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The Fire Rose (1995)

by Mercedes Lackey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Elemental Masters (1)

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1,862357,608 (3.87)136
Beauty Meets Beast in San Francisco Accepting employment as a governess after hard times hit her family, medieval scholar Rosalind Hawkins is surprised when she learns that her mysterious employer has no children, no wife, and she is not to meet with him face to face. Instead, her duties are to read to him, through a speaking tube, from ancient manuscripts in obscure, nearly forgotten dialects. A requirement for the job was skill in translating medieval French, and she now understands the reason for that requirement, and assumes her unseen employer's interest in the descriptions of medieval spells and sorcery is that of an eccentric antiquary. What she does not realize is that his interest is anything but academic. He has a terrible secret and is desperately searching for something that can reverse the effects of the misfired spell which created his predicament.… (more)
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» See also 136 mentions

English (34)  German (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
I know that this was Lackey's first book in her Elemental series, but since I've read all of the other ones before having read this one, I feel a bit spoiled. This one was not bad, but neither was it as wonderful as some of the other ones in the series. If you look past the heavy-handedness and some uncomfortable notions though, it's still worth the read. ( )
  bookwyrmqueen | Oct 25, 2021 |
When this was originally published 1995, it was a stand-alone. Book 2 in the series didn't follow until 2001.

Following the death of her professor father, scholar Rosalind ("Rose") Hawkins is left destitute in 1905 Chicago. Her doctoral supervisor persuades her to take a post in California with a rail baron who wants a modern tutor for his children, especially his daughter. After a multi-day rail journey across the Great Plains and the Rockies, Rose finally reaches her destination - a lonely estate outside San Francisco. Things are not what they seem - there are no children, rail baron Jason Cameron actually wants a research assistant into esoteric matters. He is a master of the element of Fire and a spell he should not have attempted (an Earth spell) has left him in the form of a man-wolf. He has retreated from society and retired to his estate and is served by Salamanders.

This is basically a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story (the subsequent books are in the same vein). Lackey has deftly transposed it from it's aristocratic European setting into robber baron era America, keeping some elements but loosing the happy ending. The ending is happy in a way - but not in the way of the fairytale. The premise of the world building is that magic exists and follows (in the West) the 4 elements. Oriental magic is touched on - it has similarities to the Western system, but is not identical. History has followed roughly the same course as our world - the Chicago fire was caused by warring elemental masters, the fire following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (which a Chinese Earth master tries to prevent) follows the death of Cameron's rival Fire master.

I've badged it as an urban fantasy, but it could equally be badged as a secret history. It is not a paranormal romance - although there is a romance element to the story (the interaction between Jason Cameron and Rose Hawkins turns to a love story) it is not in the foreground.

Recommended.
  Maddz | Jun 3, 2018 |
A retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in San Francisco in the early 1900's. Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series revolves around magicians with affinities for an element (Earth, Air, Fire, Water). This is the first in the series (though really, while set in the same world and having some overlapping charactesr, they can be read in any order).

Rose is a bit of a bluestocking (much like Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast) and Jason Cameron is a magician who brings a "curse" in the form of a magical accident down upon himself through his own arrogance (much as Disney's Beast offends a witch with his snooty self and get himself cursed). James is a fire master, and his servants are salamanders, the elemental of fire. (Rather than talking tea pots and candlesticks as in Disney's version, or the invisible spirits/servants in some other versions.)

I love this retelling of Beauty and the Beast because it's about seeing through the surface to the true heart of a person, and Jason is NOT a "beast" in nature. Many modern retellings of Beauty and the Beast seem to involve a guy who is beastly in NATURE, not in appearance (or both), and then the heroine endures his horribleness and tries to "save" him and change him. Even the watered down Disney version features Belle enduring the rages and temper of the beast (though she rages right back, sometimes, which is nice, I guess). Rose and Jason develop a relationship based on mutual respect, which is a refeshing change in much of these fairy tale retellings which are often just overblown excuses to write smut. (No smut involved, by the way - if you're looking for a steamy read, this is not your book. Though there is plenty of romance and tugging of the heartstrings.)

