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The new novel in Mercedes Lackey’s bestselling series of an alternative Edwardian Britain, where magic is real—and Elemental Masters are in control. Lionel Hawkins is a magician whose act is only partially sleight of hand. The rest is real magic. He’s an Elemental Magician with the power to persuade the Elementals of Air to help him create amazing illusions. It doesn't take The new novel in Mercedes Lackey’s bestselling series of an alternative Edwardian Britain, where magic is real—and Elemental Masters are in control. Lionel Hawkins is a magician whose act is only partially sleight of hand. The rest is real magic. He’s an Elemental Magician with the power to persuade the Elementals of Air to help him create amazing illusions. It doesn't take long before his assistant, acrobat Katie Langford, notices that he’s no ordinary magician—and for Lionel to discover that she’s no ordinary acrobat, but rather an untrained and unawakened Fire Magician. She’s also on the run from her murderous and vengeful brute of a husband. But can she harness her magic in time to stop her husband from achieving his deadly goal?


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The new novel in Mercedes Lackey’s bestselling series of an alternative Edwardian Britain, where magic is real—and Elemental Masters are in control. Lionel Hawkins is a magician whose act is only partially sleight of hand. The rest is real magic. He’s an Elemental Magician with the power to persuade the Elementals of Air to help him create amazing illusions. It doesn't take The new novel in Mercedes Lackey’s bestselling series of an alternative Edwardian Britain, where magic is real—and Elemental Masters are in control. Lionel Hawkins is a magician whose act is only partially sleight of hand. The rest is real magic. He’s an Elemental Magician with the power to persuade the Elementals of Air to help him create amazing illusions. It doesn't take long before his assistant, acrobat Katie Langford, notices that he’s no ordinary magician—and for Lionel to discover that she’s no ordinary acrobat, but rather an untrained and unawakened Fire Magician. She’s also on the run from her murderous and vengeful brute of a husband. But can she harness her magic in time to stop her husband from achieving his deadly goal?

30 review for Steadfast

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Taggart

    I don't use star ratings, so please read my review! (Description nicked from B&N.com.) “Lionel Hawkins is a magician whose act is only partially sleight of hand. The rest is real magic. He’s an Elemental Magician with the power to persuade the Elementals of Air to help him create amazing illusions. It doesn’t take long before his assistant, acrobat Katie Langford, notices that he’s no ordinary magician—and for Lionel to discover that she’s no ordinary acrobat, but rather an untrained and unawakene I don't use star ratings, so please read my review! (Description nicked from B&N.com.) “Lionel Hawkins is a magician whose act is only partially sleight of hand. The rest is real magic. He’s an Elemental Magician with the power to persuade the Elementals of Air to help him create amazing illusions. It doesn’t take long before his assistant, acrobat Katie Langford, notices that he’s no ordinary magician—and for Lionel to discover that she’s no ordinary acrobat, but rather an untrained and unawakened Fire Magician. She’s also on the run from her murderous and vengeful brute of a husband. But can she harness her magic in time to stop her husband from achieving his deadly goal?” While I haven’t been all that impressed with the Elemental Masters series of late, this book represents a bit of an improvement. I thought that this novel’s pacing was better, and it kept the action moving along without stagnating into endless conversations and explanations (at least until the end, which I’ll touch on later). The plot was also more coherent, with a clear conflict and a goal for the characters to strive for. I liked the characters in this story, but oddly enough, I found that I liked the secondary characters more than the main ones. They seemed a bit better-rounded—since they were “normal” people with no magic, they didn’t end up being defined by their power level or by the element that they would identify with. One of them, a singer in the theater, is probably the most interesting character in the story, since she’s divorced three times and making a living singing bawdy songs. The issue with the main characters is that with the magicians, we’ve mostly seen stories like theirs before; admittedly, these are retellings of fairy tales, which are couched in generalities, but there’s enough room in them for improvisation that cookie cutter characters shouldn’t be a problem. Speaking of similarities, it’s hard not to notice that a lot of this novel’s elements are nearly the same as Lackey’s earlier novel Reserved for the Cat. While there is no cat, the theme of dancing and of mimicking a Russian theme is virtually identical, from what I remember. There doesn’t seem to be any relation between the novels, so I don’t know why the two are so alike. One thing that does differ from previous novels is the nature of the elemental spirits. In all of the other books, the elementals talk to those who can manipulate magic. In Steadfast, they are mute and can’t communicate with the magicians beyond gestures and guesswork. Lackey may have been trying to make a distinction between magicians and Masters, who wield more power, but that was never spelled out explicitly and so I can’t say that for sure. Suffice to say, it sticks out as very different from what’s been established before. The author also introduces extremely powerful guardian spirits, one of whom talks to Katie in a dream, and this is also something completely new and somewhat out of left field. What I’ve been most frustrated about in this series is the author’s tendency to abrupt endings. In this case, she sets up some elaborate plans involving Katie and the other mages, plus possible intervention from the London mages, only to toss the entire plan out the window and solve the problem with an accident. It’s like Chekhov’s Gun misfired at the last minute. I felt like I’d been left hanging and wondering “Wait, what happened to all that prep in the last fifty pages?” What this series boils down to for me is the literary equivalent of comfort food. I can read these books, turn off my critical side, and not be challenged. They’re fast, light reads I enjoy, regardless of any flaws that I may notice. Steadfast certainly isn’t Lackey’s best novel, but it’s entertaining in its own way, and if you’re a fan of the Elemental Masters series, this book is a decent addition to your collection. This review originally appeared on Owlcat Mountain on June 6, 2013.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Starfury10

    I have been more and more disappointed in Mercedes Lackey's books over the last several years. Continuity errors from book to book and within books. Formulaic writing and the same character types used over and over. Cameos and crossovers that don't entirely make sense. An annoying tendency to stretch a thin plot out unnecessarily and pacing issues. I get them from the library now because I don't want to spend on them. Steadfast has a lot of problems, including some of the ones listed above. (view I have been more and more disappointed in Mercedes Lackey's books over the last several years. Continuity errors from book to book and within books. Formulaic writing and the same character types used over and over. Cameos and crossovers that don't entirely make sense. An annoying tendency to stretch a thin plot out unnecessarily and pacing issues. I get them from the library now because I don't want to spend on them. Steadfast has a lot of problems, including some of the ones listed above. (view spoiler)[It's practically a retread of Reserved for the Cat, from the music hall setting to Katie using the same ribbon dance/skirt dance techniques outlined in the other book as Ninette put together her routines. (hide spoiler)] In the very first scene we have the continuity error of Katie listening to the silence all around her as she tries to sleep in the haven of a gypsy encampment and on the very next page she's listening to the snores of the men sleeping outside. The pacing, while a little better than in other recent books of this series, is still jumpy with an unclear timeline and most of the action is crammed into the last 50 pages. And yet, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I found the character motivations interesting (if a bit uneven and muddled at times) and particularly enjoyed Jack's backstory, some of the bits about Lionel and particularly Peggy. The villain, however, was one of the worst yet as far as cardboard caricature and wasn't even fully developed (view spoiler)[as we never got a full disclosure on whether he was applying a mind magic of the kind Isabelle Harton would combat or even a definitive answer as to whether Dick killed Katie's parents alone or colluded with the circus owner. (hide spoiler)] The system of magic also seemed rather broken when compared to what has been established so far in this series. And I agree with some of the other reviewers that a longer denouement would have been more enjoyable; while the story ended in a logical place, it was a very unsatisfying one.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    You don't expect much from an Elemental Masters book. Pretty girl, stalwart man, a little magical hijinks, maybe a bit of moralistic philosophizing, and a big climactic battle. This had all those elements and yet... it felt dialed in. This series is somewhat fluffier that popcorn but it felt lightweight even by those standards. The bad guy was an abusive husband of Iago-esque proportions. He was evil and cunning and brutal without any depth at all. Not that he should be sympathetic, mind you -- You don't expect much from an Elemental Masters book. Pretty girl, stalwart man, a little magical hijinks, maybe a bit of moralistic philosophizing, and a big climactic battle. This had all those elements and yet... it felt dialed in. This series is somewhat fluffier that popcorn but it felt lightweight even by those standards. The bad guy was an abusive husband of Iago-esque proportions. He was evil and cunning and brutal without any depth at all. Not that he should be sympathetic, mind you -- wife beaters are pretty awful -- but he was borderline cartoon character, right down to the Popeye outfit. What's more, the "plot" is flimsy as hell. The author drops hints that the husband and circus manager murdered our heroine's parents, but that storyline never gets any follow-up. How does the evil husband track her down? That's never mentioned. The heroine finds her way through the initial difficulties without a blink. Jobs, dreses, houses, they all just fall into her lap. The text itself remarks upon how "it's like a miracle." Lots of times. I'm guessing even the author knew it was kinda flimsy. The big climactic finish is so ... limp? contrived? ridiculous? Insane? that's not worth getting into. And I have a deep and abiding problem with the way she has chosen to portray self defense in her magical system. It may be internally consistent -- though I'm not certain it is -- but it's awful. And she spends an awful lot of time talking about it. The best things about this was the glimpses into Victorian life. The injustice of the laws that let a man beat his wife nigh unto death and there was nothing anyone could do about it. The music hall society. The society of Brighton. Even if you're a fan of the Elemental Masters series, I recommend skipping this one.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Another sterling example of why Mercedes Lackey is one of my all-time favorite authors. She can take you to new worlds and new times and you feel as if you are there. I am character driven. If I can relate to the characters in anyway the story is that much better. Mercedes Lackey does great characters. Untrained and unawakened Fire Magician Kate is on the run from her abusive husband. In Edwardian Britain the law is on his side. She is his to do with as he wishes. Dogs and horses have more rights Another sterling example of why Mercedes Lackey is one of my all-time favorite authors. She can take you to new worlds and new times and you feel as if you are there. I am character driven. If I can relate to the characters in anyway the story is that much better. Mercedes Lackey does great characters. Untrained and unawakened Fire Magician Kate is on the run from her abusive husband. In Edwardian Britain the law is on his side. She is his to do with as he wishes. Dogs and horses have more rights than she does. She ends up in Brighton where she gets a job as a magicians assistant to Air Magician Lionel Hawkins. Lionel and Jack Prescott, the doorman at the theater who is a wounded vet and a Fire Magician, help Kate realize and train her gifts. She hopes that it will be enough to save her if/when her husband finds her. Fans of Amanda Quick will enjoy this series. They can be read stand alone.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy Bradley

