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Phoenix and Ashes

(Elemental Masters #3)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  7,775 ratings  ·  262 reviews
Mercedes Lackey's magical Elemental Masters series recasts familiar fairy tales in a richly-imagined alternate Victorian world

Eleanor Robinson’s life had shattered when Father volunteered for the Great War, leaving her alone with a woman he had just married. Then the letter came that told of her father’s death in the trenches and though Eleanor thought things couldn’t get
Paperback, 468 pages
Published October 4th 2005 by DAW (first published October 4th 2004)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  7,775 ratings  ·  262 reviews

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Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Ok, M. Lackey has three writing styles. One, she doesn't like it and has to meet a deadline. Two, she likes what she's doing, but she doesn't have it fleshed out. Three, she has a full story and all the time she wants. This one is a number three.

It's one of the longer Elemental Masters. It's easily the size of "Wizard of London" twice over. This is her Cinderella, set in 1916, between an English farmgirl and a wounded pilot. Both characters are fleshed out nicely. Usually the 'prince' in a fair
Jul 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Growing up in a nerd household, I had often heard of Mercedes Lackey. She is, after all, one of the most prolific science fiction/ Fantasy authors out there. Phoenix and Ashes was the first book of hers I’d gotten around to reading, and I was overall content with it. Her characters, though magical, were grounded in the pain and sorrow of everyday life. They deal with the injustices of classism and sexism. They deal with the horrors of war.
It is a modernized telling of Cinderella, complete with
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Take one part Cinderella (with hints of Harriet Potter), one part All Quiet on the Western Front, one part Downton Abbey, and one part alchemy, and mix well.

This is the story of Eleanor (Ellie) Robinson, a girl who has been enslaved by her evil stepmother upon her father's death, and of Reggie Fenyx, a gentleman pilot who has become severely damaged from service in World War I. Reggie and Evil Stepmother are Masters of earth elements--air and earth, respectively--and Ellie is just starting to re
Jill Furedy
Jul 15, 2012 rated it liked it
So the elemental masters can join the dark side. There were lots of dark beasties in this one, which was different, though not nearly as maliciously fun as it could have been; and for a while I thought Alison was going to be the most challenging villian yet (I am reading the series in order, though there seems no particular reason to do so as they all stand alone perfectly well). But then the hemming and hawing started, and Lady Virginia shows up to throw in her curve ball, and the evil gets dis ...more
Aug 01, 2013 rated it liked it
This one is a retelling of Cinderella.
Again, I will have to complain at the lack of consistency. Evil stepmother does away with father... without making sure he changed his will?? Seriously? Evil stepmother casts a curse on stepdaughter (pretty gruesomely) to make sure no one recognizes her... while her godmother, a minor witch still lives in the village and knows what's going on - and does nothing? The Masters of London do not feel the taint of evil coming from stepmother? Etc etc
Also Ellie (t
Jan 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fairy-tales
Of all the books in the Elemental Masters series this was my favorite. It is a retelling of Cinderella set in the time of WWI in England. This book follows the traditional fairy tale more than the other books in the series, and that might have been part of the magic to me. It is interesting to see all the unique ways that the author has incorporated the traditional parts of the Cinderella story into this much darker tale of magic.

Like all of the books in the Elemental Master series this book ca
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historic, low-fantasy
This is really bit changed version of the Cinderella.

Evil Step-mother is also evil witch too
Cinderella is also elemental mage
Prince is only noble, but he is also soldier and elemental mage, but he is injured in first world war and has also deep emotioal scars from war.

And typical for this series Mereces Lackey describes in great detail how people live in time period described in book. So this time we get to know how difficult life were in England during war and how losing millions of soldiering
Giselle Bradley
3.5 Stars. Okay, so I've figured out something about Lackey with this book. Her stories and how she weaves the fairytale elements into them are really good and make the experience great. But in the 3 books I've read in this series so far there has yet to be a flushed out romance. And these were all books with strong romance plots. I never believe the romance. Ever. It may be cute and I may believe that eventually these characters would fall in love but I have yet to believe that they are in love ...more
Jannah Cloud Child
Much much more satisfying than my last read of this author

Unlike the other books I've read by her so far this one seems more fully fleshed out in terms of character development and motivations, plot continuity, and the climax/ ending is much more satisfying (usually this is my biggest problem with her work).

