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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Books: Steadfast, by Mercedes Lackey 
6th-Jun-2013 08:13 pm
Read Irresponsibly
Steadfast, by Mercedes Lackey. Fantasy. Hardback, 298 pages. 8th in the official series, 9th if you are a stubborn purist like me who insists that The Fire Rose was first, even if DAW didn't publish it.

This is gonna be short. Katie is a reasonably talented circus performer who was pressured into marrying a circus strongman. The strongman developed a taste for abusing her, so she ran away. Lionel is a reasonably talented stage actor who does variety acts at a small theater by the sea. Despite his many talents and his Air magery, he can't keep his female stage assistants (they take other jobs, get married, etc.). He and his man-of-all-trades/best buddy Fire mage Jack are just despairing of their loss of the latest assistant when Katie shows up.

Surprise! Katie is a Fire mage. Don't worry, that isn't a spoiler. It's even in the cover blurb.

Double surprise (not) is that Katie's abusive husband finds her just as she is figuring out who and what she is, falling in love, etc. Really, if you don't know the formula by now, you haven't been reading any Lackey books.

The major difference in this novel from the previous ones is that the Elemental magic is just grafted into the story as convenient color. The magic does not make any concrete difference to the major plot elements, including the big showdown with the bad guys. The story could have been set, plotted, and resolved without any magic whatsoever, and no major plot points would have changed.

This wasn't the worst of the series, but it certainly wasn't the best. I rate it as a cross between brain candy and my version of a beach bag romance. I'll rank it in the middle of the stack. It certainly wasn't as bad as Reserved for the Cat or Unnatural Issue, but also not as good as The Serpent's Shadow or The Fire Rose.

I picked it up because I tend to like these books.
I recommend it to the people who tend to like these books as well. Really, if you enjoyed more than three of the series so far, your standards are low enough that this should be a good fit.

Books for 2013
7th-Jun-2013 01:57 am (UTC)
Wow, that's a glowing pan of a review. And I'll probably get it from the library the next time I need a comfortable fluff book. I do wish the magic were more than mere window dressing though, that will likely disappoint me even with your warning.
7th-Jun-2013 10:21 am (UTC)
Laugh! Now I'm picturing a frying pan on fire.

Yeah, the magic was... sparkly. Like she threw glitter on a painting.
7th-Jun-2013 04:00 am (UTC)
I fail at paying attention. Comes from borrowing books from my mom who gets the bookclub edition of most stuff she collects from pre-ordered.

*SQUEE!!!* New Elemental Masters Book! [dodged the spoilers/review] I'm on it!
7th-Jun-2013 10:20 am (UTC)
No worries about paying attention. Back a few posts is a list of upcoming books that I'm interested in getting that might help you - new Kate Daniels, etc.
7th-Jun-2013 04:48 pm (UTC)
I could use some advice on this series.

I adore (and have reread many times) _The Fire Rose_.

I'm pretty sure I read at least one and possibly two of the rest of the series (early on) and do not remember them at all. I think I started to read one... possibly based on Cinderella?... and drifted away from it without getting more than a chapter or two in. I know several of my friends have read more of this series and say the books vary wildly in quality, that some of them should be skipped entirely.

So, in your opinion, which ones should I read, and in which order? Start from the assumption of "only has read _The Fire Rose_" and go from there.

I'm actually rather looking forward to this, since I enjoy this kind of series. Currently rereading _Rosemary and Rue_ series from the beginning, so I can properly enjoy the most recent book.
7th-Jun-2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
::laugh:: Ok, so my opinion varies wildly from day to day and mood to mood.

The one book in the series that is almost as good as The Fire Rose is The Serpent's Shadow. I'm also kind of pleased with Gates of Sleep, even though I don't like the main character as much.

So if I were to rank them from "read it!" to "don't bother" then I'd say:
Yay! Read these:
The Fire Rose
The Serpent's Shadow
The Gates of Sleep

These are ok
Phoenix and Ashes
The Wizard of London
Home from the Sea
Elemental Masters, short stories by other people in this universe

Um, isn't there a new edition of People or In Touch hitting the stands?
Unnatural Issue
Reserved for the Cat

Edited at 2013-06-07 06:51 pm (UTC)
7th-Jun-2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, she's gotten TOO formulaic on the last several books in this series, which is a shame as she started off so well. It may be that she's sick of the series and is writing dreck just to meet her contractual obligations. I know there have been other stories that she's wanted to work on, but hasn't been allowed to because the publisher wanted more of what she's already done instead of letting her stories come naturally.
14th-Jun-2013 10:35 pm (UTC)
That is one of the reasons that I admire McKinley. If I recall correctly, she only did one "series" (Damar duology) of all of her work. And they publish when she gets around to finishing them.
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