    content warning: spousal abuse, financial abuse, adultery, Katie is a young girl who has lived with circuses most of her life. After the death of her parents, the boss pressures her to marry quickly. She weds the strongman, later to rue the matrimony when he turns out to be an abusive bastard. She runs away, first joining a group of Travelers and then on to Brighton, for she knows circus folk are unlikely to go where there are already so many other entertainments for the masses. Lionel is a stage m content warning: spousal abuse, financial abuse, adultery, Katie is a young girl who has lived with circuses most of her life. After the death of her parents, the boss pressures her to marry quickly. She weds the strongman, later to rue the matrimony when he turns out to be an abusive bastard. She runs away, first joining a group of Travelers and then on to Brighton, for she knows circus folk are unlikely to go where there are already so many other entertainments for the masses. Lionel is a stage magician - and an elemental mage. He despairs of finding another assistant when Katie turns up, perfect for the role. He and the doorman Jack both recognize that she is an unawakened magician and work with her once she starts to see fire salamanders and come into her power. Katie hits on a plan to divorce her abusive husband and soon afterwards, is catapulted into the limelight to fill in for a Russian ballerina who has cancelled. But then her husband shows up and is abusive as before, hurting her and causing bruises, but ensuring she can still perform. He goes as far as bringing prostitutes back to her cottage, ordering Katie to be silent in the loft above. He threatens to harm her, to kill her boss if she tries to run away again. Aside from the parts with the abusive husband, I very much enjoyed reading this.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Why do I keep reading these? I'm starting to think that Lackey's Elemental Masters series is kind of like Twinkies: a taste from your childhood that you get bouts of nostalgia for, that are kind of addictively enjoyable for the first third, but by the time you're finished, you realize they really aren't as good as you remembered and you feel dissatisfied and vaguely annoyed with yourself for doing this whole thing again. Things that were worthwhile: there's something about the way Lackey sets up Why do I keep reading these? I'm starting to think that Lackey's Elemental Masters series is kind of like Twinkies: a taste from your childhood that you get bouts of nostalgia for, that are kind of addictively enjoyable for the first third, but by the time you're finished, you realize they really aren't as good as you remembered and you feel dissatisfied and vaguely annoyed with yourself for doing this whole thing again. Things that were worthwhile: there's something about the way Lackey sets up characters that I find deeply appealing. There's a certain hominess, a comfortable enumeration of the details of setting up a life. Katie is a likeable character, if a bit Mary-Sueish, and the details of how she finds herself angstily on the run and then builds herself a new family are fun. But the characters are so ludicrously black and white that it actually gets kind of irritating. Everyone save the antagonist(s?--more on that later) has hearts of gold. Katie's husband, on the other hand, is an uncomplicatedly evil brute who doesn't stomp on puppies only because no puppies appear. Good and evil is fun and all, but an antagonist with no motivation beyond “be really really mean” isn't very interesting. And the ending—oh, the ending. I'm not going to spoil the exact details. But there is a clear problem to be solved—something must be done about Katie's terrible husband. They propose half a dozen possible solutions, each of which would have made a more interesting book. What actually happens, though, is essentially an accident. None of the characters actually take an action that results in a resolution. It keeps them all from being bad people—the most obvious solution is to unleash some of the magic that Katie, her boss, and her love interest all have in spades. But it also completely robs all of them of any shred of agency. No one has to make hard choices, or do anything clever, and any bravery is merely reaction rather than action. It's anticlimatic and a complete betrayal of the characters. Worse, there are the seeds of a more interesting plot that are laid and then abandoned. I increasingly get the impression that Lackey writes these in one go and no one bothers to edit them at all. Katie's parents die in a mysterious fire before the novel starts. Katie's original boss forces her into her awful marriage for reasons undisclosed. It's briefly hinted that untrained magicians can be drained of their power. Everything is set up for a terrible revelation that Katie's boss killed her parents and trapped her in a marriage so that he could drain her at his leisure. Only one problem—we never meet the damn boss. After she escapes the circus before the book starts, she never encounters them again. We don't even have a good reason for her husband finding her beyond “the plot demands it”. There's a perfectly good, interesting conflict set up that Lackey just forgets all about. Feh. The worst part is, when the next one shows up on the library shelf, I'll probably end up reading it anyway.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Text Addict

    Ms. Lackey's agent and editor need to have a good long talk with her again. While better-plotted than Home from the Sea (also reviewed by me here on Goodreads), this book has an even worse case of explainitis than that one - possibly the worst case of any of her books so far. But what, you say, is "explainitis"? I'm so glad you asked. Explainitis is an author's disease, characterized by excessive devotion of word-count to subjects the author feels are important to communicate to the reader. It is Ms. Lackey's agent and editor need to have a good long talk with her again. While better-plotted than Home from the Sea (also reviewed by me here on Goodreads), this book has an even worse case of explainitis than that one - possibly the worst case of any of her books so far. But what, you say, is "explainitis"? I'm so glad you asked. Explainitis is an author's disease, characterized by excessive devotion of word-count to subjects the author feels are important to communicate to the reader. It is distinguished from the "infodump" by the fact that the excess wordage is not necessary for comprehension of the plot, setting, characters, or even the topic being explained. The example at hand is doubly annoying to me because I do believe that "THIS is why we are feminists" is important to communicate to the younger generations, and the early 20th-century period is close enough to our present, relatively speaking, that the message should have more impact. (This isn't the only aspect of the book affected by the condition, but it's the most prominent and repetitive.) But to include at least two-thirds more wordage than is needed, especially in the form of telling, rather than showing, is to fail. The very circumstances of Katie's life - shackled to a brutal husband for "protection," unable to get a divorce without deliberately lying to the court, and so forth - do more to explain the point than any amount of "and things this are this way because the law says so" blathering. Jack-the-love-interest's brief epiphany about "what the suffragists are on about" was far more effective than the at least three whole paragraphs of dry explanation on the same topic. Lackey has been somewhat prone to this disease for a long time now, but some episodes are worse than others. In a less well-established author, a case this bad could easily kill a career. And I haven't even gotten into the recycling of the setting and characters from Reserved for the Cat, which is a delightful book. For a while I thought it truly was the same theater and magician (it's been a while since I read the cat one). Nor have I mentioned that most of the book lacks tension and the romance is tepid at best. Indeed, if I didn't love the magic and the historical setting so much, this would be a two-star review. So: Talk to her, agent and editor!! Maybe she needs a break or a change of topic. Maybe a firmer tone in the next editorial letter? I don't know, but somebody has to do something! One of my favorite authors is in deadly danger, here!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jammies

