by Elaine Cunningham
(fantasy, Forgotten Realms)
This book is one that I first read when it was new and I was in High School. At the time, High Fantasy was my chief book type, and this one – featuring a charming bard and a shy half-elven maiden – was everything I wanted out of a book. Truth be told, it was everything I wanted out of life.
Anyway, I mention all of that because it’s always interesting to me to see what different things I take out of a book when I re-read it. ELFSHADOW is a book that I’ve re-read many times, but this was the first time that I really paid attention to how different my outlook was on it than when I first read it. I found myself critiquing the writing style more, instead of getting lost in the fantasy world. I found myself laughing at what the girl-I-was wanted out of life. I still enjoyed the book, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of why I enjoyed it was nostalgia instead of for the book’s own merits.
And the book does have merits. It is well crafted, even if parts of it do show signs of the era in which it was written. The characters are well formed, and the pacing is good. Even with how many times I’ve read it before, I didn’t get bored reading it again.
So, would I recommend it? Yes, for the style of book. For someone expecting a modern edgy novel, this is not that. This is not really YA (since the heroes are not young adults), nor is it romance. It is not the distopian novel that is currently in favor. What it is, though, is a fun fantasy romp, with magic and betrayal. I especially recommend it for fans of the Forgotten Realms universe who haven’t already read it. In my opinion, Arilyn Moonblade and Danillo Than are two of the best characters in that universe. They are certainly the two I keep coming back to the most often, and I’ve read – I think – all of the novels and short stories in which they feature.