The Elvenbane (Halfblood Chronicles, Bk. 1)
By Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey
Published 1991, Tor
Paperback, 566 pages
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 world that the writing team of Norton and Lackey crafts is quite fascinating in its detail and description. The timeline and history of this world seems to place it sort of after the end of our present world, as a kind of post-apocalypse in which first the dragons found and then the elves, with the latter taking over and enslaving the remaining humans. I found the passage of time to be bothersome at times, since the authors seem to almost skip over the climaxes in favor of just relaying the information through the memories of the characters after the fact. More than once, I wished the writers could have written out this passage of time so that I can actually experience it as it happens.
The characters were all well-developed and unique, as the size of the book allowed the writers to spend lots of time focusing on a single character, even if his or her purpose seemed to end rather abruptly with death, such as Shana's mother, Serina Daeth. Normally, I have no trouble picking characters that I favored over the others, but with this book, no character seemed to jump out at me as so much better than the others, even the main character Shana, who seemed to lack in maturity as much as a pre-teen, with how she behaves around some of the other characters.
There were several over-arching themes in the book, such as the need for change, the call for justice, and how every rule has exceptions. Shana especially seemed to find the latter annoying as she continually found that what she was taught about elves, humans, or dragons was not always true. Even though the legend of the Elvenbane is merely a tall tale crafted by the dragons to stir up trouble with the elves and humans, Shana falls into the role by accident simply because of a dragon's kindness. Ironically, her up-bringing gives her the perfect personality for playing that role, as the main goal of this book was to put her in the perfect position to fill this role for the next book in the series, Elvenblood (Halfblood Chronicles).
The Cover: The cover shows Shana, wearing her dragon-skin clothing, with the dragon Keman and a desert background. Since Shana assumes the role of the Elvenbane that the Dragons liked to spread among the elves and humans, it certainly fits to have her on the cover.
First Line: "Serina Daeth. I am -- Serina Daeth. Serina clung to her name as the only thing she was still certain of, the only thing the sun could not burn away from her."
Favorite Quote: "Not an outcast; a forerunner. That's not so bad a thing to be."
Read For: Pages Read Challenge, Twenty-Ten Challenge, Speculative Fiction Challenge