    A good but not great addition to the series. I enjoyed the story and the background, but there were a couple of plot points introduced and then dropped and the ending felt very rushed and definitely deus ex machina.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Olga Godim

    This is a really weak novel. The best one word to describe it is almost. The writing is dismal: too much telling, explanations, and preaching; not nearly enough showing. It was an effort to finish this book. The story is a standard Lackey’s coming-of-age tale, lightly spruced with magic, but unfortunately, nothing of consequence happens in it. A young circus dancer Katie is on the run from her abusive husband. Her fear of him provides this story with its sole almost conflict. Katie arrives in Bri This is a really weak novel. The best one word to describe it is almost. The writing is dismal: too much telling, explanations, and preaching; not nearly enough showing. It was an effort to finish this book. The story is a standard Lackey’s coming-of-age tale, lightly spruced with magic, but unfortunately, nothing of consequence happens in it. A young circus dancer Katie is on the run from her abusive husband. Her fear of him provides this story with its sole almost conflict. Katie arrives in Brighton and finds work in a music hall as a magician’s assistant. For no discernible reason, everyone is super friendly around her, everyone bends backward to help. I wish my neighbors were half as nice. While Katie becomes almost happy and almost successful, she is still atremble at the mere thought of her husband’s name. And then he arrives on her doorstep and resumes his beating and humiliation routine. How did he find her is not explained. While she’s shaking in fear in her loft and tries to devise a way out, and her friends lament her bad luck, the bad guy gets drunk, accidentally sets himself on fire, and dies oh so conveniently. The problem solved! The novel finished. The characters are also disappointing – flat and static. They fit perfectly into the archetypal provisions of Carl Jung, with almost no elaborating details. There is the protagonist Katie, young, pretty and an orphan. In the course of the novel, she is almost maturing as a performer, a woman, and a mage. At least in theory, she should’ve done all three. She should’ve also fallen in love, but in practice, her almost romance seems kind of … watery; and her maturing is only hinted at, the writer’s wishful thinking rather than the truth. Katie didn’t do anything to speed up the abolishment of her villainous husband either. If he didn’t essentially kill himself (deus ex machina in action), Katie would still be cringing and whimpering under his punishing fists. Katie’s almost beau Jack is a prescribed tortured hero, a former soldier tormented by bad memories of war. Again, he could’ve been a deep, complicated personage, the background is all there, but he rises from the pages as a dull nonentity, boring and didactic instead of tragic. Katie’s boss, magician Lionel, should’ve been a classical wise man, helpful to the heroes, gifting them with magical artifacts to fight evil – in theory. In this book, he is an aging illusionist in a second-rate show act. He is kind and he tries to be helpful, but that’s all I can say about him. He is almost the mentor of the tale. And then, there is the theme: the heroes maintain that the forces of good mustn’t do bad things, mustn’t kill their enemies or get revenge. Otherwise they become the opposites of themselves. The good guys should endure and hope for the best. I hate such moralizing. In my opinion, the forces of good should have swords and guns. They should fight back when the evil attacks, or they become wussies, silent philistines, and the evil inevitably wins, which is what basically happens in this novel. The best thing about Steadfast is its cover art by Jody A. Lee, a longtime illustrator of Lackey’s books. It’s beautiful and provides enough conflict of its own that you want to pick up the book and open it. That the text doesn’t deliver on the image’s promise is not the artist’s fault.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kira

    So this is pretty much your average Mercedes Lackey novel. The setting is very close to that of Reserved for the Cat, both in location and time (the Russian ballet craze mentioned in this book probably means this takes place only slightly later.) In keeping with recent books in the Elemental Masters series, the main villain is an abusive, obsessive man (and the society that gives him power to do bad things). The heroine, Katie, must overcome her past and find a way to start a new life for hersel So this is pretty much your average Mercedes Lackey novel. The setting is very close to that of Reserved for the Cat, both in location and time (the Russian ballet craze mentioned in this book probably means this takes place only slightly later.) In keeping with recent books in the Elemental Masters series, the main villain is an abusive, obsessive man (and the society that gives him power to do bad things). The heroine, Katie, must overcome her past and find a way to start a new life for herself. In the process, she finds she elemental magic and love. And in keeping with other recent books by Lackey, it has a one-word title that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the contents of the book. (Redoubt, anyone?) I think a better title would be "Liberating Yourself From Your Abusive Husband in Late 19th/Early 20th Century England When He Is Legally Allowed To Beat You: Also, There's Magic." It might go a little too far in the other direction, but at least if I had never heard of this author before I would know what I was getting into. I think most of the horror in this book is not from the villain (who doesn't even show up until near the end of the book) but the anticipation of him, the knowledge that he can inflict all kinds of horrors on his wife with no legal repercussions. The story was enjoyable, but part of me missed the standard of the other Elemental Masters books in which the villain is usually some kind of dark magician. The magic seemed to be secondary here, since Katie could not allow her elementals to act against a non-mage. Anyway, it was a pretty good book overall, though it kept making me want to re-read Reserved For The Cat for comparison. Still not my favorite in the series (That place is still reserved for Phoenix and Ashes), but it does not have any of the glaring typos that I've come to dread from this author's recent books. (view spoiler)[Yes, here I am again with the romance spoilers. I thought Jack and Katie were really adorable, and I appreciated that they acknowledged they had to work around their situation and couldn't just run away. I also appreciated that when they expressed interest in each other, they concluded with "okay, so let's start by being really good friends". Even though I called the romantic pairing pretty much the first time they met (I've gotten pretty good at anticipating these) I still enjoyed it. The bit about Elemental Mages having fast romances and knowing they want to marry each other early on is a nice bit of explanation, considering how many times that has been true in the other books. All right, romance spoilers out. (hide spoiler)]

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kimikimi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Oh please tell me this is based on the steadfast tin solder!! I've been a little disappointed in the last few of this series but I will definitely get it if it is based on that story. Please please please. Okay, now that I've read it I have to say that this one was much better then the last one. It obviously had an editor since there were only a few retellings of things said before. That being said I'm really, really tired of this "women's sufferage" message she has had for all eight books. I'm Oh please tell me this is based on the steadfast tin solder!! I've been a little disappointed in the last few of this series but I will definitely get it if it is based on that story. Please please please. Okay, now that I've read it I have to say that this one was much better then the last one. It obviously had an editor since there were only a few retellings of things said before. That being said I'm really, really tired of this "women's sufferage" message she has had for all eight books. I'm a femenist and I think It's heavy handed and over done. On top of that every single book has the female protagonist in need of rescuing by the male, which isn't really selling your femenist shtick, you know? In this one, heavy spoilers here, the main character is unable to jump one story despite being a contortionist and dancer from a circus. It even tells us in the book that she studied trapeze, and yet she doesn't know how to safely fall a few feet? I get that the house is on fire, but she's able to move without fear as soon as a guy shows up to catch her. She doesn't even out wit the bad guy, she's almost compleatly passive once he shows up again. In fact as a femenist book I give this whole series a big old FAIL! But I did like the book until 2/3 of the way through. The characters were interesting, the story was interesting, the shows that they put on were interesting... and then nothing. She tries to hard to stick to fairytale endings without actually realizing that this one didn't need it tacked on. It's such a beautiful and sad story too (not that I wanted that ending to happen to this book). Any way I have a lot of negative feels for a book and a series that I like don't I. Colour me confused I guess.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Quick, light, non-memorable read. The main character, Katie, is a dancer and acrobat who ran away from her life with the circus after her parents died and she was married to an abusive husband. (The book starts after she runs away, so that isn't a spoiler.) After getting a job as a stage magician's assistant in a music hall act, she learns that magic can be real as well as illusion, and that she has magical powers. I enjoyed the descriptions of the music hall society and of the dancing, but though Quick, light, non-memorable read. The main character, Katie, is a dancer and acrobat who ran away from her life with the circus after her parents died and she was married to an abusive husband. (The book starts after she runs away, so that isn't a spoiler.) After getting a job as a stage magician's assistant in a music hall act, she learns that magic can be real as well as illusion, and that she has magical powers. I enjoyed the descriptions of the music hall society and of the dancing, but thought the plot was ho-hum. The climax was rushed, and there were some unresolved issues. (view spoiler)[ Did Dick, her husband, have some sort of magical power to mesmerize people? Is that why Katie couldn't really remember the wedding? Given the plot point that the Elementals might pick up on Katie's emotions and act on them, was the fire that Dick set by knocking over the gin into the gas really accidental? (hide spoiler)] This is listed as part of the Elemental Masters series, but it can be read as a stand-alone book. The series designation is due to a shared magical system. There is mention of characters from other books, but only at a distance.

