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Phoenix and Ashes (Elemental Masters Series #4)

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Following her acclaimed novels The Serpent's Shadow and The Gates of Sleep, Mercedes Lackey reinvents a classic fairy tale-and gives it a new twist. In a dark and atmospheric retelling of Cinderella, she sets her story in London during the first World War.

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Phoenix and Ashes (Elemental Masters Series #4)

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Following her acclaimed novels The Serpent's Shadow and The Gates of Sleep, Mercedes Lackey reinvents a classic fairy tale-and gives it a new twist. In a dark and atmospheric retelling of Cinderella, she sets her story in London during the first World War.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Phoenix and Ashes, the third installment in Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series -- which includes The Serpent's Shadow and The Gates of Sleep -- is a dark and fantastical retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale set in WWI England.

For young Eleanor Robinson, life is idyllic -- her widowed father is a wealthy business owner, everyone in the small English community happily coexists with everyone else, and Eleanor even has aspirations of attending Oxford in the fall. But then, in a matter of months, her whole world is turned upside down. Arriving home from an out-of-town business trip, Eleanor's father shows up with a new wife on his arm, as well as her two daughters. The warm, loving household is suddenly turned upside down by the evil machinations of a truly wicked woman and her two materialistic offspring. With the beginning of WWI, Eleanor's father voluntarily enlists and is killed in action -- leaving poor Eleanor in the hands of her stepmother. To make matters worse, her stepmother is a powerful Elemental Master who, through ritualistic black magic, binds her to the house. No matter how hard she tries, Eleanor is forever enslaved inside her own home. But as the stepmother and her daughters plot to seduce a local military hero (who happens to be handsome and rich), Eleanor begins to come to grips with her own budding Elemental powers.

Fans of fantasy novels with strong fairy tale elements -- like Patricia A. McKillip's Alphabet of Thorn and In the Forests of Serre -- will enjoy Lackey's newest, especially the happily-ever-after ending. Paul Goat Allen

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756402723
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/4/2005
  • Series: Elemental Masters Series , #4
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 214,496
  • Product dimensions: 4.34 (w) x 6.68 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Mercedes Lackey is a full-time writer and has published numerous novels and works of short fiction, including the best-selling Heralds Of Valdemar series. She is also a professional lyricist and a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots. She can be found at

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 54 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2006

    Phoenix and Ashes

    I read the book Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey, and found it to be an intriguing book. It is a fantasy novel about a young woman named Eleanor Robinson and a young war hero, Reginald Fenyx. Eleanor is the character the author develops the most, even though Reginald (Reggie) is a very important character. The author mostly uses actions and dialog to develop the characters, with the occasional internal thought here and there for variety. The setting in this story is extremely significant, because it plays into the plot. It is set during World War I, with the trench warfare and whatnot, and the older airplanes that Reggie flies. Most of the story is set in a little town in England called Broom, where most of the men had been shipped off to war, or had come home completely changed. This sets the mood for the story, which really makes it all the more interesting. I think that the main things the author likes to do are dialog, and suspense and action sequences. I enjoyed the fact that there were hardly any idle chapters there was always something important happening. Also, the chapters would switch between Eleanor to Reggie¿s point of view, which gives the reader a chance to understand what is happening from two different perspectives. I also liked the realism about the war. When one of the characters is walking around the town, the author usually makes a point to describe some point of life that has changed, for better or worse, because of the war. One of my favorite quotes is ¿All the shellshock victims were in this end of the ward, together. Sometimes Reggie thought, cynically, it was so that their screaming in nightmares and shaking fits by day wouldn¿t bother anyone else.¿ The reason I like it is because it introduces the blunt way the author writes her story early on, so you know it¿s not going to be a frilly, avoid-the-bad-parts book. I really liked how thorough the author was in her descriptions of people and places, but what bugged me was the lack of development in Reggie¿s character. How she set it up made it seem like Reggie was going to be a very important character, but then most of the focus was on Eleanor. Not that I didn¿t love her character, but I would¿ve liked to learn more about Reggie, and what happened to him in the war, maybe a little more of his personality. I would really recommend this book to anyone who likes fast-paced fantasies. If you like a lot of politics, this doesn¿t have it, so I wouldn¿t recommend it. It has a lot of magic and a bit of a love story, too, if you like that. Overall, I think it is a really good book, and I¿m looking forward to reading more of Mercedes Lackey¿s books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    intriguing retelling of Cinderella

