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The Element of Fire by [Wells, Martha]
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Length: 322 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

The kingdom of Ile-Rein lies in peril, menaced by sorcerous threats and devious court intrigues. As the weak King Roland, flattered and misled by treacherous companions, rules the country, only his ruthless mother, the Dowager Queen Ravenna, guards the safety of the realm. But now rumors arise that Urbain Grandier, the dark master of scientific sorcery, has arrived to plot against the throne. And Kade, bastard sister of King Roland, appears unexpectedly at court. The illegitimate daughter of the old king and the Queen of Air and Darkness herself, Kade's true desires are cloaked in mystery. Is she in league with the wizard Grandier? Or is she laying claim to the throne?

It falls to Thomas Boniface, Captain of the Queen's Guard and Ravenna's former lover, to sort out who is friend, who is foe in a deadly game to keep the Dowager Queen and the kingdom she loves from harm. But is one man's steel enough to counter all the magic of fayre?

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1421 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Martha Wells (13 November 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002DPUJB0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #276,438 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 42 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Adventure of Rapiers, Magic and Fay 16 July 2013
By Skuldren - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Element of Fire is Martha Wells' first published novel. At this point, I've read several of her books, so it was interesting traveling back in time to the earliest point in her professional writing career. I can safely say that I was not disappointed. It seems Martha has always known how to write a good book, even from the very beginning. The Element of Fire reads like a three musketeers story with sword fights and rapier armed guardsmen, but there's the added fun of sorcerers and the fay. With rich characters and a delightfully fun story that carries the action to the very last line of the book, it's a tale worth reading.

There are two stars in the book. One is Thomas Boniface. Thomas is the Captain of the Queen's Guard. On the surface, he's the courageous, loyal guardsmen who would give his life to save the queen. He's skilled with a sword and pistol and considered a bit of a lady's man. But Thomas is also a romantic consort of the Dowager Queen. To further complicate matters, there are two queens in the book. There's the Dowager Queen Ravenna, who is the acting leader of Ile-Rien, and then there's Queen Falaise, the bride of the current King, Roland. Roland is in turn the son of Ravenna. There's no incest going on, it's just a matter of Roland not being quite up to par for ruling the kingdom so Ravenna is doing the real work of leadership. Thomas is one of her most trusted confidants.

The other star of the book is Kade Carrion, the Queen of Air and Darkness. Kade is half fay and half human. She's also King Roland's sister, though not by Ravenna. Unlike Roland, Kade holds no aspirations for the throne and is much more interested in magic. Being half fay, no one trusts her, and her motives are kept very mysterious. But as the story progresses, details are revealed and her character is significantly developed. Her and Thomas become central focal points for the story and the fate of Ile-Rien.

As the book starts out, Thomas leads a rescue mission to save a sorcerer named Dubell from an evil sorcerer named Grandier. However Grandier is only mentioned in the beginning and a lot of the early story darts around the politics of the royal court. The various characters are introduced and their roles are laid out. After the action scene that kicks off the story, there's a slow warm up before things get really good. Yet that build up pays off. By the time the fay arrive and the kingdom falls into chaos, you're already comfortable with the main characters and their roles. And there's a lot of action in the later half of the book. In fact there's action all the way up to the very end, quite literally.

As a reader, I like the more exotic elements in fantasy stories. It adds to the escapism and provides fuel for the imagination. In that respect, The Element of Fire delivers by unleashing a whole horde of bizarre fay creatures who run amuck in Ile-Rien. Plus there are two clashing schools of magic that play a part in the story. On the one hand, there is Dubell and his traditional sorcery. On the other is Kade and her fay magic which uses glamour. Furthermore, the story not only utilizes the fay, but explores several locations in the fay realm. I really enjoyed the scenes in the fay world with their wild environments and gravity defying structures.