  13. 4 out of 5

    BookAddict ✒ La Crimson Femme

    Catching back up with this series, this one is a nice diversion to a sea side resort. Covers the topics of domestic violence, men who don't condone it and women who will learn to fight back. This is a magical tale complete with a woman growing into her own. Good fun read. Catching back up with this series, this one is a nice diversion to a sea side resort. Covers the topics of domestic violence, men who don't condone it and women who will learn to fight back. This is a magical tale complete with a woman growing into her own. Good fun read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Davie

    Ninth in the Elemental Masters fantasy series and set in Brighton, England after King Edward VII's coronation in August 1902. My Take This was a switch! Up to this point, Lackey has been writing of elemental masters who are more upper class. This time around, it's a despised subclass of the lower classes: a magician, assistants, dancers, and a doorman! The underlying conflict in this story is the law of the land that insists a woman is the property of her husband and he can do whatever he likes t Ninth in the Elemental Masters fantasy series and set in Brighton, England after King Edward VII's coronation in August 1902. My Take This was a switch! Up to this point, Lackey has been writing of elemental masters who are more upper class. This time around, it's a despised subclass of the lower classes: a magician, assistants, dancers, and a doorman! The underlying conflict in this story is the law of the land that insists a woman is the property of her husband and he can do whatever he likes to her. The resolution is the choice Katie will need to make about how she uses her Elementals. And I couldn't help but love this story. It's a caring friendship between two men who, in turn, care for those around them, and they're determined to get to the bottom of Katie's troubles. Well, once they find out what those troubles are and who caused them. I just adored that Jack finally understood the Suffragette movement! For all the drama of this story, it's also too easy and comfortable, and still, I would definitely buy it precisely for its cozy read. I liked the realism of Katie's learning of her power. Total denial and a desperate scraping of any reason why she imagined it! Although, once she does begin to understand, it makes me a bit nuts that she keeps resisting that understanding inch by inch, step by step. Jack's experience in Africa during the Boer War and the British concentration camps was also realistic...and much less nice. It was annoying how easily Katie slipped into thinking she deserved how Dick treated her, but then again, in real life, women do become so subjugated that they believe it and don't believe they're worth anything. But did Lackey have to keep pounding away on this theme…? I was starting to feel abused. Another few issues I wonder about is how did Dick find her in the first place? If he thought she was such a loser, why did he come searching for her? Why would Ball allow him to leave in the circus? How did the stagehand know who she was and who Dick was? It is fun to see behind the scenes of an early twentieth-century dance hall: the work involved for the dancers and Lionel, Mayhew's worries, the crazy variations on that new Russian ballet fad---I want to see the comic version of the Dying Swan! Hmmm, I do wish Lackey would make up her mind on how to address Lord Peter. The Story There are pluses and minuses to not moving on, and Lionel feels the permanence is enough to make up for those negatives. If only it weren't so difficult to keep on a decent magician's assistant. It's lucky for Katie that Lionel and Jack are good men otherwise their sylphs and sprites would not have picked her out. She'll need their help when the fireworks bring her magic to the fore. Just as she'll need help to raise the sums necessary to buy her divorce. Fortunately, need and goodness can be a mighty force. The Characters Katie Langford is part-gypsy with an unknown talent for Fire who will become the famous Natalya Bayonova. Her acrobatic parents are dead, and the owner of Ball's Circus, Andy Ball, pushed her into marriage with the circus strongman, the brutal and vicious Dick Langford. Jack Prescott is the doorman with a gift for Fire who lost part of his leg in the Boer War. Lionel Small is a Air magician who has a permanent slot as a magician's act in Brighton at the Palace Music Hall. Suzie is the assistant who's getting married. Mrs. Buckthorn has a wee bit of magic and is Lionel's housekeeper. Paddy is Lionel's Connemara pony. Barnaby Shen is the theater manager; Charles Mayhew is the owner with a huge problem. Pretty Peggy Kelly is one of the permanent acts, a singer, and the woman Katie talks to about divorce. Davey is the piano player; Mrs. Littleton is the brilliant seamstress; Bessie Taylor is one of the dancers; and, Oscar Nathan is a new stagehand overly interested in Katie. Mary Small is the leader of this Traveling group and has insisted on taking Katie in. The clan consists of Joe, who plays guitar, and Celia, the lone Gitano of the girls and dancer; Bert, a fiddler, is married to Sally; Beth and Robert (Joe's father). The single men are Harry and Paul (Mary's sons) and Charlie, Fred, George and Jack who are Mary's grandsons. Alderscroft gets a mention. Mrs. Baird runs the boarding house at which Katie occasionally rooms. Lord Peter Almsley will be appealed to for aid. The Cover The cover is our focus couple: the crippled doorman and the flaming gypsy assistant against a darkened backdrop of the magician's posters. The title is all about Jack Prescott, for he is a Steadfast man.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Aspen Junge