    While World War I rages in Europe, in Broom, England widower Charles Robinson is a successful merchant raising his daughter Eleanor. One day he returns from a business trip with a surprise for Eleanor; he introduces her new ¿mother¿ his wife Alison and her two daughters. Almost immediate after the nuptials, he signs on for trench warfare and dies in combat.--- Alison, a dark Earth Master, binds Eleanor to the house with an obedience spell. Meanwhile former pilot and Air Master Reggie Fenyx returns home believing he lost his magical prowess when he was tormented by earth elementals. Though depressed the family ball is coming up and he will play the role of good host. Eleanor, who has loved Reggie, begins serendipitously to learn to use her skill as a Fire Master. If Alison finds out what she is doing too soon she knows she is doomed, but perhaps at the ball Reggie will realize she is his life mate and together combining the power of fire and air with love they can defeat earth.--- This is an intriguing retelling of Cinderella that combines history and fantasy to tell an adult fairy tale. Alison is a terrifically sinister malevolence while Eleanor is her perfect unsure opponent and slave. Reggie suffers from battle fatigue that has sapped him of his natural abilities leaving him magically impaired, which makes him an interesting protagonist. Though the story line at times is overwhelmed with historical details that seem unnecessary even if they provide in most cases a World War I era ambience, Mercedes Lackey provides a fine rendition of the classic tale with her latest Elemental Masters novel.--- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2013

    All of Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Magic series are educational.

    All of Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Magic series are educational...on a subliminal level.  Surely, she is using Grimm as a template, but it is well worth the information she shares.  She has done her homework, and given much more within the covers of a tale, then you'd ever get in most "wiccan" tombs.  It's delightful to roam through each book and find new items to think about.  Don't miss this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2013

    Firepaw to Lilypaw


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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2013

    Lilypaws song of wonder

    The birds they siiing all day long, the bid they flyyy through the sky. And IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII Seeeee the liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight... Through miles of purple fooog and we fly out of the dark in the wind I coooonceal through you. Blaaaack and whiiiite in my eyes... cant see no color in these eyes, and wonder what ahead....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2013


    Love it&hearts

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  • Posted April 14, 2012


    Who doesn't love a Cinderella story? This version is set in WW I England. It has a noble prince, actually a wealthy young lord, who is a pilot recovering from shell shock. Cinderella is magically bound to be her step-mother's servant, and though there is a fairy godmother type character, Ella does most of her own rescuing. The wicked step-mother is deliciously vile and her daughters are Edwardian era mean girls. Woven throughout the story is Lackey's world of elemental magic beneath the surface of high society England. If you enjoyed PBS's recent series "Downton Abbey" and like good fantasy literature, you'll love "Phoenix and Ashes". Although it's part of tbe Elemental Masters series, you don't need to have read the other stories (but you really should they are all excellent) to read "Phoenix and Ashes".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011


    An endearing tale i immediatly loved it. I own it in paperback ;) just in case batteries die.

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  • Posted May 4, 2009

    Lackey lives up to her name

    As usual Lackey writes an excellent story. I'm particularly a fan of her Elemental Master's books, especially those which take a spin on classic fairytales. This is another of those. The best part about these books however, is that they are completely stand-alone. You can read only this one, or read the whole series, or read them in any order.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great book for a rainy day

    I am a Lackey fan. I have read the entire Valdemar Chronology, the Elvenbanes, the Jousts, and the Black Obsidians and the current Phoenixes. This was my first venture into Lackey's Elemental Masters Series. Phoenix and Ashes is a retake of the Cinderella story with Cinderella having magic herself. It was an interesting to see the story set during WWI. However, it is a story that everyone knows the basic ending. It has a few twists that makes it fun to read, but predictable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2007

    Good, but with issues.

    I liked parts of the book, the concepts of the elemental creatures were interesting. However, I didn't like several things. Some of the earlier parts of the book were never touched upon again, rather more of an aside that is never given more thought. Whether the author meant it to be percieved this way or not I do not know, but there is at least several parts of the book that seem very 'guy bashing' related. Maybe its just me, but there are defintley some areas where the author pretty much just blames men in general. The chapter with the cards, revolves around her denying the man part. The part where shes talking with the older witch and compare men to dogs. The part where they pretty much blame the entire war on men being 'stubborn.' I especially wanted to know what happened to the disease earth elemental the villainess sent to kill off the soldiers. In general I liked the concepts, just not very well implemented into a final product. I might read over other books of the series and see if this changes (I know theres one about the sorceress at least)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    Cinderella with Magic

