Halfblood Chronicles Part II
Written by Adrienne Roehrich, Manager of Editorial Services
Possible spoilers for Elvenbane, Elvenblood, and Elvenborn.
Of course, after finishing Elvenbane (Read my review of Elvenbane here), I dove right into the next novel in the chronicles, Elvenblood.
As is typical of much of the fantasy genre, one issue with Elvenbane is the lack of diversity in the humans presented. While Mercedes Lackey is known for books with homosexual and bisexual characters all the Elvenblood pairings appear to be heterosexual, and it continues through Elvenborn. Everyone also pairs up with people within their own identity: humans with humans, elves with elves, dragon with dragon, and Wizard with Wizard, with one notable exception. Everyone’s gender identity is that assigned to them at birth. And until Elvenblood, every Elf is fair (and stays that way) and every human is white.
In Elvenbane, we were introduced to a group of traders under the control of the elves that I thought were people of color, but in the end, I was left unsure. In Elvenblood, we are introduced to very dark skinned people. These are free folk, nomads who resisted the yolk of the elves and fled to the south when the Elves came. Elvenblood shows them moving back to the north to find grazing for their herds, searching for precious iron, and possible contact with long-ago allies. Unfortunately, the enigma of these people and their roots breaks me out of the story.
In Elvenbane, the location of Prince Dyran’s estate is given as being on the edge of the Mojave Desert. For those unfamiliar, the Mojave Desert is in the southwest U.S. – on the border between California and Nevada. We are led to believe that the elven estates are massive, taking up huge tracts of land and located very far part. But no mention of them reaching across the ocean is made. So it becomes a little confusing about how the elves have enslaved the human race, but not all the human race, and the elves do have borders to their land, but I also find it hard to believe that the humans on other continents would not intervene for hundreds of years to find out what is going on on another continent.
I struggled with the geography of this series through the entirety of it. I believe the forest on the edge of Lord Cheynar’s estate are those of the Pacific Northwest that qualify as temperate rainforests due to all the rain described in the books. The lack of description of bodies of water makes this a little hard to swallow, but is the best I can determine.
In Elvenbane, it is mentioned that the elves wiped out all remnants of human civilization so it is impossible to know when the elves came through from their world to this one. It could have been Biblical times, medieval times, or current times. However, the division of racial diversity implies a time when we believed races were more divided geographically. That time precedes white men settling North America, so having exclusively white slaves near the the Mojave Desert seems unlikely.
The people of color also fall into the typical fantasy treatment of being tribesmen. I looked for a critique of the treatment of people of color in the Halfblood chronicles, but I found none. If someone knows of one, please comment. Or, if someone would like to write one, I’ll send you the three books in exchange for your guest post (following our guidelines) here on GeekGirlCon. (Email adrienne at geekgirlcon dot com.)
Book 2, Elvenblood, was a little slower to get through and took nearly a month. Actually, it took me several weeks to read the first 100 pages and then I raced through the remaining 250. The book is shorter than Elvenbane at about 350 pages compared to 566. Elvenblood is also challenging because it starts out with a new set of characters. By the end of Elvenbane, we have a reasonably sized cast of characters, and one dives into Elvenblood to read more about them. However, we re-meet Sheyrena, her mother, and Myre, and are introduced to Sheyrena’s brother Lorryn. It takes 61 pages in the mass market paperback pass before we even get back to Lashana. I have a 60-page rule: if a book is not sufficiently engaging in the first 60 pages, I don’t force myself to finish it. Sadly, Elevenblood barely makes it through my rule. The story presented in those first 60 pages does not fully engage me, but your mileage may vary. In Elvenbane, the plight of Wizards and humans is sufficiently focused that starting out book 2 with the story of a fullblood Elf, her mother and father, and her halfblood brother, along with the distasteful Myre, is rather off-putting. And I didn’t find the story being presented as attention-grabbing as the beginning of Elvenbane. I persisted because I had enjoyed Elvenbane so much and Elvenblood was beginning to show its potential.
Like Elvenblood, Elvenborn deviates from our main cast of characters at the beginning, introducing us to another elven family – one that has human servants and not slaves (but I’m really not sure how much different this is because it isn’t well described.) We stay with this family for 145 pages of the 382-page hardcover edition of the third book in the series..
While Elvenblood had a brother and sister who shared the limelight, Elvenborn disappoints because it has a male main character. Why did Elvenborn have a male main character after effectively using female main characters previously in the series? These authors both had often written female main characters in other series, so this switch feels wrong to me.
In Elvenbane, the characters get fairly well developed. The characters introduced in Elvenblood are not as well developed and those who continue on from Elvenbane do not get much more development. In Elvenborn, the main character, Kyrtian, gets a lot of character development. However, Lorryn, one of the main characters from Elvenbane, almost gets typical female treatment, seemingly having been introduced only to become the romantic interest for Shana, the original lead. I don’t actually have a problem with this, although I prefer to have good character development for as many characters as possible in books I read.
Like Elvenbane, in Elvenblood the quest and character development are the majority of the story. The conflict comes late in the novel and is short; the denouement basically leaving you hanging and ready for the next novel. Elvenborn differs only in that the main conflict is resolved with little conflict, but rather with political maneuvering fairly early in the book. This smoothly transitions the book to what appears to be the focus for the next books in the chronicles.
I like all the mystery and potential theories this could go to. This is why a fourth book was so eagerly awaited and fans of the series were hoping for it. We have the inevitable human slave rebellion on earth, the enigma of the magic-sucking constructs that kill, the fleeing Elves that didn’t make it (I have a theory about the Elves and those contraptions that is not the conclusion drawn by the story’s occupants), Triana’s potential storyline, and the thing that came through the Portal from Evelon and took her. Is that thing what the Elvenlords of Evelon became after all this time? Is it something new? And, of course, the opening of the Portal from either side means there could be a war between Earth and Evelon later on in the chronicles.
Despite the issues I’ve described in these two reviews, I am again excited for any follow-up chronicles in this series.