One of my favorite things about used book stores is the availability of older books to find that may not be available so readily on the shelves of our favorite big box store. One of these books I found was The Elvenbane by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey. I remember stealing this book from a friend in highschool and am very happy to have rediscovered it as a bit of a more mature reader. Shall we see what these two favored authors of mine came up with? As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Story - The book gives us an epic story spanning time and space, individual and groups, small places and world wide stories. This story is complex, yet interesting. It combines the individual stories apace with the wider scope that affects everybody. It is interesting and varied and gives the reader a reason to continue to turn the page. There were so many threads and subplots that one never got bored with any one storyline, and yet the authors managed to keep the story as a whole completely coherent.
Characters - I absolutely loved the huge variety of characters in this book. Each of the characters that got page time were unique and multi-faceted. We get to see people from every race, class and walk of life. This not only gives us some extra world building cred, but makes me feel like this is a real place with real people. I love it when a character, especially the main ones have strengths and weaknesses and individual likes and dislikes, it gives a ring of authenticity and makes me root for them. I also like it when their is more to the "bad guys" then them being flat out bad. There is just so much to love when it comes to the characters in this book, it makes me so happy!
Editing - Two separate authors worked on this book and (this is a compliment) you can't tell. The book flows smoothly and there is no sign of a struggle between the two authors. The only real complaint I would have is that sometimes I felt that the book got over explanatory. Overall though the editing was an assets to the book and we will see if this continues through out the series.
Two Authors - Speaking of the two authors...I have read and enjoyed both Norton's and Lackey's works (as my rambling list can attest to). I felt like both authors were very well represented in this book. I could easily find Norton's signature sci fi/fantasy mix. The premise that the Kin and the Elves both came from other worlds through either magical or scientific means to shape the world our story is set in is very much in the vein of our lady Norton. Lackey's in depth characters and complex plot...and overexplenation is also very much evident. I think the combination of these two ladies of epicness is pretty awesome.
The Prophecy - In the book a re-occuring thread is the vague prophecy of the Elvenbane...which the book is named for. We learn that the Kin have been spreading the rumor of the prophecy both uchto bolster the humans and to discourage the elves. When Shana appears and begins to lead the non elves in rebellion it seems the prophecy may actually be true. The part I like best about this book is the debate about whether Shana is actually the fulfillment of the prophecy or if she is the embodiment of a self fullfilling prophecy or if the only reason people even think of her as the Elvenbane is because of the efforts of the Kin. This type of thinking and discussion always makes me happy because it gives so much thought to the difference between magic, religion, human thinking, science and practicality. I don't know, I just like it.
Various Factions - I think the think that held my interest the most in this book was that there was no good vs evil. Instead we were introduced to three (well four if you count the halfbreeds) very different races. Within each of these races were groups and individuals with their own agendas. This leads to so much mass chaos that you totally understand why the real world is so messed up. It was great to see that just because you were a human or an elf or a dragon that the you did not necessarily think the same as the rest of your race. This added so many layers and possible combinations of individuals and plans that you felt that almost anything was realistically possible. This made a fantasy book about humans, dragons and elves into an epic examination of motivation and environment.
Overall Impression - Overall I really enjoyed this book, it was complex and interesting. I stopped several times to consider various ideas that the book brought up. For a supposed "fantasy" novel I feel that this book brings up a lot of very in depth and layered things to piece together. I found it engaging, entertaining, page turning and overall worthy of picking up and finishing the series. I give it 8 out of 10 beryls and now need to scour the bookstore for the next book in the series. Happy Reading Everybody!