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Fire Logic (Elemental Logic #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,144 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
Earth. Air. Water. Fire.

These elements have sustained the peaceful people of Shaftal for generations, with their subtle powers of healing, truth, joy, and intuition.

But now Shaftal is dying.

The earth witch who ruled Shaftal is dead, leaving no heir. Shaftal's ruling house has been scattered and destroyed by the invading Sainnites. The Shaftali have mobilized a guerrilla ar
Hardcover, 335 pages
Published May 17th 2002 by Tom Doherty Associates Tor Books (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I both really enjoyed and yet was disappointed by this book at the same time. I liked the setting and admired the bold society she set in place, but at the same time parts of their culture was grating.

I think the main reason I was disappointed was that over the years I've really raised my standards regarding fantasy novels. I tend to only read weird-fiction fantasy these days, and I was expecting this to be a bit weirder -- the third book in the series is printed by Small Beer, Kelly Link's pres
Tamora Pierce
Dec 04, 2013 Tamora Pierce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, adult
I'm re-reading after some years away, and loving the book even more than I did the first time! Marks creates a realistic society in which women are the dominant sex. The home country has been conquered by an army with no home to return to, and its leaders have been fighting a long, guerilla war against them. What they need is the leader who is joined by her magic with the earth, but the one who inherited the office from the former leader is a drug addict and former prostitute who doesn't believe ...more
Michelle Ruedin
Mar 26, 2016 Michelle Ruedin rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I wanted to like this so much. A female lead in an epic fantasy? Awesome! Elemental based magic in a war-torn country where the people struggle in a guerrilla war against the evil oppressors? Hell yes, I want some of that! What's that? An LGBT positive lead? YES! Go diversity! The actual book? Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull. I was more entertained when I washed up the dishes by myself earlier tonight. I was filled with dread at the notion of finishing the next 309 pages. This writer's style is j ...more
An excellent beginning to a really promising series. Several damaged women--the last survivor of a slaughtered tribe, a gifted blacksmith with a drug addiction, and their few friends--band together to fight against the invaders that have destroyed their lands. It's got wonderfully imaginative storytelling, complete with a really great new style of magic set in a believable yet fantastic world. However, what really drew me in were the characters.
Jan 27, 2015 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a terrific feminist fantasy series with primarily queer female characters. If that's up your alley, you will enjoy this. If it is not, you will not. I loved all three of these books and I am chomping at the bit for the last one to come out. Morally sophisticated fantasy with complex protagonists. I read a review of this book which said it depicts a world where women are the dominant gender; I don't think that's the case at all-- I think it depicts a world where people are not judged on t ...more
I was really exited about Fire Logic after reading the blurb but I just could not manage to get through it. It's one of those fantasy books that dumps you in the middle of a complex world and a group of characters and you are just supposed to pick it up as you go. Sometimes that can work and you don't necessarily want a giant info-dump at the beginning of a book. However for me sometimes its just too difficult to muddle through confused and trying to understand why you should care about what's g ...more
May 26, 2011 Chelsea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Gritty elemental fantasy with a focus on interesting, well-developed female characters who happen to be queer? Sign me up, yo.

I knew Zanja would steal my heart, because the crux of her character is that she is a diplomat! A learner of languages, crosser of borders, and traveler to strange lands! That she is a warrior also doesn't seem to negate this, which is neat considering that usually characters like her get slotted into pacifist roles, since they understand other people so well and all tha
Dan Clarke
Jul 13, 2012 Dan Clarke rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dan by: Victoria A
Fire Logic disappointed me, and not only because I found it difficult to connect to any of the characters on any meaningful level. The book had an interesting premise - a world at war, the rebels against the overbearing Empire (uh, sounds familiar, but it really was thought-out!), and even an interesting-if-overdone elemental division.

The writing was just not good enough to bring all of these elements together. It improved near the end of the book, but then fell off again for the denouement. Th
Jun 03, 2013 Lightreads rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy, lgbt
I read this weeks ago, and for complicated reasons promised myself I would figure out how to review it before reviewing anything else, so at this point there is a ridiculous pile of books jostling behind this one, and none of them are even half as good, and I still don't know what to say.

