Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey
Phoenix and Ashes Series: Elemental Masters #3
on Oct. 5, 2004
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Also in this series: The Serpent's Shadow, The Gates of Sleep, Home from the Sea, Steadfast, Elemental Magic:, Blood Red, From a High Tower, A Study in Sable
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.