This is my favorite novelization of the Beauty and the Best fairy tale. I'll let you know if I find a better one, but it's not likely. ;) ( )
  ElleyOtter | Nov 28, 2017 |
Well, I finally got to reading the first in this series. It's definitely different in tone from the later books. It's easy to see how things in the book universe developed over time. Overall, I quite enjoyed it.

And yes, I read it in a morning. ( )
  Serenova_Phoenix | Jun 26, 2017 |
Rosalind Hawkins is screwed. She had been in the middle of getting her masters degree when her father died, leaving behind a mountain of debts and no way to pay them off. Now all Rose has to her name is a couple of ratty dresses and handful of worthless mementos. And since this is 1905 her options of employment are pretty limited. So when Rose receives a job offer to be a governess for the railroad baron, Jason Cameron, she accepts it and moves to San Francisco. But when Rose arrives at Cameron’s estate she finds the place strangely devoid of human life except for Cameron’s creepy valet. She also discovers that the governess position was a hoax and that what Cameron really needed was someone who could read several ancient languages. This is fine with Rose seeing as she never really wanted to deal with a bunch of screaming kids anyway and she’ll be able to use her college education. Plus there are also the added bonuses of a big check, a new wardrobe, and plush living quarters. All for just reading to a disabled guy via speaking tube every night.

There was too many things going on at once between Rose and Jason’s developing relationship, the mission to find a way to reverse Jason’s wolf-iness, the valet creeping around, the other fire master trying to take Jason down, and the list goes on. It was still a really great story, but it felt too rushed for my tastes. The main villain was supposed to be the other fire master in the area and yet we hardly ever saw him. So I didn’t really get a chance to build up a nice big chuck of hate for the character. I disliked the valet a hell of a lot more than the main villain and the valet was just a pawn. So that kind of took away from the big showdown between Jason and the other fire master. -That showdown was still pretty awesome though.-

Despite the off stage main villain, all the other characters were awesome. Rose was smart and didn’t freak out over every little thing that Jason pulled with her. And Jason was awesome, even though he did have a bit of a stalker thing going with his being able to use mirrors to see what other people were doing. He watched Rose constantly, but that mostly because he didn’t trust her too much and then because he was vicariously living through her. This was fine by me, seeing as he didn’t build a shrine to her or start sniffing her underwear. Jason also had a great back story and was just a great character.

I was kind of disappointed when Jason didn’t find a way to reverse what happened to him. I think it’s because so much of the plot was about him trying to find some way to change him self back that I felt cheated when he didn’t find a cure. Also the way the plot was set up I think I would’ve looked at it more as him being redeemed from his past arrogance, etc. ( )
  Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mercedes Lackeyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burn, AdamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Golden as sunlight, white-hot, the Salamander danced and twisted sinuously above a plate sculpted of Mexican obsidian, ebony glass born in the heart of a volcano and shaped into a form created exactly to receive the magic of a creature who bathed in the fires of the volcano with delight.
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Then, after an interlude of terror too long to be time, it was over.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Beauty Meets Beast in San Francisco Accepting employment as a governess after hard times hit her family, medieval scholar Rosalind Hawkins is surprised when she learns that her mysterious employer has no children, no wife, and she is not to meet with him face to face. Instead, her duties are to read to him, through a speaking tube, from ancient manuscripts in obscure, nearly forgotten dialects. A requirement for the job was skill in translating medieval French, and she now understands the reason for that requirement, and assumes her unseen employer's interest in the descriptions of medieval spells and sorcery is that of an eccentric antiquary. What she does not realize is that his interest is anything but academic. He has a terrible secret and is desperately searching for something that can reverse the effects of the misfired spell which created his predicament.

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Based on fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, set in 1905 - 1906 San Francisco.
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