Eleanor Robinson is a young aspiring scholar in early 1900s (something I love about Lackey is her female characters are always defying convention in some form) who means to study in Oxfor
Kat  Hooper
Sep 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature. Life's too short to read bad books!

Each of Mercedes Lackey’s ELEMENTAL MASTERS novels is a stand-alone fairytale retelling. Some of the novels have overlapping characters, but you can read these books in any order. The fourth book, Phoenix and Ashes, is a mostly pleasant Cinderella story set in England during The Great War. Maya, the Indian doctor from The Serpent’s Shadow, is a minor character. I listened to Michel
Elizabeth S
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the Cinderella one. I am amazed how Lackey is able to flesh out traditional fairy tales, mix them with her Elemental Magic system, and then place it in the real world such that it fits plausibly.

I also like that the villains make plans, but aren't always able to execute them. The good-guys, even minor characters, do things to adjust the plans at various times throughout the book. In most stories, the villains seem unstoppable until the very end. But in this series, the villains have set
Sabrina Barnett
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've read a million (ish) of Mercedes Lackey's books, burning through them with especial zeal when I was in middle and high school, and, well, they're all kinda the same and, well, that's kinda awesome. These are not deep or Earth -shattering books, but they are warm and companionable reads, with a focus on kindness and valuing intellect that may feel schmaltzy to some, but always felt like a nice place to visit, particularly as a vulnerable pre-teen and teenager. Lackey always tells her fairy t ...more
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
After being disappointed by 'Gates of Sleep', Phoenix and Ashes perked me right up. It was cool to see that Eleanor was a Fire Master, and I think 'Fenyx' was a clever name to choose for Reginald. Setting this against the backdrop of WWI also worked rather well, and overall I'd recommend this book, but not without reading 'Serpent's Shadow' first. ...more
I could not sleep one night and so started to listen to this audiobook on my MP3 player. I decided that I would continue with it as my audiobook-on-the-go for moments like this or at the gym.

Unlike others in the series I got through this quite quickly and felt it was the best so far in the series.
An extremely good version of Cinderella. Lots of sobering background about the effects of WWI on the small towns of England, and the troops in the mud in France.
Jan 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
Much, much, too much detailed witchcraft in this book. So disappointing. I enjoyed the premise and loved the glimpse of the heroine from the first book, but I cannot get past the glorification of stuff that is scary and dangerous.
Jess Hale
Jun 19, 2016 rated it liked it
An entertaining read with slight pacing problems.

I enjoy the books in the Elemental Masters series, fairytale retellings with elemental magic. This is a Cinderella story set during WWI.

I enjoyed the main characters and the potential for their romance. Both Ella and Reggie have problems and it's satisfying to see them overcome them. I thought there wasn't much development of their connection, though.

The villains were, in typical Lackey fashion, truly villainous. As with other books I could have
What's amazing is that not much actually happened throughout the whole thing. Over half of it was magical theory and Eleanor dreaming her way through Tarot cards. And yet, it was still brilliant.

I've never been a huge Cinderella fan, but this novel did a fabulous job retelling the original fairy tale, along with some history and magic. I really liked Eleanor and Reggie as well as the supporting cast, and Alison and company were very satisfying villains.

Perhaps my only real complaint was that the
May 05, 2014 rated it liked it
It was fairly fun to read through but felt like a bit of a waste of time when I was finished.
She always picks out pretty obvious themes in her books and stresses them fairly strongly - this time round the stupidity of war and discrimination based on class and sex.
Some of it was interesting, but some of it was just over detail that bogged the story down. Can't say there was much closure or excitement at the end either, compared to how long the build up was.
All in all, not one of my favourite ML
Jan 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite books by Lackey. She's only a middling talented writer--at times, she can be brilliant, but other books are dreadful--and this is one of her better books. It's certainly got one of the best developed magic systems of any of her books. ...more
Some interesting information about the Tarot, as well as sobering background about the effect of the war in the trenches on the British soldiers and their families.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have long loved Lackey's "The Fire Rose" for it's unconventional retelling of Beauty and the Beast. "Phoenix and Ashes" is an equally unconventional retelling of Cinderella set in Lackey's world of Elemental Masters and Magic. Cinderella's name in this story is Eleanor or sometimes, Ellie.

