The Logic of Fire, Summary



Principal Characters

Stretch Waite: The protagonist, at first a martial arts instructor and a bouncer in a biker bar in Malibu

Lacy Waite: His father, at first a fireman and rodeo cowboy. He appears throughout the story in various guises

Katrina: The owner of a farm where Stretch is transported, later his lover

Gebrelis: One of his captors who becomes Stretch's friend

Ragnas: A wise woman, companion to Katrina

Pingas: Katrina's uncle who tries to exploit her

Sunkai: A brutal overseer employed by Pingas

Shuo: A farm woman victimized by Sunkai, briefly Stretch's lover

The Duchess: A patroness of Katrina and buyer of her farm's surplus



Chapter Summary

Chapter I Transition (5900 words)

Stretch is beginning a scuba dive in Malibu when he finds himself lying naked in a cold forest. He is disoriented. After wandering in the forest for a few hours he is captured by men armed with spears, who bind him and lock him in a small building, which seems to be on a farm in cold, rainy country. The technology is primitive and the people don't understand English.

Chapter II: A Potential Killer (6500 words)

Flashback to his job as a bouncer in a biker bar. Flash further back to his childhood in Bakersfield, his mother, a large, immovable woman, his father an unreliable rodeo cowboy largely absent, to his growing up angry, too angry to stay on the football team despite talent. He joins a biker gang, is arrested and put on probation. He seriously injures his probation officer in a fight and is ordered by a judge to go to jail or join the military. He joins the Marines.

Chapter III Far Traveling (7500 words)

Continued flashback. Stretch can't accept the discipline in the Marines, gets in fights, is thrown in the brig, attacks a guard. He is sent to Japan for dishonorable discharge. Someone suggests he study a Japanese martial discipline, but the teacher refuses him. He goes AWOL, works for a while in the country for a charcoal burner, then for a butcher. When his attempt at suicide misfires he returns to the martial arts master who accepts him.

Chapter IV: Getting Control (2400 words)

Continued flashback. From the martial arts discipline Stretch learns to control his anger and learns to deal with conflict. He believes because of that he has gained control of his life. He returns to the United States with the mission of teaching his discipline, but really somewhat adrift.

Chapter V: In The Shed (3000 words)

His imprisonment continues. He can't understand where he is or what is happening. He frees himself from his bonds, opens the door of the small building, but decides not to escape into the unknown world.

Chapter: VI Trying to Communicate (5400 words)

A leader of the strangers fires an arrow at him, which bursts into flame. The people give Stretch some clothes, hobble him, and set him to work on the surrounding farm. Technology is primitive and attempts to communicate beyond simple gestures fail. Stretch begins to wonder how he can ever reach the civilized world.

Chapter VII: The Black Monk (8500 words)

Over a couple of weeks he learns about the farm, a few words of the language, and the names of a few of the people. They take him to a small village where he sees a sort of Punch and Judy show and a group of travelers appears which include a monk. He tries to get the monk's attention, but his captors prevent it. During the night his captors cut his bonds and engage his strength in kidnapping the monk. They kill the monk ceremonially and desecrate his corpse. Stretch finds a date in the monk's things; it is 1202 AD.

Chapter VIII: Touching (5300 words)

He continues to work on the farm and learn more that does not really explain what's happened. Several children die of a sickness. He begins a love affair with one of the farm women, loses his temper, fights the bullying overseer, and drives him from the farm.

Chapter IX: Following Signs (11,000 words)

They let him work unfettered now. He is slowly learning more. The group goes into the village, where he sees a striking woman being led as a captive. He falls in love with her on the spot. When they get back to the farm it appears that she, Katrina, is the owner, although strangers guard her and an older man seems to have power over her. She takes an interest in him and tries to teach him more of her language and to learn about him. They meet in the forest where she tells him she wants him to kill someone, but it is not clear whom, and they make love. He participates in a bear hunt.

Chapter X: Four Stories (9500 words)

Gebrelis tells a folk tale about a Prince who rescues the daughter of the Sun Goddess from the Moon God. Ragnas tells the story of when the Fire God stole the Bird Goddess's egg. Stretch tries to tell them the story of his life as best he can. Katrina tells Stretch the story of her life. Her parents, the owners of the farm, were killed by pillagers when she was a child. She came under the control of an uncle who exploited her and the farm. She grew up partly there and partly in a city at the house of a duchess who buys the farm's products for resale. The uncle forced her to marry a mysterious stranger who deserted her and left a letter behind, which Stretch asks to see. It is in English, signed by himself, in his handwriting and tells him to go to the city for an appointment on a date in the Fall some months hence.

Chapter XI: The Apple Orchard (10,000 words)

Stretch tries to understand his position, what does it mean to be in the past? He learns more about the society he is in, learns to ride, buys a horse. Gebrelis, who has grown to be Stretch's friend, asks to go with him to his meeting in the city.

Chapter XII Through the Forest (8200 words)

Stretch, Gebrelis, Katrina and Ragnas travel to the City. Gebrelis tells a folk tale about a prince who wins a kingdom. A mysterious stranger asks Stretch to catch a bird, and then disappears. They reach the city and go to the relatively luxurious house of the duchess.

Chapter XIII: The Performer (9900 words)

Stretch goes to his appointment at the inn yard. A hypnotist works the crowd, dominating them by his tricks and his will. The foreman Stretch fought and his former lover from the farm are present. Finally the performer addresses Stretch, befuddles him, and convinces him that he is Katrina. He then reveals that he is his father; it was he who left the note. He tells Stretch that a woman by the sea shore has stolen a talisman from him that enables him to change into an animal. He has hidden Katrina and promises to return her when Stretch fetches the talisman for him.

Chapter XIV: To the Shore (9000 words)

Stretch and Gebrelis leave for the shore. They evade an agent of the Duchess who is tracking them and they stop to visit Gebrelis' father, a doddering former warrior. During the ride Stretch thinks through that his father is Katrina's former husband and has been intervening in his life along. He is upset, but concentrates on the immediate goal.

Chapter XV: The Bag (2800 words)

Stretch wrestles the bird woman, retrieves the talisman, but Gebrelis, spying on the fight, is killed.

Chapter XVI: Return (6900 words)

Stretch feels bound to return Gebrelis body to the farm, which he does with difficulty. He is reunited with Katrina. There is a funeral. His father comes to collect the talisman and return Stretch to Malibu, but Stretch declares his life is at the farm now and forces his father to let him stay.