Smashing Saturday Shorts (5)

Setting Boundaries, by Valerie Douglas

Summary: After centuries of war an uneasy peace has finally been negotiated between Elves, Dwarves and Men, thanks to Elon of Aerilann, Elven councilor to the High King of Men. One final task yet remains, one final bone of contention – to set the boundaries between their lands. It’s a task that will be easier said than done. Although most of the lesser Kings signed the Alliance, not all wish to see it succeed, and some are willing to oppose it. Violently.
For young journeyman wizard Jareth it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. Unlike many he’s long admired the calm, seemingly aloof Elves, especially Elon of Aerilann and his paxman Colath.
What he doesn’t know is that the journey will test him to his limits, forge a friendship that will last for centuries, and change the Kingdoms forever.

Thoughts: It’s obvious pretty early on that the author loves to wax eloquent about elves. Their form, their grace, their beauty, all get pages devoted to descriptions. On one hand, good eye for detail, and it’s somewhat in character as the protagonist has something of an interest in elves. On the other hand, it gets a little old when you spend 3 pages reading about how tall and pretty and perfect an elf is.

It even paints elves as a kind of martyr race at times, saying that the peace negotiations were good things because it ensured that elves would no longer be persecuted when men tried to push across their borders. It includes dwarves in that part of the narrative, too, as being a victim of men’s greed, and while I can’t deny that humans are, as a whole, somewhat of a greedy race, the exclusion of any faults of other races is a bit annoying. Nobody’s perfect. Groups of people even less so.

And the human High King? Doesn’t like that some little street-kid-turned-wizard gets to be the human representative to the elves. The wizard, of course, loves the elven philosophy of life. It’s another case of elves can do no wrong, and humans can do nothing but.

However, there is some real talent here, and aside from a few redundant phrases here and there that made me raise an eyebrow and threw me out of the flow for a moment, I really enjoyed reading this one. The author sets up a world that’s very typical of fantasy, but in that was it feels comfortable, like a favourite chair, rather than just a copy of so many other things that came before. And in spite of the what I said before, sometimes the protagonist’s adoration of elves is quite amusing, making me smile at how overwhelmed they can make him.

This is a fantasy worth checking out, as I believe it would be worth looking at other things the author has done. I enjoyed this one quite a bit — it had its faults, but what piece of writing doesn’t? I do believe I’ve found a new author worth watching.

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