It's a fantasy about a land overrun by foreign warlords, and elemental magic systems, and guerilla warfare, and it's not any of the things you are imagining right now because it is so much more. It is politicall
Nov 12, 2014 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
The Logic series (there are 2 more and someday a 4th) are an unusual read. They’re more challenging than the usual fantasy fare, as the author is interested in war/conflict but considers the subject from a philosophical/anthropological viewpoint, focusing on cause and result with little interest in glory yet aiming still to be entertaining. The result is consistently surprising for a fantasy read, though challenge and surprise won’t please every genre reader. The author is also interested in sex ...more
OK, let's get to the good stuff first! Women in power: it just is: It is never questioned. People's relationships are also never questioned, whether they be straight or queer. Out of the two main female protagonists, Karis was my favorite, as she was a bit more complex. I liked that certain people can be of a certain elemental: earth, air, fire, and water. And if you are one of those elementals, it influences your behavior in a way. Many characters come and go, but in the end, a little family tr ...more
Shaftal is thrown into turmoil and war once the earth witch ruler, the G'deon, dies without naming an heir. The Sainnites, an violent, invading force that threatened the peaceful Shaftalis for fifteen years, finally attack after the passing of the Shaftali leader. The Shaftali forces are mostly defeated, and can't hope to defeat the Sainnites in open battle, and must rely on guerrilla warfare. Shaftal can only rely on Zanja, Emil, and Karis, three unlikely heroes that may lead to a new era of pe ...more
It's done, and boy, do I have thoughts.

Let's talk about what Fire Logic does that's pretty great, because there's a lot of it. Marks puts together a society where gender, sexuality, and personal identity are unimportant. Women and men rule equally, no sex is better than the other, no sexual preference is the default. Discrimination along these lines simply doesn't exist in Shaftal, and that alone is startlingly refreshing.

I also enjoyed the sense of community in the novel, and the creative take
Although this book didn't completely grab me, there were a lot of interesting things in it. It's set in a fantasy world that's been invaded. Magically, the world has a lot of different types of people with powers--some are related to the four elements and seem to come down to either having a certain personality/insight based on the element, or being an actual [element] witch who has powers. There are also truthkens, who seem to be able to just tell if people are telling the truth and therefore c ...more
Oct 03, 2010 Isk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One-sentence summary:
Half-fleshed out book with water/fire/air/earth elementals ("logics") running around.

What a half-fleshed out book. What does fire logic have to do with fire? What is special about fire elementals, besides that they have some form of prescience? Are all air elementals truthkens? (Again, what does that have to do with air?) Are people just randomly born elementals? There is a connection between being an earth witch and manipulating earth (for Karis, at least), but the random u
John Eich
Apr 10, 2011 John Eich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good solid fantasy novel - well developed cosmology, a steady march of plot that makes sense, and complex, believable characters. The elemental magic bit is a little muddled (earth/water witches very powerful, fire/air ones just "intuitive"??).

The strength lies in the political and personal sub-plots. The author creates a very robust society and inter-personal dynamics, and the ethical dilemnas within them are interesting to follow as they play out. The author reminds me a bit of Heinl
Mar 16, 2016 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book was very disappointing to me and I stayed up late last night just to finish it and be DONE. It was one of those novels that I liked enough to want to know what happens to the characters but not enough to want to spend any more time with it. There are some elements I like: the clash of cultures, the complicated characters, the introspection of various characters and the unusual social structures presented.

Things that drove me nuts:
The extensive telling of every sensation, expression,
Oct 15, 2009 Julian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes!! This was so good! I love when sf/fantasy truly breaks the mold and this book does it. I've never ever before read a fantasy novel in which the author posits a world with NO gender issues at all. None! Every character's job or main role in life is based on their personality and motivations, not their gender. It's not just a flip-flop either. There are army commanders of both genders, farmers of both genders, raising-kids-focused people of both genders, family structures of all kinds, queer ...more
Nov 29, 2013 kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to kat by: Yarrow
It took me a couple tries to start this one, but once I did, I was hooked. It's nothing like what I was expecting, which I suppose was something like Children of the Triad and something like your typical epic fantasy novel. It's darker and grittier than Children of the Triad (or at least, than I recall that series being).

