Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I chose to read Elfshadow, the second in a long "open-universe" series about the secret organization for good known as "The Harpers" in the "Forgotten Realms" fantasy setting, because I was looking for a good old fashioned, easy-to-read, but not dumbed down fantasy novel. This one really fit the bill and I'm pleased to say it's been one of my favorite reads of the year so far.  It is also noteworthy that this book is not just a part of the Harpers series but is also the first book in a stand-alone trilogy called, "Songs and Swords."  Methinks the three books' popularity as Harper's books spawned a re-publish as the trilogy.

These books were published almost 20 years ago, back in the big TSR days of tie-in novels to the D&D game system. These sorts of books launched the careers of several well-known fantasy authors today, including RA Salvatore, Troy Denning, and Elaine Cunningham, the author of this book. The story surrounds Arilyn Moonblade, a half-elf "assassin" who works as a Harper agent. She is suspected of assassinating several members of the Harper association, mostly because of her proximity to all of their murders. She is accompanied by a fledgling-wizard and bard named Danilo Thann who plays the part of a dandy but in reality is an accomplished mage and is trying to determine Arilyn's guilt or innocence. What follows is largely a mystery story interspersed with dangerous moments and good action sequences. There are lots of characters introduced as the pair makes their journey in and around Waterdeep, but you don't have to be a "Forgotten Realms" aficionado to understand what's going on. And if you’ve ever played the computer game, “Baldur’s Gate”, you’ll really appreciate the area. The plot is pretty well thought out and definitely kept my attention. It's really hard to believe that this is the author's first novel. She has acknowledged mistakes with it but I can't point to any myself and she has gone on to write a couple of sequels. I will definitely read them because I really like these characters.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire