Elfshadow (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #2) ★★★☆ ½

elfshadow (Custom)

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Title: Elfshadow
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #2
Author: Elaine Cunningham
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 324
Format: Digital Edition



Arilyn Moonblade, poor little half human and moon elf, is taken under wing by a gold elf who teaches her how to be the ultimate fighter. With her magical moonblade, she becomes an associate of the Harper organization to do the deeds they don’t want to sully their hands with.

When Arilyn’s acquaintances begin to die, all Harpers and all marked by a Harper symbol, she sets out to find the killer before the killer finds her. Unbeknownst to her however, her moonblade is a portal to the hidden elven realm of Evermeet and that is the true goal of the assassin.

She encounters Danilo Thann, foppish nobleman, amateur bard and in secret, the protege of Blackstaff Arunsen, major wizard in the city of Waterdeep. Danilo has been tasked with protecting Arilyn and her moonblade without revealing his true identity.

Lots of fights, flights and betrayals occur before the showdown where Arilyn learns about her family, who her secret adversary is and Danilo’s true identity. Sometimes belonging to a secret organization isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.


My Thoughts:

So much better than the first Harper book. The story was predictable as the sun and you know who the real badguy is by the halfway mark (at least, I did) but the interaction between Danilo and Arilyn was perfect. While Arilyn was the main character, Danilo was one of those sidecharacters who almost steals the show. He has to pretend to be a stupid fop even while being on guard against assassins both mundane and magical. The fact that he carries it off just made it all the better.

One problem I had, which is all me, is that I came across people and places whose names I recognized from other Forgotten Realms books but I couldn’t remember a lot of detail. It doesn’t help that I’m reading the overall Forgotten Realms books out of order. Evereska, city of Elves is mentioned as is Blackstaff Arunsen and both of those played a large part in the Return of the Archwizards trilogy.

After Denning’s writing style in the first book (I don’t like Denning and I’ll probably never stop mentioning that, fyi), Cunningham’s straightforward approach was refreshing. She can write well and while this setting doesn’t allow for spectacular writing, I was pretty pleased with how she handled everything.

The story about Arilyn’s moonblade, it’s magical history, her family drama, etc, were all ok but really, I only liked the fighting bits. And as for the Elfshadow, that was so blatantly obvious that I don’t even feel the need to comment on it beyond this.

On a kind of silly note, the cover just about makes me gag. Danilo looks like he’s about to turn into a fat merchant in about 2 years while Arilyn looks like an angry hobbit with pointy ears. I also found out that the adventures of Arilyn and Danilo are not only part of the Harpers series but eventually split off to become their own little thing called Swords and Songs. I don’t know if I’ll pursue that at some point or not.

★★★☆ ½



  1. The Parched Sea (Book 1)


7 thoughts on “Elfshadow (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #2) ★★★☆ ½

    1. Yep. Sometimes I get a kick out of looking at just how bad some of the old FR covers are. Putting aside style [which obviously changes with time], the cover artists seem to be at the same level as the authors in regards to skill most of the time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The recent trend for photorealistic covers (ie. those that use poorly manipulated photos of some model or another dressed up as he protagonist) is probably the worst thing about modern Fantasy cover art. Especially if it’s a hooded assassin or leather-clad warrior woman. There’s gaudy, unrepentantly geeky, and then there’s just plain trashy. I guess taking a few snaps and throwing something together in Photoshop may be cheaper than commissioning decent art though…?
        I still hold that the covers of China Mieville’s first two Bas Lags novels (http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/m/china-mieville/perdido-street-station.htm and http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/m/china-mieville/scar.htm ) are the epitome of what a good Fantasy book cover should look like, even though they came out around a decade ago. They evoke the setting without the presence of cheesy sword-swingers or cod-archaic typefaces.
        My favourite ludicrous pulp paperback cover has to be this little-known gem by Paul Van Herck btw, for its title and sheer sense of “WTF is going on here?!” http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/books/n/n18016.htm
        I’m also very fond of the first edition covers for Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time novels such as An Alien Heat (http://www.multiverse.org/wiki/index.php?title=An_Alien_Heat) as they’re a reminder that once Sci-Fi & Fantasy (like the author himself) were actually quite rock&roll, with all sorts of avante garde and counterculture connotations, and deemed worthy of reasonably sophisticated and ornate covers rather than (especially in Fantasy’s case) being literary pariahs.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ok, so I added a layer of comment control on. Anything with more than 2 links has to be moderated by me. Of course, you’re the first person to trip that 😀

          And the last 2 links didn’t work for me. But those two Mievelle’s were really good. I can see why you like them.

          I think the hooded assassin look is overdone. It had it’s place but it got on a couple of popular books [I first really remember it on Brent Weeks’ Night Angel books] and then suddenly, every cover had one. Whether there was that type of character in the book or not.
          I’m ok with the tight leather pants on hot chicks look though. Mainly because I don’t read those kind of fantasy books, so glancing over them is eye candy and then I forget about them.

          Liked by 2 people

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