In the wake of the successful movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, bookstores have been flooded with new high fantasy. Much of it is derivative and badly written; some is well written and singular. Among the rare and glorious successes is Laurie J. Marks's Fire Logic, an original, skillfully written, powerfully imagined novel of war and intrigue, a high fantasy that owes little to Tolkien's trilogy, though both are intelligent, adult works that may also be enjoyed by younger readers.|
In the world of Fire Logic, the rare individuals born with magic talent are known as elementals, because they possess the power of fire, earth, air, or water. The fire elemental Emil is a Paladin, a Shaftali soldier-scholar who is about to embark on his most desired studies when the invading Sainnites capture the capitol and kill the wizard ruler, leaving no heir; now Emil must become a war commander in the remnants of the Shaftali army. Another fire elemental, Zanja na'Tarwein, is the Ashawala'i Speaker, but she cannot convince her own people of the full danger of the Sainnites. Karis, a half-giant blacksmith, has tremendous earth powers that might defeat the Sainnites--if she weren't addicted to a potent, deadly drug that steals her will. Her guardian, Norina the Truthken, is an air elemental able to see through any lie, yet she is blind to dangerous truths about both her half-giant charge and Paladin treachery.
Source: Cynthia Ward, Amazon.com.
Earth. Air. Water. Fire.
These elements have sustained the peaceful people of Shaftal for generations, with their subtle powers of healing, truth, joy, and intuition.
But now Shaftal is dying.
The earth witch who ruled Shaftal is dead, leaving no heir. Shaftal's ruling house has been scattered and destroyed by the invading Sainnites. The Shaftali have mobilized a guerrilla army against these marauders, but every year the cost of resistance grows, leaving Shaftal's fate in the hands of three people:
Emil the Shaftali paladin: an officer and a scholar whose elemental powers make him an excellent judge of character;
Zanja the diplomat: the sole survivor of a slaughtered tribe, her fire powers bringing the gift of prescience;
Karis the metalsmith: a half-blood giant whose earth powers can heal and create, but only when she can muster the strength to hold off her addiction to a deadly drug that suspends her will.
Separately, all they can do is watch as Shaftal falls from prosperity into lawlessness and famine. If they can find a way to work together, they may just change the course of history.
In the tradition of Ursula K. Le Guin and Elizabeth Lynn, Laurie J. Marks weaves a complex tale of political and personal struggle, set in a world whose concerns are as familiar as today's headlines.