Book Review: Mercedes Lackey & Mark Shepherd’s Wheels of Fire

Posted December 28, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Mercedes Lackey & Mark Shepherd’s Wheels of Fire

Wheels of Fire


Mark Shepherd, Mercedes Lackey

It is part of the , Elves on the Road series and is a urban fantasy in Paperback edition that was published by Baen Books on January 2, 2001 and has 400 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books in this series include Bedlam's Edge, Born to Run, When the Bough Breaks, Arcanum 101, Silence

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Unnatural Issue, "The River's Gift", Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar, Foundation, Intrigues, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, Owlknight, Charmed Destinies, Changes, Beauty and the Werewolf, Invasion, Home From the Sea, Dead Reckoning, Conspiracies, Bedlam's Edge, Crown of Vengeance, Redoubt, Harvest Moon, World Divided, Elemental Magic: All New Tales of the Elemental Masters, Sacrifices, Steadfast, Burdens of the Dead, Bastion, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Games Creatures Play, Closer to Home, Born to Run, When the Bough Breaks, Chrome Circle, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Arcanum 101, A Tangled Web, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea

Second in the SERRAted Edge urban fantasy series (part of Lackey’s Elves on the Road super series) and revolving around race-car-driving elves and their human friends. The focus is on Alinor in Hallet, Oklahoma.

My Take

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 Lackey-land.

It’s an interesting premise, elves participating in car racing and building engines. I do wish the writing were a tad less juvenile.

The Story

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.

The Characters

Cindy Chase is a mother desperately searching for her kidnapped eight-year-old boy, Jamie. He’s psychic and the focus of the Church’s interest. James is her weak-kneed husband, caught up in drink and the Chosen Ones.

Sieur Alinor Peredon, 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 Fairgrove Industries in Savannah where Keighvin Silverhair is his boss. Andur is his elvensteed; Nineve is his twin sister and willing to help out as a van. Dierdre Brighthair is one of their best mechanics. Liam Silverbranch is his father; His mother, Melisande, has kin in Elfhame Joyeaux Garde in France. Elaine du Lac was his grandmother on his mother’s side; she fostered Lancelot du Lac. Huon was the elf king in France.

Bob Ferrel is human and a mechanical genius. He’s one of the children rescued from his brutal father, Joe, and his useless mother. Gundar is his foster father. Tannim is a human mage.

Deputy Frank Casey is based in Pawnee, and he’s desperate for any evidence that will let him invade the compound. Old George is still flipping burgers at Granny’s Kitchen. Peggy is still the waitress. Lieutenant Summer will take Bob under his wing.

The Chosen Ones
Brother Joseph 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 Sacred Heart of the Chosen Ones. Miss Agatha is the nasty teacher, one of the many who’ve bought into the Kool-Aid. Sarah is, at first, Jamie’s only friend at the compound, and she’s trying to save Jamie. Joe 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 Junior Guard. Bill is one of the new guards and not too happy about one of the Church’s revenue streams. Other guards include Billybob and Jimmie among others. Claudius Williams III is from Detroit and the flock’s lawyer. Luke is Brother Joseph’s pervert of a second-in-command. General Plunkett commands the Guard. Lieutenant Fisher had been Joe’s instructor in making bombs.

The Children’s Crusade
The Black Thing, a.k.a., the Holy Fire, is the Salamander that Alinor had first encountered in the Children’s Crusade hundreds of years ago. Its presence brings out the ugliest emotions of humans. Al-Hazim, a.k.a., the Mad Arab, was the old man, an alchemist, who took Alinor on as an apprentice during his year of exile. Peter the Hermit was as much a magician as the Mad Arab. Both had their little boxes of bad ju-ju. Albert was the young son of a knight who joined the Crusade.

Robert Weil is the loser private investigator. Janet Travis was the young girl Alinor fell in love with 150 years ago.

SERRA is the South Easter Road Racing Association. Alfar and Sidhe are other terms for elf.

The Cover and Title

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 Wheels of Fire.