- Series: The Serrated Edge (Book 2)
- Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Baen (October 1, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0671721380
- ISBN-13: 978-0671721381
- Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 1.2 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,825,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wheels Of Fire (Serrated Edge 2) Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1992
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She didn't even stand up to the verbal abuse from a casual character when she should have - at the very least - unleashed her anger at the situation with a sharp retort. (When searching for her missing son at a race track a man told her she must be a bad mother and only could have gotten full custody of a man's son by hiring an expensive lawyer - she cried, of course!) She could have made verbal cutlets of the creep, and it would have at least added a little spunk to her character!
Al and Bob work as mechanics for a race car driving team. There's just one catch - Al happens to be a centuries old elf and Bob a human fosterling brought up after being abused by his father. Al has a soft spot for children as it happens, and when he finds out Jamie is missing, he does everything he can to help.
This is one of the few books in this series that is told mainly from the perspective of an elf, Al. I found the extent of this a little disappointing to be honest - I didn't feel a real connection to Al, and I didn't feel like there was a real difference in the way he and Jamie thought.
The focus on all of these books seems to be the respect of children. There are some pretty horrifying things going on in this book - starvation and sensory deprivation of children under the age of 10 is not exactly nice. Not to mention torturing them with summoning the 'Holy Fire'.
I liked Jamie. And you're not really sure right up until the end whether he is going to survive or not. Joe is a bit of a dark horse, but it's nice to hear some things from his perspective too. There's a good balance here again, you don't feel limited to only Al, yet the transitions are smooth.
The salamander in this novel is one of the few actual strange occurrences - once you get past the fact that there are urban elves. The flashback recounting Al's previous experiences with salamanders is fascinating, and feels genuine and well researched. As a sometimes writer myself, I appreciate the effort that goes into writing a novel like this. I can't believe that this book is a collaboration of three writers! It doesn't come across that way at all, although I would have said that the dominant style would be that of Mercedes Lackey.
This book (the one I'm actually reviewing here, Wheels of Fire) can be found in an omnibus with the next in the series When the Bough Breaks. The novels have been grouped like that because of the authors involved, but the next two reviews I have done of The Chrome Bourne novels actually occur in between.
I'd recommend this book for adults, and mature teenagers. The cult does some very disturbing things that really aren't for polite company. A warning for drugs, violence and supernatural themes I suppose!
I can't believe Cindy's been so stupid. I'd'a cleaned out those accounts weeks ago, and why didn't she change Jamie's school! And talking about stupid, it's hard to believe there could be that many gullible people out there who actually buy into what Brother Joseph sells.
I get a little confused about various scenarios in here. Why would Alinor live in a dirty pit of a trailer when he has construct servants who could be cleaning it? Besides, he has all this magic, why doesn't he wave a hand and make it all disappear. There's Sarah. The timing of her death is all over the place. Joe says that she died long ago and gives me the impression that it's been years, but then it seems as if she only died three months ago.
It's a story from three different perspectives: young Jamie's torture and brief bits of relief when he "chats" with Sarah with side notes from Joe to fill in the rest of the horror; Alinor's background and purpose with SERRA; and, Cindy's frantic efforts to find her son.
The fun comes in with the elves, magic, and car racing to entice you into reading, but the underlying theme about child abuse is what drives these stories in the SERRAted Edge series. So far Lackey and her co-authors have come up with some horrific scenarios. You don't want to believe that people this evil can exist, but still, you know they do.
It's greed for money and power that motivates these bad guys. Heck, it's what motivates most wicked people to do what they do.
It's a moral dilemma for Joe when he gets the promotion, and Lackey/Shepherd do a reasonable job of making us feel the conflict.
An interesting bit of Alinor's background history sheds light on what this Black Thing is. It also sets up a different sort of reason for the Children's Crusade. Made me wonder if that could have been the "reason" for the other crusades. Well, at least in the world of Underhill in Lacky-land.
It's an interesting premise, elves participating in car racing and building engines. I do wish the writing were a tad less juvenile.
It's a desperate mother who stumbles onto the Hallet track. Her ex-husband and Jamie love race cars, and she's hoping someone has seen them. And once Alinor learns of Cindy's plight, he and Bob are pulled right in.
It's just the sort of problem that will attract the elves' attention, for they adore children and will do anything to protect them.
