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The Element of Fire by Martha Wells
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The Element of Fire (original 1993; edition 2006)

by Martha Wells

Series: Ile-Rien (1)

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3781028,549 (4.02)44
Member:GhostWriter57
Title:The Element of Fire
Authors:Martha Wells
Info:Martha Wells (2006), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:2013
Rating:****
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The Element of Fire by Martha Wells (1993)

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» See also 44 mentions

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The best fantasy I’ve read in at least a year. If you enjoy GRRM’s Song of Ice and Fire series, you should pick this book up as well. The old king is dead. In his place rules his only living son, the weak and ineffectual King Roland, who is utterly at the command of his treacherous childhood friend. It falls to the dowager queen Ravenna and her faithful, but aging, Captain of the Queen’s Guard to keep the country together. Into this already explosive situation comes Roland’s bastard sister Kaid, who is the fey daughter of the Queen of Air and Darkness, and a serial killing renegade magician. Internecine court politics, well-rounded characters, and a whole lot of adventure combine to make this a truly enjoyable book. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
The Element of Fire is Martha Wells debut fantasy novel, which is she put up for free online after it became hard to find in the US. While I don’t think it’s the best Martha Wells novel I’ve read, it’s still an enjoyable read. The Element of Fire focuses on court politics in Il-Rien, a setting similar to 16th century European courts. Urbain Grandier, a powerful master of sorcery, is plotting against the throne of King Roland, who mainly leaves ruling to his mother, the Dowager Queen Ravenna. Meanwhile, Kade, the illegitimate daughter of the former king and a fairy queen, has also arrived in Il-Rien.

My favorite part of The Element of Fire is the characterization of the central characters, in particular the two leads. The narrative alternates between the POV of Kade and Thomas Boniface, Captain of the Queen’s Guard. Kade manages to have something of the otherworldly Fey about her while still remaining a fully formed and intelligent lead. Thomas, Ravenna’s former lover, is dutiful and also has a wonderful wit. Ravenna was another stand out character for me. She is forceful and determined, an older woman who still remains at the center of power.

While I liked the main characters, I did have some trouble keeping track of the secondary characters, especially in the first half of the novel. There’s still some plot points there I think I missed because of it. The Element of Fire begins in the middle of the action, which was exciting but meant that it took me a while to be able to figure out what was going on.

While there weren’t any gaping holes in the setting, it felt a bit bare boned. There wasn’t the imagination you can see in many of Wells’ other settings, and it didn’t have the atmosphere of The Death of the Necromancer. The fairy elements especially could have used more exploration.

While it could be slow moving in parts, I really enjoyed The Element of Fire for its complex characterization and likable leads. If you’re unfamiliar with Martha Wells, I’d suggest trying one of her later books first, but The Element of Fire is still a book I would recommend.

Originally on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Jan 16, 2016 |
This revised edition is even better: The original edition of Element of Fire was loads of fun, and this revised version is even better. Ms Wells has tightened the writing even further and eliminated a few inconsistencies (left over from earlier drafts?).

The setting resembles the 17th century Paris of The Three Musketeers, but with sorcery, magic, and the perils of Faery added. The result is a rich, original and fascinating background. Add a break-neck plot and a cast of cynical, witty and fully realised characters, and you have an instant classic.
2 vote iayork | Aug 9, 2009 |
This is a great book. The characters are appealing and heroic. The plot is very well-paced with a completely believable world. ( )
  jadebird | Jan 12, 2009 |
Classic fantasy ideas with a twist -- like common sense, logic and realism. If you took the real world and real people with real motives, and put them all in an alternate historical earth with magic and fairies, packaged with a sense of humor and a sense of justice, it might look something like this. Swashbuckling without being mindless; smart, quick, and funny. Great for lovers of history, adventure, and fairy tales, all. But that's true of every Martha Wells book. This book in particular is about family, betrayal, deception, politics and love, with a wild fey sorceress, an evil sorcerer, dueling nobles, a canny queen, and a boy-king who needs to learn some lessons if he's ever going to rule. Read it for some intelligent and highly entertaining fantasy. ( )
  Impstar | Jun 6, 2008 |
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It’s Martha Wells’ debut novel, and ...singularly accomplished. It situates itself at a remove from the faux-medievalism of high fantasy ... it has the flavour of ancien régime France while being wholly, entirely, its own thing.

Wells’ deftness of characterisation is delicate, precise and astute. An outside attack ... intensifies the amount of politicking and the coming-to-fruition of treasonous plots. The characters, down to the least of them, are no blank placeholders. Wells has a fantastic touch for conjuring personality in all of her work, and here the characters of Kade and Thomas, particularly—Kade roguish, damaged, fey and honourable in her own way; Thomas world-weary, cynical, and loyal where his loyalty is given—come alive in their interactions with their world.
added by feeling.is.first | editTor.com, Liz Bourke (Apr 15, 2013)
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Martha Wellsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Peterson, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A New Philosophy calls all in doubt,
The Element of fire is quite put out:
The Sun is lost, and th'earth, and no man's wit
Can well direct him where to looke for it.
—John Donne, "An Anatomie of the World"
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The grappling hook skittered across the rain-slick stone of the ledge before dropping to catch in the grillwork below the third-story window.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0615135714, Paperback)

The Element of Fire was first published in the US by Tor Books in 1993, and has been published in six languages. It was a finalist for the 1993 Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Award and a runner-up for the 1994 Crawford Award. This new edition has b

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:54 -0400)

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