I do not often read short stories because they do not seem complete enough for me. However, there are a couple authors I will make exceptions for, Charles De Lint and Mercedes Lackey.
Lackey edits this collection of Elemental Masters' tales written by some of the big writers in Scifi and Fantasy. There are seventeen original stories, and she even writes the last story herself. I was led to believe from the cover of the book and the write up this book got that the authors would be adapting characters Lackey had created. Instead these original stories invent many new characters. Only one story uses Sarah and Nan from the Wizard of London. Most of them were engaging and interesting but all of them felt like they were ideas that would have been better developed into full length novels. Many of the stories felt like they had been cut down to size in order to fit into the book and left out a lot of the emotion that I usually associate with Lackey's writing. Lackey's story was one of the better as dealing with this, but I believe we will be seeing Miriam and Jacob of New England in one of Lackey's future books because there was too much tension and too many unanswered questions.
It was very interesting to see the interpretations the other authors had about Elemental magicians and how they interact with the world. In many of Lackey's books the characters are either Good or Evil, which is not the case in the real world. The story "The Collector" by Ron Collins, was the best re interpretation of what a person would really do with magic. Full of hatred at the injustice against freed slaves that still fills the US into the late 1890s, and crippled from fighting in San Juan, Gamba is raging inside against everything. When trapped by an evil magician Gamba is faced with a choice, use his magic for good or seek vengeance. He never goes down the path to evil, but he is still consumed by a motivation for change. Because of this he uses his magic in an evil way for what he believes will be a good end, and that is the interesting part. Will you sympathize with him or vilify him?
A lot of the stories contained the usual romances you expect of one of the Elemental Masters books, but because they were all short stories, none of the romances ever played out. This, I believe, made them seem bittersweet or too flat. I do hope that in future collections maybe the characters will be revisited and continue to evolve.
If you are a hard core Mercedes Lackey fan, then I think you should read it even if you miss the depth of her usual novels. But if you are not familiar with the Masters series or the way Lackey writes, I think you will be disappointed with the stories.