    Mercedes Lackey has found a formula for her Elemental Masters series that works-- a naif discovers her/his magical powers and survives the personal Big Bad in his/her life, with a touch of feminism and social commentary added. In this example, she has avoided the massive (and repetitive) this-is-what-magic-is-and-how-it's-structured infodump that is a weakness in some other novels in the series. While the earliest books in the series (The Fire Mage, Phoenix and Ashes) were fairly transparent rete Mercedes Lackey has found a formula for her Elemental Masters series that works-- a naif discovers her/his magical powers and survives the personal Big Bad in his/her life, with a touch of feminism and social commentary added. In this example, she has avoided the massive (and repetitive) this-is-what-magic-is-and-how-it's-structured infodump that is a weakness in some other novels in the series. While the earliest books in the series (The Fire Mage, Phoenix and Ashes) were fairly transparent retellings of well-known fairy tales, this one is not. Katie Langford escapes Dick, her abusive husband, and finds a job working in the music halls of Brighton. In the process she discovers true magic, true love, her true calling, and one presumes true happiness (this is the formula), with happily-ever-afters all around except for Dick. It's a pleasant, not terribly challenging read. There are a few annoying dangling plot elements-- for example, every time she describes Dick as the kind of charismatic guy that everybody just wants to give stuff to, her listener goes, "Hmmm…" but the story ends without ever explaining how or whether this is significant. And when Dick turns up like a bad penny, why is everybody else so quick to throw up their hands and say, "Well, he's her husband, there's nothing we can do…" Katie survives not by being resilient, clever, assertive, or even by calling on her particular magical gifts, but by being a "good girl." and waiting for the Deus to get his butt over to his Machina and do something. I haven't decided yet whether that's an artifact of weak storytelling or a tight deadline.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was awful. First, the editing was terrible and lazy. Characters were misidentified (for example, the air wizard is playing with a salamander), the time line is wonky with the length of time events took place getting confused, and Katie was raised by parents who were outcasts but still has intimate knowledge of her mother's people whenever it's convenient to the plot. These are basic issues that a good read through could have fixed. Additionally, the book is not consistent with the othe This book was awful. First, the editing was terrible and lazy. Characters were misidentified (for example, the air wizard is playing with a salamander), the time line is wonky with the length of time events took place getting confused, and Katie was raised by parents who were outcasts but still has intimate knowledge of her mother's people whenever it's convenient to the plot. These are basic issues that a good read through could have fixed. Additionally, the book is not consistent with the other EIGHT BOOKS in this series. Magic works differently - the characters are identified as not being Masters, but Katie, the heroine is able to summon a phoenix. If the characters use their relationship with the Elementals to defend themselves, then the creatures will be horribly corrupted, despite characters in other books doing precisely that with no consequences. Worst of all, the story telling is lazy. The main conflict of the book is resolved when the villain accidentally sets himself on fire. The characters exhibit absolutely no agency. Katie gets her job due to magical luck after she follows the directions of a minor character. The men don't actually do anything except show up and help rescue her from the fire. There is no explanation as to how her brutish ex-husband found Katie in Brighton, no back story for why she married him, and the romance between her and Jack is tepid. I really like this series and I was so disappointed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    Considering this is the same author who re-wrote Swan Lake to give the classic tragedy a happy ending, it’s no surprise that Hans Christen Anderson’s heart breaking tale of the Steadfast Tin Soldier ends quite happily after Mercedes Lackey has gotten through with it. It was an entertaining read – a literal beach read in my case – and I read it straight through rather than skimming or skipping anything, but I can’t recommend it for being anything more than the literary equivalent of a summer popc Considering this is the same author who re-wrote Swan Lake to give the classic tragedy a happy ending, it’s no surprise that Hans Christen Anderson’s heart breaking tale of the Steadfast Tin Soldier ends quite happily after Mercedes Lackey has gotten through with it. It was an entertaining read – a literal beach read in my case – and I read it straight through rather than skimming or skipping anything, but I can’t recommend it for being anything more than the literary equivalent of a summer popcorn thriller – something you watch just once to while away a hot summer day without having to think. Oh, sure, Lackey throws in a theme that all humans should have civil liberties, freedom from fear, pursuit of life and happiness and all that important jazz, but when the enemy of those things is such a one dimensional villain, you just can’t take anything she says about equality seriously. The protagonists, for that matter, aren’t that deep themselves, but I’m willing to blame the fact that no one does anything on the fact the book takes place during a heat wave. And really, when it’s so hot, who wants to do anything so strenuous as plot?

  18. 5 out of 5

    June

    This was a bit graphic and heavy handed for my taste, in terms of abuse and the horrors of war. I did like Jack - the fact that he was a good man, haunted by his experience of war "He hadn't realized just what a horror this so-called "war" was when he'd joined the Army. Hadn't realized he'd be told to make war on women and children. Hadn't known he was going to war for the sake of a few greedy men, and diamonds, and gold... Hadn't realized that the leaders back home hadn't given a pin about the l This was a bit graphic and heavy handed for my taste, in terms of abuse and the horrors of war. I did like Jack - the fact that he was a good man, haunted by his experience of war "He hadn't realized just what a horror this so-called "war" was when he'd joined the Army. Hadn't realized he'd be told to make war on women and children. Hadn't known he was going to war for the sake of a few greedy men, and diamonds, and gold... Hadn't realized that the leaders back home hadn't given a pin about the lives of the common soldiers they squandered." p.16 I also thought that Jack's description of how the war and the horror of it changed men was apropos, how the cruelty and violence "eats your heart. It's like acid in your soul." How everyone has choices and maybe running is sometimes better than murder and corruption. p.170-1

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dorian

    A pleasant but unremarkable installment in the Elemental Masters series. Like Reserved for the Cat, it involves a dancer-type at a music hall in a seaside resort. I'm inclined to suspect the author did some research for the earlier book, and liked it enough to reuse it. I was a bit disappointed that the circumstances of the heroine's parents' death were not actually a plot point; they were presented in such a way that they could have been. And the ending was rather rushed and a bit deus ex machina A pleasant but unremarkable installment in the Elemental Masters series. Like Reserved for the Cat, it involves a dancer-type at a music hall in a seaside resort. I'm inclined to suspect the author did some research for the earlier book, and liked it enough to reuse it. I was a bit disappointed that the circumstances of the heroine's parents' death were not actually a plot point; they were presented in such a way that they could have been. And the ending was rather rushed and a bit deus ex machina. But overall it was a nice, light read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marina

    So I am skipping around in Misty's series' as usual. Sometimes I can't do that and sometimes I am like "whatever". I read this book before Elemental Magic: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters because I was feeling this story line more. After this book I'll probably read Elemental Magic anthology. I don't advice this style of reading unless you read a lot and can follow storylines every which way. =0p So I am skipping around in Misty's series' as usual. Sometimes I can't do that and sometimes I am like "whatever". I read this book before Elemental Magic: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters because I was feeling this story line more. After this book I'll probably read Elemental Magic anthology. I don't advice this style of reading unless you read a lot and can follow storylines every which way. =0p

  21. 4 out of 5

    Violettebird

    I read Lackey for happy sparkly not-too-intense fun, some shiny magic, some nods to feminism. A generally upbeat atmosphere and some occasionally thought provoking bits. I'm not looking for epic literary works. I'm also not looking for the tripe I found in Steadfast. I'm half-way convinced this book has been written by a ghost writer. It nonsensical and utterly inconsistent with everything else she's ever produced. It certainly doesn't fit in with with the rest of the Elemental series. Plot: The pr I read Lackey for happy sparkly not-too-intense fun, some shiny magic, some nods to feminism. A generally upbeat atmosphere and some occasionally thought provoking bits. I'm not looking for epic literary works. I'm also not looking for the tripe I found in Steadfast. I'm half-way convinced this book has been written by a ghost writer. It nonsensical and utterly inconsistent with everything else she's ever produced. It certainly doesn't fit in with with the rest of the Elemental series. Plot: The protagonist is a woman on the run from an abusive husband. She is a fire mage. But the entire book seems dedicated to making sure she never defends herself. Even though she is under threat, even though she knows she will be attacked and abused again, even though the law will not only not protect her but enable this abuse, even though she has done nothing to deserve this, all the emphasis is put on her sacrificing her own well being for the sake of elementals. There are so many ways this is wrong. (view spoiler)[ The biggest, of course, is that we once more have a woman being forced to suck it up and take the abuse to ~for the great good~. It's wrong to fight back! No matter how dangerous the situation she absolutely cannot fight back because a) she has an unfair advantage with her magic and b) the elementals might turn evil. Maybe. No one knows for sure but better not risk it, okay? First of all, unfair advantage due to magic. The old "with great power" yadda yadda. They use the example of a great big powerful dog and oh, you must control him and all that bullshit. Except our main character is a tiny woman - she's incredibly small and light. A big deal is made out of this, because it's an asset in her new job. Her magic isn't even powerful enough to let her command elementals, either. Just enough to attract them, and maybe get them to do her favours sometimes. And her abusive husband? He's an enormous circus strongman. In this case the only thing magic does is level the playing field. Secondly, what the hell is this about the elementals turning eeeeevil if they kill?! I have read every book in this series except for one, and the only creature forbidden from killing humans is Puck. Every other kind of elemental can, and has, killed humans, and some of them did it expressly at the command of the Good Guys when fighting the villain. Why the hell should it suddenly be an issue? And how on earth does it make sense when they are literally sentient forces of nature, and nature loves killing. See: every carnivore and omnivore ever, as well as massive environmental disasters, plagues, etc. It makes absolutely no sense either in Watsonian or Doylist pov. Continuing with this nonsense is the fact that a huge deal is made about her ~accidentally~ hurting people with her fire magic when she's under stress. The two male magicians even go so far as to pay the rent for a house for her sake, so that she can move out of her boarding house and into solitude and not risk getting people hurt. Because, of course, she is a fire mage, and her kind of magic is the most dangerous of all. But that's the only time they show any kind of logical concern! When her husband shows back up, beats her, rapes her, and takes over her new home, they leave her in there because ~it's the law~ that a woman belongs to her husband. But what about the risk of her magic going berserk? Shouldn't this be a major worry? Shouldn't they, two magicians in their own right, be doing everything they can to get her out of there? What about the member of the White Lodge (the magical police and social services, basically.) Why aren't they all over this incredibly dangerous situation the moment they're told? Instead they just fob it off with a letter. And yes, let's talk about letters! A stage magician with the power of air, illusions, and minor levitation, and an ex-soldier fire magician. What do you think their solution is to help the woman they both know is being horribly abused (and who one of them is supposed to be in love with)? THEY WRITE LETTERS. Yes, they write a "dear rich person we don't know. Please help!" letter. That's it. That's all they do. Because LAW. Let's make this perfectly clear: in another book someone is permanently turned into an animal, and they murder the culprit. The animal-person is a good guy. This behaviour is endorsed. And there are similar law skirting/breaking incidents in the rest of the series. So why, now, in this book is there this irrational clinging to a law that all the "good guys" know is wrong? And they were so goddamn dumb. You know what would have been an easy out? Have the air magician set an illusion on the divorce papers and have asshole husband sign them thinking they're something else. BOOM. Solved. Not even any violence or ~staining the purity~ of the fire fairies. I wanted a cute segue into this next part, but the book was a patchwork of nonsense, so the review can be patchwork of critique, I guess. The love interest - an ex soldier from the Boer war. He is the second half of what made me so mad at this book. He is a "good Nazi", someone who fought for honour and their country but oh, the war was wrong and now they feel bad forever about those concentration camps he never saw or had anything to do with except that he was a British soldier! Only he doesn't feel bad forever. Because in the climax, the part where the house is burning down above them, he has the battered and terrified love of his life in his arms, he thinks he's going to die in a pit of smoke and fire, what is he thinking about? The poor, dying Africans in the concentration camps. And then their ghosts rise out of the smoke and darkness and tell him "WE FORGIVE." Because, you know, of course they do. I feel so incredibly bad for those Africans (and they are all 'Africans'. We're never given a nation or anything.) First they get murdered in life, then they get harassed by some idiot solider and used as a plot device to wash him clean of all sin, so he can be a grizzled vet without the angst. I was just speechless at it. How incredibly inappropriate. How. . . how cheap. There are other things I can complain about. The weird coincidence of her parents dying in a house fire and her being a fire mage - something that in a better book would have tied into an interesting plot twist or character growth but was ditched in this one. Or maybe how our MC is utterly submissive toward her husband until the the page count of suffering has risen high enough that she can suddenly wake up one day defiant. Or how about how ex-soldier claims to be overjoyed to find a woman who'll take him minus a leg once, and only once in the entire book, but it's never brought up at any other time, even when he's considering flirting etc. And the ending. The ending is so stale, with a courtroom scene that should have been wrenching and a moment of triumph turned into a soggy mess by the cardboard cutout they had parading as a the evil Coroner/lawyer type. (hide spoiler)] Bottom line: this book is a mess, with stupid characters, a shitty conflict, poor characterization, nonsensical moralizing and an overall terrible message. Anyone wanting to read the Elemental Master series is much better off reading the Serpent's Shadow again, or Reserved for the Cat, or the Fire Rose.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Indigo