My one gripe is that it was hard to get a sense of the characters' inner worlds. It took me until halfway through the book to figure out that Zanja herself largely acts (or reac
Jul 19, 2014 Danika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gayyyyyyy
Brilliant. Amazing. Read this right now.
People are gay, and its not even a thing. Thank. God. They just happen to be queer people caught up in a very interesting, well written story. Gender is also very well handled, in terms of the female/male ratio of side characters and main characters.
(spoiler alert) When Karis comes to get Zhanja from the box. I DIED. I want to quote what Zhanja says later in my wedding vows "You found me paralyzed and mutilated and lying in my own shit. Yet you never sham
Feb 04, 2015 thefourthvine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to thefourthvine by: Jenne
When I started reading this book, I realized I'd tried it once before and bounced off the beginning. Not a surprise; the first few chapters have LOTS of things I don't like in them (endless scene-setting, lots of violence and death, the story doesn't actually start for quite a while, forced introduction of too many characters). This time, because it was recommended to me by Jenne, who said if I liked The Steerswoman, I might like this, I persevered.

And, as it turned out, I liked it a lot. I lik
The Captain
Apr 05, 2016 The Captain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys! This was a very interesting complicated fantasy novel. At its heart is the relationship between Zanja and Karis – both elementals. Of fire and earth specifically. The other elementals are of course air and water. The magic of the world was actually fascinating. The people who have magical skills are rare. There does seem to be structure to the magic but the personal consequences to the wielder are harsh at best and do not always make life easy. After reading this novel I wa ...more
Feb 18, 2014 steven rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must have bounced off of this book earlier, because the first half seemed really familiar.

The setting is during a time of war, but really, the main characters try to stay well away from the fighting. This is a tale of how a few people, in the right place, at the right time, can shape the history of a nation. In this case, they also have the added talents of prescience and magic, but that's almost secondary.

Secondary to the overall story, but not to the plot. This is a well-thought-out system o
Jun 07, 2010 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy, lgbt
A little slow to start (too many characters/ cultures/ situations introduced in the first 50 pages), but became gripping and hard to put down! Really enjoyed the quality of the writing and the ideas presented through the characters. As a side note, the seamless integration of characters' varying sexual orientations was refreshing.
Mar 16, 2016 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, I do understand why this got a few dnfs. The start was slow and there's a whole heck of a lot of telling. And if you started this book because you were looking for fully fleshed out women who love women, the fact that it starts with a man is kinda "ugh, not here for that."

Then why'd I rate it so high? Because if you bear with it, it gets better and then actually good and then it becomes compelling and you care about the characters. Stick through it. It's really worth it.

There is no big comin
Apr 09, 2016 Ibrinar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 7
With books with glbt tag I tend to wonder whether they will be entirely romance focused with the setting and plot just as backdrop. So good news it is a solid fantasy story and the romance is the after thought. (Well maybe not an after thought.) Or bad news if you like more romance focus.

Anyway I liked it, solid writing and likeable characters. The invaders remain without much details and the book isn't really about figtihng them. (view spoiler)
Fire Logic is a well-written, complexly woven tale of many cultures and elemental magic. It is a story of exile and invasion, resistance, tolerance and intolerance that spans more than fifteen years. Inter-connected strands of the lives of people and peoples whose beliefs and cultures are vastly different come together in a beautiful tapestry of love and rebuilding.

Shaftal is a region which has been invaded by Sainnites, who themselves were driven from their land. The harsh rule of these inva
[screams into the void about how important strong buth queer ladies are]

review pending
Jan 18, 2016 Ana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe I didn't read this book years ago, it was so phenomenal. There were so many things to love here:
- a queer woman of color being at the center of the story, treated with respect and tenderness, getting to be a visionary
- so many complex women who are so different from one another, sometimes come to blows, and yet also find friendship and common ground
- gay/lesbian/queer relationships and affections featuring prominently and happily
- the idea that if we limit our vision of who is v
Aug 07, 2015 Bill rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Horrible, boring, slog.

Let me just put it this way. Here's the message the book conveys: "Men are bad. Men are violent unthinking brutes. The only good man is, gay, weak, and/or ineffectual, preferably all 3.

I love strong female characters, but the author needs to realize that strong female characters doesn't mean that the male characters need to be repulsive.

This is one of the worst examples of boring messagefic I've ever had the misfortune to pick up. Thank God I got it at the library.
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Other Books in the Series

Elemental Logic (3 books)
  • Earth Logic (Elemental Logic, #2)
  • Water Logic (Elemental Logic, #3)

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