A BookPage review by Gavin J. Grant
Laurie Marks's rich and affecting new novel Earth Logic is the second book in her Elemental Logic series which began with Fire Logic (warmly reviewed here in May 2002). Thirty-five years ago, a refugee Sainnite army invaded the land of Shaftal. However, without reinforcements, which aren't coming, the occupying army won't be able to hold on much longer.
Karis, an ex-blacksmith and one-time drug addict, is the long-hidden Shaftali leader. She is a huge woman and has power within her to listen to the earth and to shape objects.
"War cannot make peace." The nonviolent choice is a strong and difficult one, and not everyone
in Shaftal supports it—especially those who have lost family and friends in the occupation. However,
it is what Karis wants, and in Earth Logic "action and understanding are
inseparable," so, although it seems impossible to overcome the warring factions, she is determined
to make it happen.
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Fantasy & Science Fiction review
"Books to Look For"
by Charles de Lint
Earth Logic picks up with the characters from the first book, but adds
into the mix sections from the viewpoints of some of the Sainnite characters, in particular the half-Sannite
philosopher and fire elemental Medric (first introduced in the earlier book and now allied with that novel's
core group of characters), and Lieutenant-General Clement, a female officer of the Sainnite forces in
The military aspect is still present, but it's complicated by a deadly plague that doesn't distinguish between Sainnite and Shaftali. Marks doesn't take the easy way out by having them come together in brotherhood to combat this menace. Her solution is a longer, stranger, and far more complicated story than that, though the climax, when it does come, evokes that elusive sense of wonder again, rather than military might.
By this second book, the series has gained an overall title — Elemental Logic — which appears to promise more stories to come. And since the second volume plays as fair as the first (it's a complete novel, of and by itself), and is, if anything, even better written than the first, I'm certainly looking forward to what Marks comes up with next. We might have to wait another two years for the next one, but it will be worth the wait.
I've spent some time on these two books (with one of them being older than I'd normally consider covering
in this column) for two simple reasons. The first is easy: they're two of the best books I've read in
a very long time.
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An Emerald City review by Cheryl Morgan
Laurie Marks’ Elemental Logic series has a well-worked out philosophy of elemental magic behind it. The first book of the series, Fire Logic, was all fast-paced action and lots of violence. Book #2, Earth Logic, is much calmer and proceeds at a slower pace. Fire Logic centered upon the warrior-diplomat, Zanja, and her experiences as a guerilla fighter opposing the Sainnite invasion of Shaftal. Earth Logic is more about Karis G’deon, the spiritual leader of Shaftal who rejects Councilor Mabin’s guerilla army and instead tries to find a peaceful solution...
When Marks wrote Fire Logic the US-British conquest of Iraq was still a dream in George Bush’s eye. Now it is an ugly reality. So, in Earth Logic, is the Sainnite occupation of Shaftal. There are barely enough Sainnite troops to contain Mabin and her guerillas. They are totally reliant on the cowed local population for supplies. They are not settlers, but they can’t go home.
It is an ambitious thing to do, in this time of enemies and hatreds, to suggest that a conflict can
be resolved by peaceable means. Laurie Marks believes that it can be done, and she relies relatively little
on magic to make it work.
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An SFRevu by Victoria McManus
Earth Logic continues the tale of the people of Shaftal and the invading Sainnites, this time addressing the problem from the viewpoint of earth bloods, whose elemental natures are directed by the earth.
Earth bloods are those who humbly and stubbornly repair and sustain life to keep it in its optimum state. Earth Logic is always present both in concept and in the book's narrative; it's shown more than told as the characters make tools and cook food and form families. A secondary theme involves books and how they both inform us and change us from within. It's gratifying to think of books as things that repair and sustain us. This theme is also present throughout the novel in the form of oral storytelling, both in the myths presented between the novel's sections and in stories told by the characters to each other.
Earth Logic is not a book of large battles and heart-stopping chases; rather,
it's more gradual and contemplative and inexorable, like the earth bloods who people it. It's a novel
of the everyday folk who are often ignored in fantasy novels, the farmers and cooks and healers. In this
novel, the everyday lives side by side with the extraordinary, and sometimes within it; Karis herself
embodies the power of ordinary, mundane methods to change the world. In the end, she applies her immense
magic in simple ways to arrive at a solution that a more flamboyant magical hero might have overlooked
entirely. I found the book eminently absorbing and satisfying, like a good, solid meal. If you don't like
"traditional" fantasy, give Laurie Marks' work a try.
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A FeministSF Review by Laura Quilter
The Elemental Logic books confront questions of personal growth and social conflict with beautiful
steady pacing and extraordinary characterizations. I've rarely been so pleased to pick up an author again
after a number of years without publications, and look forward to going back and re-reading her earlier
work to trace her development as an author. The Elemental Logic books display a subtlety and deftness
that reminds me of Ursula Le Guin.
That's the whole review!
A PlaidAdder.com review by Plaidder
Karis, who was identified as the next G'Deon of Shaftal many years ago but who ... has never been able to take up her position, is living with Zanja and the rest of the gang from Fire Logic in relative obscurity. ... Karis will have to become the G'Deon, but she refuses to do it on the terms offered to her by her former adversary Mabin. Zanja and the gang decide they need to work out a way to make it possible for Karis to act, and thus begins what becomes a very strange plot.
Each of the five sections is introduced by a folk tale from a different culture, each of which is simple and yet at the same time will give you food for thought for a solid week. They're all very inventive and often very funny, but deadly serious at the same time. Medric, who readers will remember fondly from Fire Logic, spends much of the book working feverishly at completing A History of My Father's People, which he is convinced can save the world if only he can get 500 copies printed up and distributed by winter. And that's something that I really do value about Marks's universe: a faith in the power of story to succeed where ideology, technology, and the military fail, and create the possibilities that the world desperately needs.
For all of Karis's difficulties she proves irresistible once she's finally on the move, and despite
everything the book puts you through it delivers a resolution that's satisfying and, yes, happy, without
being cheap or contrived. It does your heart good just to get there, and I can only hope that Marks's
book will become a small part of the process of trying to work out a solution to our own problems.
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A few reviews in print
- Marks, Laurie J. Earth Logic. (Book Review). Jackie Cassada. Library Journal 129.1 (Jan 2004): p167(1).
- Earth Logic: Elemental Logic: Book Two. (Brief Article) (Book Review). Publishers Weekly 251.5 (Feb 2, 2004): p64(1).
- Marks, Laurie J. Earth Logic. (Young Adult Review) (Book Review). Paula
Booklist 100.11 (Feb 1, 2004): p956(1).