In this dark and atmospheric rendition of the Cinderella fairy tale, an intelligent young Englishwoman is made into a virtual slave by her evil stepmother. Her only hope of rescue comes in the shape of a scarred World War I pilot of noble blood, whose own powers over the elements are about to be needed more than ever.
"A dark tale full of the pain and devastation of war...and a couple of wounded protagonists worth routing for." —Locus
The traditional tale of Cinderella takes on several new twists in Phoenix and Ashes, the fourth in Mercedes Lackey’s “Elemental Masters” fantasy series.
After Eleanor Robinson’s tradesman father dies in the trenches of World War I, her social-climbing stepmother Allison, an Earth Master on the Dark Path, literally binds Eleanor to a life of servitude within her own home by burying Eleanor’s severed finger beneath the kitchen hearthstone. Meanwhile, handsome young Reginald Fenyx, Lord Devlin, Air Master and heir to Longacre, the local estate, has returned from war badly injured after crashing his plane. His nerves shattered after two days spent buried alive at the mercy of the nastiest elementals of Earth (the “antagonist” element to Air), Reggie is severely shell-shocked — and has lost his magical powers.
Lackey pulls no punches in this one, painting a vivid and believable portrait of life in war-weary Britain, of soldiers mangled in body and mind, of a social order quickly passing away. Allison Robinson makes a peculiarly chilling villain as she schemes to marry one of her daughters to Reggie while acting to prolong the war purely for the sake of the power she draws from death and despair.
Several characters from The Serpent’s Shadow make brief appearances, including Dr. Maya Witherspoon and Lord Alderstone. But the focus is on Eleanor and Reggie, as they struggle individually and eventually together to cope with and overcome the terrible things each has experienced.
About Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey is perhaps best known for her bestselling Valdemar, Elemental Masters, and Tales of the 500 Kingdoms series. Her books now total well over 100, not counting anthologies. She writes (or has written) several other popular series as well as stand-alone novels, both on her own and with collaborators including Larry Dixon (her husband and illustrator), Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Rosemary Edghill, Marion Zimmer Bradley, James Mallory, Roberta Gellis, and others.
Lackey graduated from Purdue University in 1972 and worked as a computer programmer before quitting to write full-time. A strong storyteller and a prolific writer, she turns out four to six books per year. She has also written lyrics and recorded songs (many of them based on her stories) for Firebird Arts and Music. Music is a prevailing theme throughout her work, and a major element in the Bardic Voices and Bedlam’s Bard series.
Mercedes Lackey lives with her husband in Oklahoma. She keeps parrots and has been active in raptor rehabilitation. She has also been active in the Society for Creative Anachronism and the MRPG community.
(sources: Goodreads, author website, and Wikipedia.)