This book has been in my ‘’backup’’ folder for almost ten months now. I read it around last Spring, but thought to myself it might make a good book review for December. My logic was that books with Christmas themes are hard to come by, so given that this one is about elves, I figured I would keep it on standby unless something better presented itself. Since that was not the case, it made the cut for December after all. So here is my review of the Elvenbane by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton.
I originally read the Elvenbane back in high school, as part of my second language class. I had found it really well written, and remember feeling some sort of attachment to the main character, Shana. Her struggle to find her place in a world that did not understand her struck a cord back when I was a teenager. Having forgot many of the details since having read it last time, I was happy to rediscover it again.
Another quick note of interest about this book for me was its author, Mercedes Lackey. A few years ago, Mrs. Lackey was part of the movement to save City of Heroes, a Massively Multiplayer Online game which allowed its fan base to customize and play their own super heroic creations. Not only did I have fun playing this game for years, but its closure is what sparked the creation of Missing Worlds Media, the video gaming company I currently volunteer for. This fact is what prompted me to read this book again.
The story takes place in a world dominated by elven lords, while the majority of the human race has been reduced to slavery. There is also a race of sentient dragons, who prefer to stay hidden from the rest of the world. Through this setting, the story focuses on the life of Shana, an elf/human half blood who was raised by dragons. The narrative has a heavy political focus, as we see the many different aspects of the elven society. This is important, as Shana fits the prophecy of the half blood who will take down the elves, and restore mankind to his rightful place in the world.
The Halfblood Chronicles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Halfblood_Chronicles#The_Elvenbane
Back of the book
Two masters of epic fantasy have combined in this brilliant collaboration to create a rousing tale of the sort that becomes an instant favorite. This is the story of Shana, a halfbreed born of the forbidden union of an Elvenlord father and a human mother. Her exiled mother dead, she was rescued and raised by dragons, a proud, ancient race who existed unbeknownst to elven or humankind. From birth, Shana was the embodiment of the Prophecy that the all-powerful Elvenlords feared. Her destiny is the enthralling adventure of a lifetime.
When Serina Daeth, favorite concubine of the Elf-Lord Dyran, conceives a half-blood child by him, she flees his wrath into the desert, where she quickly succumbs. But the child, born in Serina's dying moments, is rescued by a friendly dragon and raised with her own draconic brood. As the child Shana grows, she develops prodigious sorcerous powers--so strong that it seems she might be the fabled Elvenbane, powerful enough to free the enslaved humans from their elven oppressors. The dragons come to fear her unplumbed power, though, and cast her out. With a renegade elf-lord and his half-blood servant, and the aid of her remaining dragon friends, Shana prepares to challenge the elfish supremacy.
What I learned:
- Politics: A decent portion of the book focuses on describing the elven society. The authors have done some pretty detailed work, explaining they hierarchy of both the elves and humans, and how they rank affects their standing in society. They also contrast the diplomatic elven ranks with the ones of the dragons, which seem more tribal in how they function. This book is a good example for anyone wanting to create a complex social structure.
- The Build up/Payout ratio: This book made me realise that if you build up to a confrontation, you need to deliver on the pay out. One example here is the confrontation between the brother and sister dragon (sorry forgot their names and I no longer have the book). Throughout the entire story, the two confront each other verbally, coming close to blows on a few occasions. When the two finally fight… the story cuts away and we are taken to narrative happening elsewhere, only to come back at the end of the fight to see that the antagonist wins. This is only my personal opinion, but I felt cheated by this result.
- Highlighting the action: This book places a heavy accent on the setting, which made some of the more dramatic character relationships and action scenes seem trivial. The action in certain parts of the story felt rushed and barely addressed, like the example in the previous point.
Andre Alice Norton (February 17, 1912 – March 17, 2005) was an American writer, whose work ranged from historical and contemporary fiction, to those of science fiction and fantasy. She wrote primarily under the pen name Andre Norton, but also under Andrew North and Allen Weston. She has received many awards, and was the first woman to be inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
Mercedes Ritchie Lackey (born June 24, 1950) is an American writer and has published over 140 books. She is deemed to be one of the most prolific science fiction and fantasy writers of all time. Her novels and trilogies are often interlinked, and focus on the complex tapestry of interaction between human and non-human protagonists, ranging from elves, mages, vampires, and other mythical beings. Lackey often explore issues of ecology, social class, and gender roles.
For those interested in learning more about these great authors, feel free to visit the following links.
- Andre Norton: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andre_Norton
- Mercedes Lackey: http://www.mercedeslackey.com/
In closing, I would like to my family, friends and readers for all the tremendous amount of encouragement you have shown me since the beginning this endeavour.
Until next time!