    DNF at page 330. And for those who need it THIS BOOK SHOULD COME WITH M*THERF*CKING TRIGGER WARNINGS!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll put it down here when it should be put in the book TW: Spousal abuse TW: Physical abuse TW: Emotional abuse TW: Mental abuse TW: Suicidal thoughts TW: RAPE (many times) TW: Painful and Unrealistic Caricature of an Abusive Husband for a Villain (To me this is allowed to be put as a trigger warning because we already know from reading the back of the book that she is runnin DNF at page 330. And for those who need it THIS BOOK SHOULD COME WITH M*THERF*CKING TRIGGER WARNINGS!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll put it down here when it should be put in the book TW: Spousal abuse TW: Physical abuse TW: Emotional abuse TW: Mental abuse TW: Suicidal thoughts TW: RAPE (many times) TW: Painful and Unrealistic Caricature of an Abusive Husband for a Villain (To me this is allowed to be put as a trigger warning because we already know from reading the back of the book that she is running from an abusive marriage.) There was that so hard? I did not like this book. I usually like her works so it was a shock that this book was so... bad compared to her other works. The first half was nice and light, but still conflicted with my suspension of disbelief at times. There didn't seem to be as much internal consistency here even in this part, and I found myself a bit disbelieving of the very heroine I was supposed to like and cheer for. Everything seemed so easily... set up. She didn't really HAVE to work for anything. Its only when she started working to put together her routine that I started engaging with her more, but even then the routine was just based on the suggestions of everyone else. I do wonder why she was so easily convinced into giving up her boarding room with the other girls for a solitary cabin there...? I mean its ALONE...and unsafe. (view spoiler)[Which is proven later. (hide spoiler)] It was a little too... predictable most of the first half. I kept raising my eyebrow at how everyone kept giving her stuff, giving and giving and giving, and she had to do naught anything but...BE there. I suppose I've been reading too many snarky book reviews tearing such things down, but it was kinda blatantly obvious and "SOOO convenient" that she perfectly fit into the spare clothing so she got a whole new wardrobe. .............. I kept telling myself "Well some people do lead a more blessed life, and seem to get a lot of luck" but contrasting that with what she TOLD (not shown) us of her life before was rather inconsistent. Then when the climax hit and the abusive husband came up again EVERYTHING went to pot. In a very dramatic and unexpected and not very well written way. No foreshadowing, no forewarning, nothing. Zero zip nada as to HOW the freakin' villain caught up to her. And that's where my suspension of disbelief broke so hard I was tempted to throw the book across the room. It's thanks to this section of the latter half of the book (from page 276 to onwards) that I did something I never do. I wrote in big bold black letters on the dedication part of the beginning of the book what I WISHED the author would write for all those who NEED trigger warnings for this. IT'S HORRENDOUS! The villain was completely unbelievable; a ball of horrendous stereotypes all mushed up into one! The accent was atrocious and the author actually WROTE it out rather than let normal spelled words in a different grammar syntax do the work for her, so I had to work to understand him. And not just that, but it was unrealistic because if she really HAD spent time with him, he would NOT be that hard to understand to HER ears. I almost wondered where the fawk his accent came from and why doesn't the heroine have one of her own?! Anyways the villain was horribly abusive to the 10th degree and it completely disturbed me in a very bad way. I HOPE no one with actual triggers with spousal abuse reads this part and not expecting of what is going to happen! I can see it too clearly, a total breakdown as everything comes back, and then RAGE at the clumsily done rendition of an, in truth, horrible event to live through. The thoughts about "God" being involved here was very annoying, and there HAS to be suicidal trigger warnings because the thoughts here were very disturbing for someone who has had to deal with suicidal thoughts and friends who also have suicidal thoughts and having to be talked down from that all of us and now I wish there was a warning before I came across that. I could at least distance myself for the most part from it but I was VERY VERY angry at how completely out of character this all was, how short it all happened, and how unnecessarily cruel it was to make the main drawn out conflict be centered on this. I went into this expecting a lot of beautiful details and focus on the magic system like she does in her other books. NOPE didn't get it. I got barely ANYTHING and a drawn out conflict that made me VERY incensed and wishing that Jack actually ACTED on his rage about the injustice of the law back then, and that the heroine would just grow a backbone and LET THE FUCKING ELEMENTALS BUUUUUUURN the villain! DAMMIT. (view spoiler)[I am rather furious at how the key for divorce is RIGHT THERE, the infidelity, and NO ONE NOTICES THAT?! GAH! (hide spoiler)] Its not the anger that would keep me reading and wanting to see the villain get his. Its the RAGE at all of this strangely poorly handled and botched up, WAY too exaggerated for believability (no one is 2-dimensional, EVER. ESPECIALLY not the abusers) and actually sends a horrible message in and of itself (that abusers are only caricatures and that leads people to thinking "NO no way could *I* be an abuser! I'm not an outright MONSTER!" without realizing that you can be a HORRENDOUS abuser AND not be a stereotyped MONSTER like this villain is! UGH!). AND that it came without warning entirely, after a huge chunk of the book lulling me to sleep (because of how easy it was for the heroine). I'm very disturbed, outraged, on edge, and had tried several times to pick it up again (to check how much the villain is in the book remaining) and then giving up at the ridiculously drawn out farce of a conflict/climax. Thanks to me having to deal with my friends who have abusive parents (often mothers I see...), to some friends dealing with hellish stalker nightmares of boyfriends, and to being so well read in the socially conscious works and messages that are being sent about all the rape-culture in this world today, I am VERY angry/outraged/disturbed/creeped/horrified/FURIOUS (take your pick) at how this was handled and how botched up it was. PLEASE can someone SNARK this book for me and pick it apart so that other people can see exactly what the messages and horrendous parts convey, and also put to better words exactly WHY I am so so very disturbed at this all. Disturbed in a very bad way. I'm gonna get rid of this book. It's not a good one at all and is far too disturbing for me to want to keep it. I'll also warn my friends and family away from this book, especially my mom. Not a good book at all if it makes me want to do that (AND I USUALLY HAVE HIGH TOLERANCE LEVELS TO BEGIN WITH!). I hope the author gets back to writing books more focused on the magic systems and not as reliant on a caricature of a villain in the same book as dealing with subject matters (abuse and rape) that REALLY SHOULD be dealt with in the UTMOST care and attention (especially these days!!!). Thank you.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelsi

