Fire Logic: An Elemental Logic Novel - Laurie J. Marks

Fire Logic is one of those books that I'd heard people talking about, usually people recommending LGBT-positive SFF, but which I'd despaired of getting my hands on due to being on the wrong side of the Atlantic (so minimising the chances of getting hold of the paperback secondhand) and hideously expensive ebook versions. However it recently appeared (alongside Archivist Wasp and other books from the same small press publisher) in a Humble Bundle promotion so I snapped it up...

 

Anyway, on to the book itself, which is the first of a series of 4 (with 3 published to date), covering the four elements which comprise the different kinds of magic in Shaftal, where all the books are set. At the start of Fire Logic, the earth witch leader of Shaftal has recently died and the fellow members of his council have mostly been killed by an attack from the Sainnites, who're waging an ongoing war in order to try and take over the country. Much of the early story is told from the perspective of Zanja, a powerful fire witch who is a representative to the council from an allied tribe and whose people are later wiped out by a Sainnite attack. Forced onto the back foot, the people of Shaftal then wage a guerilla war against the Sainnites and Zanja eventually joins them in this. 

 

Since I don't want to spoil the storyline too much for anyone who's going to read it, I suppose the best way to sum up Fire Logic is to say that even fighting the Sainnites isn't enough to let people always overcome their worst natures. Zanja and her friends find that there are as many problems caused by their supposed allies as their enemies, with the line between the two being blurred by the appearance of a seer who the Sainnites have been using but who is now certain he ought to be on the side of Shaftal instead. Understandably, that's not the easiest crossover to accomplish and puts Zanja in yet another dangerous situation, though not by any stretch the worst she has to deal with along the way. 

 

As this is the first book in a series, naturally everything does not get sorted out at the end but sets matters up well for Earth Logic. I should probably mention that this series is one that takes a pretty matter-of-fact, though not explicit, view of non-heterosexual relationships (as the only issue one of the tribes has is with the concept of casual sex rather than who you're having it with) so if that's an issue for you, these books are not going to be your cup of tea. Also, please admire the lovely covers that have been done for the first two books for Small Beer Press by an extremely talented Australian artist called Kathleen Jennings, rather than the generic fantasy ones for the 2004 Tor publication of this series.