    This was a great quick read. It got me hooked right away and I was actually sad I couldn't keep reading when I got to the end. It's a fantasy and a romance and a critique on war.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2006

    One of my all time favorites

    Phoenix and Ashes is without a doubt one of the best books Mercedes Lackey has written (this includes the Valdamar series). Mercedes Lackey's use of time and setting as plot points is invaluable in creating an atmosphere. Additionally, her blend of the occult with the magical is seemless. In this novel you get a just enough of everything without too much of one thing. Just enough about the war, the class differences, the aftermath of war, magic and occult.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2006

    Phoenix and Ashes is thought provoking and inspiring

    I loved this book. Eleanor's dream journeys were probably my favorite part of the book. This story is more about suspense and gaining knowledge then it is about action. Phoenix and Ashes takes the Cinderella framework to tell a completely different story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2005

    A Solid Story

    A very solid story from a respected author, Mercedes Lackey. The plot is well thought out and the characters have depth. It's a Cinderella remake with magic and spells in a European setting, during the Cold War (if I remember right). Incase you need to be told it's part of Elemental series, which is pretty 'solid' series and this is a great adaptation. Turn away though, if you're expecting any hardcore fantasy action, this novel would fall under Fantasy-Romance for the most part.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2005



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2005

    Memorable in a good way

    This retelling of the classic Cinderella story complete with two evil step sisters and magic is one of Mercedes Lackey's best stories. It lacks a little of the pizazz of some of her other story's, but makes it up in charm. You become attached to the characters and their situation, but when it ends there is this nagging feeling that something is missing from the story itself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2004

    Something is Lacking, no pun intended

    I have been a huge Misty Lackey fan since Arrows of the Queen way back in 1980 something. I love her Valdemar series and her Bardic Voices and the Serrated edge series is good as well. But her Elemental Masters leaves something to be desired. The basic premise of the series--rewriting old fairy tales--is loaded with potential. In fact, I loved the Fire Rose, which was the first book in it, and is oddly enough not listed in the title selection. But the other two books in the series--Serpent's Shadow and The Gates of Sleep are poorly edited and her characters and plot are either boring or cliche, with none of the surprises or character definition I've come to expect from this author. I just don't get it. This last book, from the jacket, seemed like a better book than the previous two. It's a retelling of Cinderella, set during World War I in England. Eleanor, a wealthy merchant's daughter who dreams of going to Oxford, is also a latent Fire Master. Her father marries Alison, the wicked stepmother who is a dark Earth Master along with her two selfish arrogant daughters, who also possess a bit of magic. Then Eleanor's father is killed in the war and Alison makes her a slave by using a dark magic rite to bind her to the house and obeidience with her own finger. Meanwhile you meet Reggie Fenyx, a lord whom Eleanor was half in love with, standing in for the prince. Reggie is a pilot and Air Master who has been horribly traumatized by battle, injured, and suffering from Post traumatic stress syndrome. He was shot down, had his co-pilot die, was badly injured and then buried alive in a bunker and tormented by evil earth elementals. he believes he's lost his magic and no one can help him, so they send him home to convalesce. he happens to live right near Eleanor. That was the beginning of the book, and it seemed like a good start. However, the whole focus of the story gets bogged down with too many details about the villainesses and what they're wearing, doing, and eating, mentions of certain spells they've cast (at one point Alison makes a plague strike the Americans to keep them out of the war--was Lackey referring to the Spanish flue epidemic that hit the US around that time and delayed their entry into combat? I don't know and you never find out, it never gets mentioned again)there is about two paragraphs of a guest list for the ball mentioning friends of Reggie's that you never meet or see which is utterly pointless because you don't care about them. There are also several descriptions about how Eleanor learns how to use her powers that are interesting, but yet she never demonstrates her knowledge, not even in the final battle. And there was not enough interaction between her and Reggie. They meet a few times in a meadow, have a stupid fight, and then he invites her to the ball, where she blurts out that she loves him that's it. Reggie, who has been suffering reoccuring bouts of fear is miraculously cured by his godmother, I think, a person who we don't even meet until well into the novel and who frankly we could have done without. I felt as if something were missing--again! It should have been Eleanor, as Reggie's supposed soul mate, that should have helped him discover his powers again and helped him heal from his disability--not some deus ex machina godmother. Why bother giving Eleanor intensive training in how to balance and heal mind, body, and spirit if you're not going to have her make use of it on the one who needs it? I was very disappointed, I felt like I was cheated of what could have been a really wonderful magical love story. Ever After with Drew Barrymore was done much better, in my opinion!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews

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