    It has been quite a while since I read this series. Each book focuses on a different character in the world though so I was able to just jump right back in and start enjoying the world again. The original books in the series focused on Disney princess type characters like Cinderella and Snow White but I am not sure if this one followed that formula because if this story is based on a well-known fairy tale, I certainly can't place it. For the most part I enjoyed the book. It focused on Katie, a f It has been quite a while since I read this series. Each book focuses on a different character in the world though so I was able to just jump right back in and start enjoying the world again. The original books in the series focused on Disney princess type characters like Cinderella and Snow White but I am not sure if this one followed that formula because if this story is based on a well-known fairy tale, I certainly can't place it. For the most part I enjoyed the book. It focused on Katie, a fire magician who hasn't been aware of her powers until she decides to run away from her abusive husband and join Lionel, an air magician, as an assistant in his show. He helps her realize that she has powers and helps train her. Of course, her husband eventually catches up with her and a lot of the plot from this point forward becomes a bit predictable. As a result, it was not a great read, but it was light and enjoyable. I enjoy the series and now that I have returned to it I will probably read the rest of it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Judy Hall

    While overwhelmed by grief over the loss of her parents, Katie was convinced to marry the strong man of the circus where she worked. Her marriage was a nightmare and eventually she fled. Fate led her to magician Lionel Hawkins, who took her on as his assistant. Lionel discovered that Katie was an untrained Fired Mage (and she didn't even know it) and she clearly needed his help. This book reminded me what a class snob I can be. Katie is uneducated and ignorant of the world. Her responses are very While overwhelmed by grief over the loss of her parents, Katie was convinced to marry the strong man of the circus where she worked. Her marriage was a nightmare and eventually she fled. Fate led her to magician Lionel Hawkins, who took her on as his assistant. Lionel discovered that Katie was an untrained Fired Mage (and she didn't even know it) and she clearly needed his help. This book reminded me what a class snob I can be. Katie is uneducated and ignorant of the world. Her responses are very primal and based on what she wants without concerns for consequences, unless she thinks those consequences will affect her. It is clear that those emotional responses come for her lack of knowledge about all of the world, not just the magic world and that's the way it's written, but it makes it hard for me to relate to her. The problem is in me, not in Katie and I know that. It was a very good book. I was nervous going in, because The Steadfast Tin Soldier is probably m least favorite tale and I don't even know why. I think I had a picture book when I was a kid that I didn't like. But the story worked very well. It reminded me that I really need to read more Mercedes Lackey.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    Kate Langford has been having a run of truly awful luck. First she loses both of her parents when their caravan mysteriously catches on fire. Then, while in shock over her parents loss, she is manipulated into marrying one of her fellow circus performers - Dick, the strongman - who is a brute and a drunkard. Her luck takes a turn for the better, however, when she gathers the courage to escape and stumbles across a group of Travellers who take her in and support her while she recovers and plans h Kate Langford has been having a run of truly awful luck. First she loses both of her parents when their caravan mysteriously catches on fire. Then, while in shock over her parents loss, she is manipulated into marrying one of her fellow circus performers - Dick, the strongman - who is a brute and a drunkard. Her luck takes a turn for the better, however, when she gathers the courage to escape and stumbles across a group of Travellers who take her in and support her while she recovers and plans her next steps. But part of those plans must be a way to escape Dick permanently, which is no easy task for a woman in the early 20th century. IF she fails, and he finds her, she'll be forced to return to him - which could very well end in her death. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I quite enjoyed this book. It's a loose re-telling of the Steadfast Tin Soldier. There's not much in common with the original story, but I enjoyed what Lackey came up with here. Katie is likeable, and it's easy to sympathize with her difficulties in escaping Dick and finding a way to support herself. Lackey adds a lot of detail to the historical setting that we learn about through Katie's eyes - how the Travellers and Romani, the circus folk and other performers are treated by the populace. How women are treated in regards to the laws of the time. I think she did a good job at giving readers the information they need to realize just how serious Katie's situation is. There were a few points describing Katie and her 'blinding smile' and 'incredible beauty' that could be a bit off-putting, but I didn't mind. They're generally from Jack's point-of-view, after all, and he's inclined to be a bit biased. The same likeability goes for our other main characters, Jack and Lionel as they befriend Katie and do their best to help get her on her feet and teach her to control her long-suppressed gifts. They each have their own backgrounds and personalities that shape them, and they make for interesting characters. This especially applies to Jack, as we see not only the man he is now but what has brought him to this point in his life. A former soldier, Jack is burdened with the guilt of what happened during the war in Africa, what he saw happen to the women and children in the villages the British soldiers razed. He feels a great amount of guilt over his inability to take action at the time, despite knowing that any attempts to argue against orders or interfere would have had him facing a court-martial at best. Lackey doesn't pull many punches when it comes to the realities of war, and what all too often happens to the civilians caught in the middle. While I quite like this book, and will probably read it again, there were a few points that I found detracted from the story. In the early stages of the book, there are a couple of incidences that take place involving fire, one of which is the death of Katie's parents. These, as well, as Katie's description of the time period directly after her parents death, made me think that we would be seeing the arrival of another mage, out to bring harm to our protagonists. Maybe Lackey had started on this path, then decided she'd used it too many times, but it felt like there was this whole plot set-up starting that was just abandoned half-way through. And the villain we do see, (view spoiler)[ Katie's husband Dick (hide spoiler)] doesn't quite make the same impact. Granted, he's a villain all the same, and utterly un-likeable. But I always rather thought that he would be more of a sub-plot when he turned up again. A minion sent by the evil mage to allow him to take control over Katie, or something similar. You always knew Katie would have to face him again, and it's interesting to see the characters work to find a way to defeat him within the constraints of their society rather than some magical duel to the death, but while a very human monster, he's not quite the villain I thought we'd eventually be facing. The quick pace of this section doesn't help either. The book was going along at a steady, interesting pace, as the plot progresses and we watch the characters connect and grow together - and then I realized we were at most three chapters from the end. It feels like Lackey had a page limit she couldn't exceed and had to wrap things up quickly, or that she decided she was tired of the project and decided to just get it over and done with. I mean, I can understand needing to meet deadlines, if that's what the issue was, but I kind of don't as well - Lackey is a VERY prolific author, with multiple books coming out each year. She's working on a lot at once. And personally, I'm willing to wait several years for the next Tamora Pierce book to come out, so I could have easily waited a few more months or a year if that's what an Lackey needed to get this book finished without rushing at the end. It's not an awful ending, but it definitely feels rushed, and it's the last few chapters are not up to par with the rest of the book. It could have been quite well done if Lackey had taken a slower pace at the end, and taken readers through the effects the villain had on Katie. The kind of damage that is done isn't an over-night thing, especially after what Katie has been through and how her character has grown, and the book doesn't do a convincing portrayal of the kind of damage effected by that kind of abuse. A slower pace also would have given Lackey a better chance to portray the villain in a way that would make readers truly hate him, even as he is, and rather than the 1 dimensional stereotype he feels like here. Overall, I did like the book. I'll probably buy it and re-read it, like I have so many of her others. I had a few issues with the pacing, but I still think this was a good book. It's just sad, since it could so easily have been a great book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Oh how I love Lackey. Are her plots super original, even when she’s NOT adapting classic fairy tales? No, but who on earth cares when she writes such interesting and engaging characters? This one was no exception and I got sucked right into the world of stage performers in Brighton. This gets a full extra star for having the “villain” get a comeuppance that had me grinning like a full on psychopath. Let’s just say it’s REALLY satisfying to have someone awful get what they deserve. Also bonus poi Oh how I love Lackey. Are her plots super original, even when she’s NOT adapting classic fairy tales? No, but who on earth cares when she writes such interesting and engaging characters? This one was no exception and I got sucked right into the world of stage performers in Brighton. This gets a full extra star for having the “villain” get a comeuppance that had me grinning like a full on psychopath. Let’s just say it’s REALLY satisfying to have someone awful get what they deserve. Also bonus points for adorable love story here. Hooray for somewhat older but wise and kind and mature men!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Elemental Masters #8 in the series, based on fairytale: One Tin Soldier A young woman flees her circus life and her abusive husband to stay with Travelers, a gypsy-like group that her mother, in turn, abandoned to marry Katie's father. This gives her some time to recover and decide to find a job in Brighton where the music halls and theaters mean the circus would have no reason to visit. With phenomenal luck, she not only finds a job that she can use her dancing and acrobatic skills but manages t Elemental Masters #8 in the series, based on fairytale: One Tin Soldier A young woman flees her circus life and her abusive husband to stay with Travelers, a gypsy-like group that her mother, in turn, abandoned to marry Katie's father. This gives her some time to recover and decide to find a job in Brighton where the music halls and theaters mean the circus would have no reason to visit. With phenomenal luck, she not only finds a job that she can use her dancing and acrobatic skills but manages to evade all the horrible possible situations that, in reality, could befell an 'innocent' woman moving from place to place unchaperoned in Edwardian England. Jack Prescott, the theater's doorman, shares the preternatural abilities of an elemental magician only his talent lies with fire instead of air like Katie's new boss, Lionel Hawkins. Both men can tell that Katie is also a fire magician but her ability is blocked. Jack and Lionel make the decision that she must be trained even if only to prevent dangerous situations caused by any emotional upheaval on Katie's part because they can also tell she is hiding something about her past. It's a life that is nearly too good to be true. Katie is learning to control her abilities. Lionel has an assistant that accepts his elemental aids - like the sylphs and dancing cloth. Jack has found someone that accepts and loves his damaged self - he lost part of a leg in the Boer War. But Katie's husband is still casts a large shadow over everything. Most of the book focuses the above three people becoming friends and learning to work together as well as the theater with its multitude of crew and acts that move around like extras - some characters more filled out than others. It is only in three-quarters of the way through the book does Katie's husband appear. He is nearly a caricature of the brutal, bullying, strongman with the (currently) outdated beliefs on a wife's role and is nearly unintelligible with the strong accent that Lackey gave him. He demands Katie's pay, demands food and alcohol; brings women back to Katie's cottage while Katie hides in the loft. The character is written to make the reader not sympathize or feel any positive feelings for him. The so-called final battle/resolution comes in the last 18 pages with the 'happily ever after' ending literally the last page. Lackey does wonderful work creating a delightful storyline, filling out characters that the reader can empathize with, a world readers might want to visit and then "boom" all done. Everything resolved - not quite but those threads of plot can inferred to have been taken care of 'later'. It's like Lackey got bored with the story and rushed to complete it. That is the only real recurring problem I have been having with this series. Warnings: physical abuse 2019-002

