Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey

Katie Langford has performed with the circus since she was a child - first with her parents, and then after their tragic death, with her husband Dick.  It is not an easy life, she works hard to maintain her flexibility and keep her performances to a high standard, but that is more and more difficult as she watches her abusive husband drink and whore their money away.  It is a life with no breaks, no chances - only the same routine over and over again as the circus travels from village to village performing for whatever money they can.  Certain that things are not right, Katie looks for help among the women of the circus but they offer nothing - Katie belongs to her husband just as she used to belong to her father, and in the eyes of the law Dick can do what he wants with her and face no consequences.

Driven to breaking point, Katie takes her share of their earnings and runs away from the circus, seeking a chance at a new life away from her abusive husband and the only life she has ever known.  She has no real plan, all she wants to do is escape and it seems as though fortune is smiling on her because through a small series of chance events she finds herself employed as a magicians assistant in the popular seaside town of Brighton.  It is a completely different way of life, she has a place to call home, and a permanent job with a wage in an act that stays in one place - the Palace Music Hall in Brighton.  The only real dark mark is the knowledge that Dick can turn up one day and take her away to the circus, and there is nothing she can do to stop him.

Surrounded by people who care about her Katie starts to relax and enjoy herself a little, even though the work is physically demanding she has a safe place to sleep, she is making friends, and she has a chance at a future away from Dick.  The people who care about her know that she is hiding something, but they don't press her until they discover something about Katie that even she never knew - Katie has the power of Fire.  Her employer Lionel Hawkins is an Air Magician and one of the theatre workers Jack Prescott shares the ability of Fire, and between them they must teach Katie to control her ability before it leaps out of control and destroys her life.

Steadfast is the latest book in the Elemental Masters series from Mercedes Lackey.  The last two books in the series were not as much to my taste as the earlier books in the series, but Steadfast has seen a return to more of the storytelling that I like - although I have enjoyed all the books in the series to varying degrees.  The cast of this novel is smaller than some of the others, and reminds me very much of Reserved for the cat as some of the characters from the wider story arc of the series are not featured prominently - this really is a story about Katie and the people around her rather than just another book in the series.  Another addictive read and (slightly) guilty pleasure.

If you like this book then try:
  • The Fire rose by Mercedes Lackey
  • The serpent's shadow by Mercedes Lackey
  • Reserved for the cat by Mercedes Lackey
  • Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey
  • Firebird by Mercedes Lackey
  • Deerskin by Robin McKinley
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Rose daughter by Robin McKinley
  • Spindle's end by Robin McKinley
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Reviewed by Brilla

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