<strong>Cindy Chase</strong> is a mother desperately searching for her kidnapped eight-year-old boy, <strong>Jamie</strong>. He's psychic and the focus of the Church's interest. <strong>James</strong> is her weak-kneed husband, caught up in drink and the Chosen Ones.
<strong>Sieur Alinor Peredon</strong>, Knight-Artificer in the service of Elfhame Outremer, a.k.a., Al Norris, is one of the Folk, a High Court elven mage and mechanic working for <strong>Fairgrove Industries</strong> in Savannah where <strong>Keighvin Silverhair</strong> is his boss. <strong>Andur</strong> is his elvensteed; <strong>Nineve</strong> is his twin sister and willing to help out as a van. <strong>Dierdre Brighthair</strong> is one of their best mechanics. <strong>Liam Silverbranch</strong> is his father; His mother, <strong>Melisande</strong>, has kin in Elfhame Joyeaux Garde in France.<strong> Elaine du Lac </strong>was his grandmother on his mother's side; she fostered Lancelot du Lac. <strong>Huon</strong> was the elf king in France.
<strong>Bob Ferrel</strong> is human and a mechanical genius. He's one of the children rescued from his brutal father, <strong>Joe</strong>, and his useless mother. <strong>Gundar</strong> is his foster father. <strong>Tannim</strong> is a human mage.
<strong>Deputy Frank Casey</strong> is based in Pawnee, and he's desperate for any evidence that will let him invade the compound. <strong>Old George</strong> is still flipping burgers at <strong>Granny's Kitchen</strong>. <strong>Peggy</strong> is still the waitress.<strong> Lieutenant Summer</strong> will take Bob under his wing.
<em>The Chosen Ones</em>
<strong>Brother Joseph</strong> has been reinventing his preacher persona for years now; it figures that he started with the Ku Klux Klan. He's finally got it right with the <strong>Sacred Heart of the Chosen Ones</strong>. <strong>Miss Agatha</strong> is the nasty teacher, one of the many who've bought into the Kool-Aid. <strong>Sarah</strong> is, at first, Jamie's only friend at the compound, and she's trying to save Jamie. <strong>Joe</strong> is Brother Joseph's son, although that doesn't cut him any slack. He has psychic abilities that he's keeping secret. He's also in command of the <strong>Junior Guard</strong>. <strong>Bill</strong> is one of the new guards and not too happy about one of the Church's revenue streams. Other guards include <strong>Billybob</strong> and <strong>Jimmie</strong> among others. <strong>Claudius Williams III</strong> is from Detroit and the flock's lawyer. <strong>Luke</strong> is Brother Joseph's pervert of a second-in-command. <strong>General Plunkett</strong> commands the Guard. <strong>Lieutenant Fisher</strong> had been Joe's instructor in making bombs.
<em>The Children's Crusade</em>
The Black Thing, a.k.a., the Holy Fire, is the <strong>Salamander</strong> that Alinor had first encountered in the <strong>Children's Crusade </strong>hundreds of years ago. Its presence brings out the ugliest emotions of humans. <strong>Al-Hazim</strong>, a.k.a., the Mad Arab, was the old man, an alchemist, who took Alinor on as an apprentice during his year of exile. <strong>Peter the Hermit</strong> was as much a magician as the Mad Arab. Both had their little boxes of bad ju-ju. <strong>Albert</strong> was the young son of a knight who joined the Crusade.
<strong>Robert Weil</strong> is the loser private investigator. <strong>Janet Travis </strong>was the young girl Alinor fell in love with 150 years ago.
<strong>SERRA</strong> is the South Easter Road Racing Association. <strong><em>Alfar</em></strong> and <strong>Sidhe</strong> are other terms for <strong>elf</strong>.
<b>The Cover and Title</b>
The cover has a light royal blue background with a manly Alinor, arms crossing his chest, dressed in a black Nomex suit. In the backgorund is a greenish gray dragon and a white race car while in front of him, the ghostly Sarah reaches out to Jamie. The title looks like one of those decals from the side of a race car with a light brown background and a red border providing a background for the black of the "wheels of" while the "fire" is in red against a mostly black background, the font slanted forward and looking like tire tracks or the wind as it rushes through it.
The title is a confusion. I'm guessing it's meant to refer to the speed of racing, the <em>Wheels of Fire</em>.