Guns, swords, magic, fay, politics, romance, duels, battlefields, there's a little bit of everything in The Element of Fire, but never too much or too little. The story has deep characters, enjoyable action scenes and a fun plot. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy stories with good characters. It's use of the fay helps it stand out from many other fantasy stories. Yet there really is something to be said about the ending: it's perfect. Not drawn out, not cut short, but just absolutely fitting for the characters. I give The Element of Fire a five out of five.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique world, great story 5 February 2013
By BlueFairy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Premise: Set in the same world as The Wizard Hunters and its sequels, but takes place centuries prior. In the kingdom of Ile-Rien, the Captain of the Queen's Guard goes to rescue an academic sorcerer from a dangerous foreign wizard. It seems simple enough, but with power-hungry sycophants circling the young king, who himself seems disinclined to care about the kingdom, everything is part of someone's plot and everyone will be drawn into the battle for the future of the country.

I really enjoyed this book. Wells seems to have a knack for characters who I find likable because of their abrasive ways. In this book, it's Kade Carrion, half-fay bastard sister to the king. She's all sorts of awesome. She could be powerful, but chooses to mostly skate by on her luck and trickery. She's snarky and sad and simply delightful.

The Dowager Queen Ravenna is pretty spectacular as well. Just because her weak-willed son has reached his majority doesn't mean she'll easily give up the power she's wielded her entire life. She's often cynical and angry, but also extremely clever and hard, as she's needed to be to keep her land safe through violent war.

Captain Thomas Boniface is a bit more generic, but he's a good-hearted sort, although he's learned enough cynicism and deceit from Ravenna to have survived this long at her side.

The story is easy to follow and trips along at a good pace. I did see one twist coming, but just long enough to really feel the foreshadowing hit. The romantic subplot is well handled, and while it informs characters' motivations, it never overwhelms the story.

The descriptions of the various fay creatures are great, and the differences between fay magic and human sorcery (only alluded to loosely in the other books in this world) are explored in depth.

Overall, while neither groundbreaking or perfect, I found this to be a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant debut work about sorcery's use and abuse in royal circles. 29 December 2015
By Captain - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Brilliant debut work about sorcery's use and abuse in royal circles. Something seemed to occur on every page. I thought of it as concentrated storytelling. No skimming possible if you want to follow closely. I couldn't put it down after I started, and I began her most heralded work, The Death of the Necromancer, immediately after finishing this book, and I am in a hurry to get back to it. That's how well she writes and how gripping the stories are. Just a brilliant talent, and if you've thought about trying out Martha Wells, as I had for a long time, this is the book to start with. I liked it much more than her City of Bones, which is the first of her works that I tried. A bargain too as this and many of her well known works are low priced.
5.0 out of 5 stars I reread this book at least once a year. 23 June 2016
By Steven Gould - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Disclaimer, I first read this book in manuscript back when Ms. Wells first wrote this and, in fact, it was the first book I ever wrote a blurb for.

We no longer live in the same town so I don't get that privilege anymore, but I still buy all of her books as soon as they come out.

I strongly recommend all of her books but the five Ile Rien books: ELEMENT OF FIRE, DEATH OF A NECROMANCER, THE WIZARD HUNTERS, SHIPS OF THE AIR, and GATE OF GODS, hold a special place in my heart and I reread them regularly.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun and one of a kind book! 19 April 2005
By Anthony Marray - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I love the fantasy genre but I hate how most fantasy publishers think that fantasy readers like the same formula (a superhuman who fulfills a prophecy only after he becomes convinced of his destiny when he finds a magic sword from a mystical figure...I've seen it many times).

However, Martha Wells was a breath of fresh air for me. She actually injects her story with intrigue and it reads like a 17th century political chess game. The action flows throughout the story and she realistically throws characters in situations that don't always work out perfectly. Yes, there is talk about fairy and magic, but it doesn't detract from the main story. It's apart of the story and not just something to wow you while reading. This book is hard to find so I would recommend going to the library to read a copy. I recommend all of her other books which are even more accomplished than this gem (especially check out "Death of the Necromancer" and "Wheel of the Infinite").

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