Book Review: Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon’s Chrome Circle

Posted January 3, 2015 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 & Larry Dixon’s Chrome Circle

Chrome Circle


Larry Dixon, Mercedes Lackey

It is part of the , Elves on the Edge series and is a urban fantasy that was published by Baen Books on 1994 and has 362 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Owlknight, Born to Run, Unnatural Issue, "The River's Gift", Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar, Foundation, Intrigues, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, 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, Wheels of Fire, When the Bough Breaks, 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

Fourth in the SERRAted Edge urban fantasy series and revolving around elves, sportscar racing, and humans. The focus is back on Tannim and going home to the farm in Oklahoma.

You really must read these in order; it’s much too confusing otherwise.

My Take

This one brings back characters from the other three stories, so it’s nice to “catch-up” a bit.

It made me laugh when the authors pulled in a mention of Diana Tregarde from Lackey’s Diana Tregarde. I keep thinking about that series; I must go back and find more.

It’s also cute how Lackey/Dixon present Tannim’s reminiscences of how he came to magic. They made it seem quite believable. They also make magic sound like a believable science. Lol, that bit about Tannim not being able to cure his own allergies certainly brought things down to earth! It was also believable the tale the authors spun of why the Unseleighe don’t come to the real world much anymore, lol. Well, except for those who have learned to deal with the new possibilities offered.

Nice bit of catch-up on what happened to Joe, Jamie, and Cindy from Wheels of Fire, 2. I love the emphasis Lackey/Dixon put on getting that high school diploma as well as Frank’s genuine concerns for Joe. That tidbit about his reception in high school, well, it simply echoes what real life is in society with people afraid of what they don’t understand.

“That’s the beauty of Fairgrove. You’re supposed to be yourself, and no one else.”

That homecoming of Tannim’s when he drives to Oklahoma to pick up Joe makes you understand better why he goes home so little, all physical shortcomings aside, but I have a hard time understanding Tannim’s anger over Keighvin’s helping his parents. The reality of this encounter helped make this story feel very real. And then Tannim adds in that bit about Joe being a hit with the ladies at Fairgrove and how it’ll take some of the pressure off him, lol.

Thank god the bad guys adhere to some rules anyway. I did love how Tannim thought his way through the meanings behind the artistic manner in which SharMali laid down that challenge. The dissection of it along with the myriad possible reasons for it.

“Sometimes it’s really frustrating to be the bad guy, you know? The bad guys never have to think of things like this.”

Lackey/Dixon bring in bits and pieces of our world’s elf lore.

A sad bit in here that both men and women should pay heed to, that of paying attention to a significant other. Chinthliss certainly found this out the hard way.

Whew, SharMali is playing both ends against the middle, and it’s fascinating to “watch”. A bit hair-raising in some places. SharMali has learned a lot in her young life, and she learns even more now that she’s become entangled with Tannim. It’s Tannim’s strategies to prevent the psychic interrogation that will have you laughing.

It’s a run of encounters and escapes. It’s also a reminder that bad things happen on both sides of the planes. Joe’s past with his nutjob father as well as SharMali’s experiences with her father and then the Unseleighe with both of them learning many truths.

It’s not that well-written, not what I’ve come to expect from Lackey, but the message is what gives this a star up.

The Story

It’s a careful dance of reveal and conceal as Alinor and Bob get a feel for Joe’s possibilities as a SERRA mechanic. He’ll certainly need more magick training. Training he will get when the mysterious girl who’s haunted Tannim’s dreams for years lays down a challenge on Tannim.

It’s a conundrum. So much depends on the why, the reason for the challenge. Is it aimed at Tannim or at Keighvin? And how will SharMali balance the scales and salvage her reputation with the kitsune clan?

The Characters

Tannim is a human mage employed as a driver, P.R., mechanic, and troubleshooter for Fairgrove Industries. “Charlie” Tannim is code at Fairgrove. Trevor Drake and his mother are his parents who run a quarter-horse ranch. Chinthliss is a dragon and has been Tannim’s mentor for a long time; he’s the one who gave Tannim his name.

Young Joe has just graduated from high school with a real diploma, and he’s doing well at pushing back the memories of life from Wheels of Fire and learning to deal with his own telepathic powers as an upcoming wizard. Seems he also has a knack with engines. Pawnee County Deputy Sheriff Frank Casey had taken Joe in as a foster son.

Fairgrove Industries is…
…has three racing teams, one each for GTP, SERRA, and SCCA. 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 too. Andur is his elvensteed; Nineve is Andur’s twin. He and Bob Ferrel, a human and a mechanical genius, have been helping Joe learn the basics. Lord Sir Keighvin Silverhair is the boss of Fairgrove and ruler of Elfhame Fairgrove. Sarge Phil Austin will be Joe’s mentor. Dottie. Conal is another mechanic with some points about the challenge. Lidam is a Healer.

Foxtrot Xray (his real name is Saski Berith) is a kitsune-spirit who befriended Joe and Tannim at different times.

SharMali Halanyn is half-kitsune and half-dragon, trained by her father, Charcoal, to be Tannim’s rival. She too has dreamt of Tannim, erotic dreams. Adrift from her parents, she lives in a pocket of Chaos with her Cold Iron car as protection and is in too deep with the Unseleighe. She uses little air elementals as spies; her favorite is Azure. The Honorable Lady Ako is a nine-tailed kitsune, a healer, magician, and bearer of some of the most noble blood in or out of Underhill as well as SharMali’s mother.

The Unseleighe and other bad guys
Madoc Skean is the chief of SharMali’s “allies”, a Lord of Underhill, a Magus Major, and a traitorous, sadistic, chauvinistic, selfish braggart who was exiled from the Seleighe Court by Oberon himself. Charcoal, a gray dragon, is SharMali’s father, Chinthliss’ enemy, and determined to kill Tannim. Thomas is a bronze dragon and Chinthliss’ older half-brother who has been keeping an eye on him. The Katschei was a Russian creature: half-monster and half-mage. He’s dead now, and his realm is empty, save for that sneak kidnapping of Tannim’s Mustang. The elves in the Hall of the Mountain King cut themselves off from humanity 1,500 years ago. Tom Cadge came looking for treasure, and lost his eyes as well as his Nancy. Now he’s doomed to forever clean.

Furhold is…
…like a Mexican border bar, but a rich neutral place Underhill.

Deke Kestrel is working in Austin as a studio musician while honing his own more “esoteric” skills and one of Tannim’s few friends from high school; he gets a mention as does Ross Canfield, the ghost from Born to Run. Granny’s Diner (Granny’s Kitchen in Wheels of Fire) also pops in for an appearance.

SCCA is the Sports Car Club of America. SERRA is the South Eastern Road Racing Association.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a bit psychedelic in its purples, pinks, and blues with that Gate opening through the Chrome Circle that will swallow up Tannim’s beloved deep red Mustang. It’s his dream girl posed on the Mustang’s hood. The title follows the previous three book covers with its fast-looking “Circle” slanting forward with the wind racing across it. The title and series information is black on a white background and white on a black background with both backgrounds looking like the decals found on the sides of race cars. The authors’ names are in yellow.

The title is the key, the Chrome Circle that will bring them back to our own world.