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.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Earth Logic

Laurie J. Marks's Earth Logic is the sequel to her fine fantasy novel Fire Logic. It's about four years later, and the main characters are living together. Zanja is a fire witch who uses cards to see the present. Medric and Emil are loves who also have fire logic. Norina is a Truthken, able to tell if others are speaking the truth and can bind them to oaths. Leeba is her daughter and J'han, a healer, is her husband. Karis, imbued with earth logic, is the G'deon of Shaftal, their spiritual leader. Much of the story involves Karis's reluctance to take any decisive action against the Sainnites, the soldiers that have invaded Shaftal.

Two new characters enter this story. Garland is a Sainnite cook who is wandering the land, unable to settle down due to being a foreigner and a deserter. Lieutenant-General Clement is a Sainnite woman who is the dedicated to her leader General Cadmar, but who has doubts about the war they are waging.

The action starts with a plague infesting the land, and Clement receives mysterious instructions on how to stay healthy. Karis travels with Zanja and J'han to the lands to the south to heal the sick, and there she finds the relatives of her mother. Meanwhile, a band of raiders attacks the Watfield garrison where Clement and Cadmar live. In response, they go through the countryside stealing children to replace their lost soldiers. The children are sent to the children's garrison to the south to be trained, though many do not survive the plague.

Emil and Zanja find a book written by the last G'deon to Karis and send it to Karis to read. She finally meets Mabin, the military leader of the Paladins, and they make a sort of peace. Emil and the other fire bloods come to the realization that they must send Zanja to another death, one more boundary she must cross. But Norina tricks them and Zanja only loses her memory, survives and is picked up by a pregnant prostitute on the way home to Watfield.

Clement is approached by a man offering critical intelligence for the return of his daughter. Clement makes the trip to the children's garrison in the bitter cold and snow, then learns that the same people who attacked her garrison are planning on attacking the children's garrison to rescue all the children. She takes a contingent there and surprises the attackers, killing them all. When she returns she adopts the baby of the prostitute. Zanja, separated from her spirit and her memories, is known only as the storyteller, who trades stories for stories with the soldiers of the garrison. But she helps Clement find a wet nurse for the baby.

Karis and the others make their way to Watfield to make a peace offer to the Sainnites. Clement is intrigued, having become disillusioned with the war. But Cadmar is stubborn. Clement is touched when Karis gives her a vial of liquid to heal her baby. Karis confronts Cadmar, realizes he is her father, and attacks him. When Cadmar later dies, Clement makes peace with Karis.

This is a good followup to the first book. It deals with the challenge of a peaceful people changing their nature to fight off a violent people. How much of your nature can you keep if fighting violates your values? Clement provides a lot of reflection on the ways of the Sainnites, who always take children to be trained as soldiers. She comes to realize how this had damaged her people. When she adopts the Shaftalese boy, she gains empathy and an insight into what her people have become. Karis breaks out of her paralysis to actually do something. She encounters her mother's relatives, her predecessor's message, and finally her father. She discovers herself and finds a future for Shaftal.

As usual, the characters are fascinating to watch. At first reading about the main characters all living together seemed a bit like watching a familiar sitcom. Then they go about their different activities and things get interesting. The great thing about these books is that it's not just about plot but also character. The characters drive the story. There's a definite sense of purpose behind all of them. A-


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