It makes a lot of sense to think that magic is at work in the Cinderella story - more so than just to get her to the ball - but to keep her as an anonymous servant in her own house. Alison is the Evil Stepmot
Julia A
I love a good fairytale reimagining, but they are certainly not all created equal, and so I always go in hoping for the best with an edge of trepidation. So I'm happy to report that Phoenix and Ashes was one of the better Cinderella-based reimaginings I've read! With solid world-building, natural development of relationships between characters, a believable villain with motivations suitable to the time and her backstory, and a Cinderella who never panders to her prince nor waits on someone else ...more
Jan 03, 2021 added it
Shelves: dnf
DNF at around 140 pages.
Because I didn't even get halfway through this book, I feel like I shouldn't give it a star rating at all, because I don't have as much of a sense for how it would be at the end. Technically this was a reread, which makes the fact that I couldn't finish it even more surprising to me. I remember loving this book so much just a few years ago.
And even now, I can see what I liked so much about this book. The retelling of Cinderella is fairly clever. The reason she hangs arou
Oct 07, 2020 rated it really liked it

I once again started on the third book in a series without knowing that it was the third book. That's okay though, I think that these can easily be read as standalones. Kind of urban fantasy? I'm not entirely sure where to place this, like historical fantasy fiction? It's also a fairy tale retelling, so once again there is a lot going on here.

Eleanor was set to be one of the first females to attend Oxford, though they aren't yet handing out degrees to women. Then her father married an evil woma

Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Elemental Masters #3
Retelling of Cinderella at the time of World War I.

Cinderella is played here by the character of Eleanor Robinson, a young woman who is working hard to be admitted to Oxford University. Only her father - literally bewitched by a Dark Earth Elemental Master - remarries, bringing his new wife, Alison, and two stepdaughters home before taking off to join the war effort. And dying in the process.

Evil stepmother binds Eleanor (in a rather gruesome manner) as a servant in her own h
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an amazingly well done retelling of 'Cinderella'!
I just don't know how Mercedes Lackey manages to make a story about characters in a version of history that all feels simultaneously like reality and a fairy tale. I just got pulled in and taken along on the adventure, and even though I knew the basis of the fairy tale being told, I still got repeatedly surprised along the way. The next part of my review might be considered edging into spoilery, so proceed with caution...

[Musical interlud
Silvio Curtis
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The fairy tale inspiration (Cinderella) is most visible in this volume so far. Eleanor Robinson was going to study literature at Oxford until her evil new stepmother bewitched her father (literally) into volunteering for World War I and getting killed, then magically enslaved her to herself and her daughters. The other main character, Reginald Fenyx, is an Air Master who joined the air force and has been sent back with serious PTSD. The plot runs at a fairly even and natural-seeming pace, driven ...more
Arliegh Kovacs
Mercedes Lackey's 'Elemental Masters' series include an abundance of my favorites. This one is a take on the Cinderella story (set during WWI in England). Eleanor Robinson has lost her father and gained the Wicked Stepmother and two Wicked Stepsisters who work magic to tie her to the hearth (she can only go a short distance form the house). And, if that isn't bad enough, she is compelled to follow every order given her by Alison (evil step-mum). And, even when she is sent into the town on errand ...more
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is one of her largest books in the series, and is Cinderella set amongst the horrible backdrop of World War I. I love how in depth both Eleanor (Cinderella) and Reggie, her 'Prince,' a World War I pilot, are as characters. They have a lot in common due to what they have seen and experienced, and that, in my view, makes them highly compatible.

Lackey's descriptions of life and war are so very well done, sometimes they are painful to read. She captures whatever period she is focusing on so wel
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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & M ...more

Other books in the series

Elemental Masters (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters, #1)
  • The Gates of Sleep (Elemental Masters, #2)
  • The Wizard of London (Elemental Masters, #4)
  • Reserved for the Cat (Elemental Masters, #5)
  • Unnatural Issue (Elemental Masters, #6)
  • Home from the Sea (Elemental Masters, #7)
  • Steadfast (Elemental Masters #8)
  • Blood Red (Elemental Masters, #9)
  • From a High Tower (Elemental Masters, #10)
  • A Study in Sable (Elemental Masters #11)

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