  28. 5 out of 5

    OpenBookSociety.com

    http://openbooksociety.com/article/st... Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar I liked this story because it showed the struggles of a wife, a veteran soldier, a magician, and the perfect venue to meet. I liked that Katie and Jack take the experiences they went through to become stronger; they get their life back, keep moving forward getting better, and in the end find someone special. A curious aspect was the abusive husband’s name, Dick (it could have been a pun,) the name is a short form for Richa http://openbooksociety.com/article/st... Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar I liked this story because it showed the struggles of a wife, a veteran soldier, a magician, and the perfect venue to meet. I liked that Katie and Jack take the experiences they went through to become stronger; they get their life back, keep moving forward getting better, and in the end find someone special. A curious aspect was the abusive husband’s name, Dick (it could have been a pun,) the name is a short form for Richard and in that time people didn’t use that much sarcasm, but the author made a good choice of a name for the wife beating husband. If we look into some history, the Boer war in Africa, that the book talks about, was first fought from 1880 to 1881, and a second time from 1899 to 1902, so the events of the book can happen in the time lapse of 1880-1902. Also, it was quite interesting to know that if an unawakened fire mage goes into a rampage and because the fire mages are more emotional, their elementals react to them and the mage can die of what now we know as, “Spontaneous Human Combustion”. It is a rare case to come across. The honor, between the Elemental Mages, was another aspect that I liked. They help each other and without asking many questions, some do it so in the future they can ask for help or power when it is needed. But Lionel and Jack are honorable by principal and even if the quest looks dangerous they do everything they can, making their elementals want to help too. In this book, we see more of the fire elementals compared toBlood Red where the main character was an Earth Master, so the elementals we saw were of the element of earth. But in Steadfast, two of the three mages are fire and we see elementals like salamanders, firebirds, phoenix, and even a great fire elemental: a dragon. The dragon was beautifully described with a body that was made of precious rocks that needed fire to be created. At first the book might look long, but you must consider that it has three main characters and the narrative changes with each of them and sometimes we see a little recap from the point of view of another. The author is also telling us more about them and how is it that they came to be the way they are. Even though the book describes perfectly Katie’s performance as an assistant and on her own, this is something I wish I could see with my own eyes in real life. It would be great to see the fire spirits help her in her dance. The food is well described, too ;) I recommend you to read Steadfast; you can read of performances, of elementals that follow their own rules, and an artist that gets a second chance in life and finds happiness. *OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*

  29. 4 out of 5

    A

    This book is...OK. If you liked Mercedes Lackey's other elemental masters novels, this one's a pleasant but unbrilliant addition to the series. If you haven't read any of the elemental masters books but like fairy-tale retellings/historic urban fantasy, then I recommend trying one of the rather betters ones in the series such as Phoenix and Ashesor The Fire Rose. Steadfast suffers from two main problems: glacial pacing (there doesn't seem to be any plot at all until over halfway through the book) This book is...OK. If you liked Mercedes Lackey's other elemental masters novels, this one's a pleasant but unbrilliant addition to the series. If you haven't read any of the elemental masters books but like fairy-tale retellings/historic urban fantasy, then I recommend trying one of the rather betters ones in the series such as Phoenix and Ashesor The Fire Rose. Steadfast suffers from two main problems: glacial pacing (there doesn't seem to be any plot at all until over halfway through the book) and passivity. Things just happen one thing after another, rather than the characters making active choices that drive the novel. This is especially irritating at the book's climax, which resolves itself instead of the characters being forced to face and resolve the problem. Steadfast also bears more than a passing resemblance to a previous instalment in the series: Reserved for the Cat.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniella

    I've read through some of the reviews and while I agree that there are editing problems, unresolved plots and similar characters to other books, I just really enjoyed my time reading this book, like I do with most of the Mercedes Lackey books. Even if she's phoning it in, I feel her character development is superior to many writers. The best thing I like about her books is that you get to really feel and care about the characters. Yes, some of the girls are a similar type but if its the type of I've read through some of the reviews and while I agree that there are editing problems, unresolved plots and similar characters to other books, I just really enjoyed my time reading this book, like I do with most of the Mercedes Lackey books. Even if she's phoning it in, I feel her character development is superior to many writers. The best thing I like about her books is that you get to really feel and care about the characters. Yes, some of the girls are a similar type but if its the type of story you like to read about, then you can enjoy variations on the same great reading experience! I was sad to have this book end so quickly and found myself slowing down as I approached the end, just to be able to savor my time with the characters a little more, a true sign from me that its a book I'm enjoying. Overall, if you like the Elemental Masters series, if you like stories about magicians coming into their power with some romance and suspense added in, this is another hit!

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