Fire in the Mist, By Holly Lisle

FireMist“Fire in the Mist” was published in 1992 by Baen and in 1993 was the winner of the Compton Crook Award, granted by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society for the best first novel of the year.

As I was wandering around the web, I stumbled across fantasy author Holly Lisle and her writer’s course called Thinking Sideways. The concept for the course seemed more unique than others I had seen and so, intrigued, I sat down and read through her website to get the full story.

Holly currently has more than 30 books in print. I always find it fascinating to see where authors began and as I read, I found Holly does indeed have an interesting story. Her first book, “Fire in the Mist”, was apparently born out of a difficult time in her life and was a result of an I-can-do-it-no-matter-what-they-say attitude. She admits to making mistakes along the way to becoming a published author, including quitting her job too soon to begin writing full-time, but she has had the determination and persistence to make it work nonetheless. Given her story of personal struggles and subsequent success, I wanted to read the first book Holly saw published in order to completely see the story behind this author’s beginnings.

The main character in “Fire in the Mist”, Faia, is a peasant girl who loses her entire village to plague, all except one lad. Faia was born with certain magical abilities, which she had never really focused on except as needed to help tend and protect her sheep. When she follows a premonition and leads her sheep down from the hills back to her village, Faia finds her mother dead and buried and most of her village lying dead in their beds, leaving Faia and the young lad no choice but to leave their home behind. Knowing there is no way just the two of them can bury everyone, Faia decides to burn the town with faeriefire, thus stopping the decay and plague while giving her friends and family the best burial she can. In her grief, however, she calls down more faeriefire than she intended or realized, enough to rob the magic from all other spells in the land. Needless to say, this greatly disturbs the other magicians and they set out to find and contain whoever was responsible for such a great and potentially harmful display of magic.

I hesitate to summarize any further and thus spoil the story for anyone who might want to read the book. I will say this, however, the magic system in “Fire in the Midst” is a nature-based combination of earth and air. Since the time the book was published in 1992, this type of magic system has become a tired convention from overuse, but I doubt that was the case when Holly wrote the book. Overall, I found the book solidly written and it kept me reading to the end.

You can read Chapter One of “Fire in the Mist” here:

…and you can download an entire free copy from Baen in a variety of formats here: (I chose a prc file and read the book on my Treo.) If you want to purchase a hardcopy, you can click on the book cover above.

Now I’m thinking it might be interesting to find one of Holly’s newer books and compare the two. (Ah, yes, that is my idea of fun, bookworm that I am.) Meanwhile, I’m willing to listen a bit more closely to what Holly has to say about writing fiction. She has earned my respect.

You can find Holly Lisle on the web at:

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