You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fire Logic

Every once in a while one comes across a book that has an excellent blend of plot and character, setting and theme. Laurie J. Marks' fantasy novel Fire Logic is such a book.

The background is a land in turmoil. The land of Shaftal has been invaded by the Sainnites, and the government has been overthrown. Zanja, a fire blood, is a member of the Ashawala'i, a tribe of people in the lands north of Shaftal. When the Sainnites attack her people, she is captured and tortured, the last of her people.

But she is rescued by Karis, an earth blood woman who is addicted to smoke, the Sainnite drug that has pervaded Shaftal. Karis heals her and takes her to her home. Karis' protector Norina, an air blood truthteller, forces Zanja to leave and join the Paladins under Emil, a commander at South Hill and another fire blood. There Zanja proves her worth, giving the Paladins information using her prescience. Zanja comes to realize that the Sainnites destroying South Hill have their own prescient, and eventually she meets him. What follows is an intricate dance between rivals, all the more intriguing when the enemy seer, Medric, announces he wishes to come to the other side and make amends.

Zanja is soon betrayed by one of her own and end up in the care of Norina. But soon they discover that Karis has been kidnapped and subjected to enough smoke to kill her. Zanja rescues her with the help of Emil and Medric. Later, the same people kidnap Zanja to for Karis to come to her aid. Karis finally connects with the Earth and rids herself of the smoke addiction. It is an awakening that is physical and spiritual, as well as sexual. Once again Karis rescues Zanja and takes her home, where they finally consummate their relationship.

It is a pleasant experience to read a story that is so fresh and interesting. I was genuinely surprised by some of the plot twists. At every turn, not only is there a new plot development, but we learn something about the characters. The powers of the characters are very subtle--the fire logic is not a wild flagrant kind of magic but a kind of extended intuition. The powers and the characters and the plots complement and build on each other.

The characters are strong and well developed. They stay away from fantasy stereotypes, and the results are refreshing. Zanja is a fiercely independent woman and a strong warrior. She and Karis share a close bond after Karis rescues her. Their relationship goes through shifts and transformations. Karis goes from the rescuer to the rescued, then regains her true powers and saves Zanja again. Emil is an intelligent leader in a tough position. Norina and Medric are less well drawn, but are still strong characters who help drive the story.

Karis' ability to heal and her painful weakness mirror the land that is split by the two peoples. Health and healing are a central theme of the story. Karis must heal herself, with the help of her friends, in order to heal others and the land. Nearly everyone is broken in one way or another. The ending is a terrific wrap-up of the plot. It's a great book and I look forward to reading the sequel. A


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