Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey

Completion Date: July 2007
Pages: 448
Publication Year: 1996
Owned Prior to 2007
Book One in the Elemental Masters Series

Reason for Reading: Selection for my online reading group, which I very rarely actually read with, so I am proud of myself for reading this book.

Rosalind Hawkins is a medieval scholar from a fine family in Chicago, unfortunately, her professor father has speculated away the family money and died, leaving young Rosalind with no fortune and no future. Desolate with grief, forced to cut her education short, she agrees to go West to take a job as a
governess to a wealthy man in San Francisco.

Jason Cameron her new employer is a man with a problem: An Adept and Alchemist, Master of the Element of Fire, he had attempted the old French werewolf transformation, and got stuck in mid transformation. Trapped halfway between wolf and man, over the centuries he has been slowly losing his humanity,
and with it his ability to discover a cure for his condition.
I am going to classify this book as historical fantasy, so for those that are wondering why Mercedes Lackey is on a historical fiction blog, that is why. For those of you that are not regular readers of my other two blogs, I will inform you that I really like fairy tale retellings, so if I know that a book is of that nature I am more apt to read it. The Fire Rose is a retellig of Beauty and the Beast. Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favourite fairy tales and Disney movies, but this is actually the first time I read a retelling of it in novel form.

One of the things that I love about Mercedes Lackey is that she is all about girl power. She does not write weak and helpless women, when she writes a book she has the women in positions of power. Set in 1905, let's remember folks that this is historical fantasy. Mercedes Lackey is a fantasy author for the most part, so do not go into this book expecting perfect historical detail. She has some of it right, but she tweaks history to fit her novel, and considering it is fantasy I do not know why people get so mad that it is not historical correct.

Anyways, the pros of the book were that Rose had a brain. She came from a well-to-do family, but her father died leaving a lot of debts behind. She was expecting to have to give up her chance for advancement and work a conventional job, but James Cameron saved her from that. She's not perfect, she has thoughts of suicide, but she gets the job done and handles the situations handed to her during the course of the novel quite well, she does not just lay down and die. That being said, Rose could annoy me, she was a little too practical at times. Obviously this is a fantasy novel with magical things happening, and at times Rose was too scientific to really believe in the life that James Cameron was leading.

James Cameron was an interesting character. He was flawed, he had thought that he was a great elemental master, but now he is stuck in the shape of a wolf, so he learned his lesson. He has such loathing for himself, though, that it makes his interaction with others rather forced. Overall, though, for a man that was turned into a wolf, Cameron was an interesting character.

My biggest problem with this book was the ending. The book had the 'bad' guy (Cameron's archnemisis), there was a lot of potential for a big battle to insue, but I found that the ending happened and was over too quickly. There were a few issues that were not resolved, but the book sort of had an open-ending. Some other reviews I read think that the scene of violence in the middle of the book should have been worked out, but I found that the point of that was to show the battle between Jason's human side and his wolf side. While he was not punished, I think it served its point. Anything else I didn't like about this book was minor.

So, my parting thoughts. If you are one of those people that cannot read a fiction book and not expect non-fiction, do not read it. The historical aspect is there, but like I said above, it is not perfect. It is an entertaining read, it makes me want to read the rest of the series, and I think that it is the sort of fantasy that would appeal to those that are weary of the genre because it has romance and other elements to it. I think that Mercedes Lackey is one of the better female fantasy authors out right now, and the historical aspect of 1905 San Fransisco.


  1. I really liked this one, both for the story and for the alternate history version of the events of 1906.

    Will you try the rest of the books in the series, Kailana? They're very good. The next retells Snow White, then Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, but all with a twists that keep them from being rescue fantasies about helpless heroines waiting for their princes.

  2. Yup, I have the rest on the TBR pile. There is a new one coming out this fall, but I haven't looked to see what it is about since I am not ready for it yet!

  3. This one's been on my wishlist ever since I read Literary Feline's review a while back. Your review is also great - I really need to pick it up.

  4. It was a fun read! I can't wait to read the next book in the series sometime in the next century!