Authors: Andre Norton & Mercedes Lackey
Series: Halfblood Chronicles #1
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Overview: 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.
The first half of this book is a perfect case study in how “telling” versus “showing” can be wildly entertaining. The authors took a lot of time to build this world and explain the dynamics between the races within it, and I found myself devouring the pages, eager to learn as much as I could. It was such a cool concept for a story – all-powerful elves who came to the world from another realm and basically took over, forcing the humans to cater to their every whim. Enter the shape-shifting dragons, also fleeing another world, who were trying to keep their existence secret from the elves but couldn’t resist dabbling in their affairs. Then put a halfbreed girl in the middle of all of this, and I’m on board.
It was unique, to say the least, and the best part was the spin on traditional race roles within fantasy novels. Not to mention the abundance of dragons! Sure, they behaved more like humans than dragons, but there was enough dragon lore involved that I didn’t mind it. Watching a small girl grow up among them was easily my favorite segment of the entire novel. It really is a shame it only lasted a couple of chapters…
The thing that knocked this book off of its five-star rating for me is that I got about 80% through it, then had to stop and figure out what the arc of the story was supposed to be. You see, the authors took a couple of weird tangents – ones I enjoyed reading, but I couldn’t figure out how they advance the plot or developed character. Now, I love tangents as much is the next girl, but to have them loaded near the end of the book? And to have them be so jarring? I kept thinking maybe I had missed something only to flip back a page and realize: nope… It really did just take a left turn. Had it been any other time during the novel, it would’ve been okay, but in this case it pulled me out of it when I felt I should’ve been the most engaged. I’m betting it had something to do with the difficulties of coordinating a book between two authors. This is the only time I’ve noticed a definite discord within a dual-authorship involving Mercedes Lackey, so it was probably a fluke.
Overall, I liked Elvenbane because I’ve never read anything quite like it. It had so many great ideas that, despite trouble with pacing near the end, I will be picking up the sequel. If you already read a ton of fantasy/dragon books, I’d recommend this one. However, if you’re new to the genre I’d have you read some of my favorites first.
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