BERG
Yet another great story, and another completely different read from the other two so far in this collection. In this story Joelle is in training as a Searcher, a special kind of sorcerer for those who have the greatest magical skills. However she always seems to fail the final tests and so can't graduate to become a true Searcher and these failures are causing her great anguish.

When trespassing at a sacred pool one night she sees a man who shouldn't be there and initially thinks he is a Warden, another kind of sorcerer, until her companion, Kenehyr, points out that his hands weren't clean (something that a true Warden would ensure). Joelle reports this to the magical authorities who conclude he must be the spy they have heard of from another land, trying to find out whether there is true magic within her country or just some illusions. A complex plan is created to trick this spy into believing that the people don't have real magic and Joelle is chosen to be part of this plan, along with a Tenyddar, a man with no magic who works on the land. However when Joelle meets her Tenyddar she recognises him instantly as the man at the pool and things start to get more complex.

This story was fascinating, particularly with regard to the relationship between Joelle and Bran/Gareth as they try to trick the spy. Bran/Gareth's position in society is at the lowest point as a farmer without magic and yet Joelle begins to see that some people can make more of themselves than perhaps others might think. Equally he is able to help her to understand her failures and their significance. This isn't really a romance as the romantic element is tiny but it's an excellent story about understanding other people and the possibilities that exist within them. Five stars.

HUNTRESS MOON by REBECCA YORK
This last story in the collection was not as enjoyable as the rest although still a reasonable read. It follows the variable fortunes of Zarah, a nobleman's daughter who has fallen on hard times. Her father has been executed for apparently embezzling money and her mother is dying of cancer; Zarah is told by Scanlon, head of the city White Flint, that if she agrees to spy on Griffin, head of Sun Acres, her mother will get healing treatment. Zarah's role, in spying on Griffin, will be that of his mistress. She eventually agrees, knowing that her own honour is less important than her mother's life.

Zarah's journey to Sun Acres is dangerous but she is helped by Quinn, another of the slaves. When Zarah is chosen by Griffin and taken to his house she begins to question whether she should be spying on him because he seems to be a far more good and honourable man than Scanlon. However when he finds out that she is a spy things look bad for her. Quinn's role in the story becomes more important, and Zarah's magical skills prove to be a great help to Griffin.

This story was written quite simply and without any great depth to the characters. I found the rapidity of Zarah's fall to slavery and then subsequent rise to a position of importance pretty startling, especially as everyone knew she had been a slave. I was also unsure about some of her motivations and of the almost instant 'falling in love' between hero and heroine. It was a pleasant enough read but lacked the depth of the other stories. Three Stars.

In conclusion, this is an excellent collection of short stories with three outstanding and one reasonable tale. Three of the four are fantasies and the fourth is a historical story but they are all very different from each other and consider different themes with varying characters. This should be a really good read for those who like to read mystical romances.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the elements of love, 23 April 2008
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elemental Magic (Paperback)
four novellas, all running about 90 - 100 pages, all themed around the elements and fantasy and romance.

I brought this because I like the writing of sharon shinn, the author of the first tale. I was not familiar with the other three writers prior to this.

Sharon shinn produces a very good tale that is a new spin on the cinderella story, with a woman finding romance after a bargain, but having to pay a price. a well realised setting and some good characters who you can care about result in a memorable tale with a final scene you won't forget in a hurry.

The second story involves a princess on a quest getting involved with a man who helps her out, and both finding their destiny. the romance is predictable and the plot is a bit slow till the end but it's very well written and quite engaging, although the elemental tie is a bit cursory

the third story has a similar problem, and covers predictable ground with a lady with magic talents facing problems and romantic entanglement. I really couldnt get into this one, but the other two reviewers speak well of it so maybe it's just me. Judge for yourselves.

The fourth one involves a lady with a magic talent being sent to spy on a man. And you can probably guess what happens next. this was well written if predictable and the elemental tie in again seems cursory. be aware though that this one is fairly explicit erotic fantasy so may not be to all tastes.

So not a bad collection all in all, and worth 4/5
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3.0 out of 5 stars Started on a good note, 26 May 2014
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This review is from: Elemental Magic (Kindle Edition)
Sharon Shinn story good but the others gradually got worse. |Last story was gratuitous sex unconvincing. I was disappointed as I was expecting more Sharon Shinn content.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 11 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Elemental Magic (Kindle Edition)
I have seen recommendations for Sharon Shinn on the forums and decided to buy this anthology to dip the toe in the water.

Based on the story in this book, I will be reading more of Shinn's work. I also enjoyed the stories by Berg and Johnson.

Overall the stories provide a nice mix of magic and romance. The elemental themes are developed in very different ways and in very different worlds. York is the weakest link having the noble girl sold as virgin slave plot which didn't offer anything new
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