Thursday, November 1, 2012

Elfhome by Wen Spencer

Elfhome (Elfhome, #3)Science Fiction
Elfhome is another great journey in the world Wen Spencer has created.  This is the third book in the series and can be read as a standalone but I recommend reading Tinker and Wolf Who Rules first. 
Here is the Goodreads summary of Elfhome: 
Book Three of the Elfhome series, the follow-up to exciting Wolf Who Rules and the award-winning fantasy-SF novel that started it all, Tinker.Elfhome.  A world of powerful magic, beautiful elves, man-eating trees, frost-breathing wargs, and god-like dragons.  Pittsburgh.  A city that has been stranded deep in virgin elfin forest to stave off an invasion by the merciless oni.  Its population of sixty thousand humans and a handful of elves are pitted in war that will only end in genocide.  Winter is coming.  Supplies are running low.  All political ties are fraying.  Hidden somewhere in Pittsburgh's crumbling neighborhoods, a vanguard of oni are growing in number and attacking from the shadows. 

And children are disappearing.

Girl genius Tinker was once a human orphan, growing up on the Pittsburgh streets.  Now she's an elf princess with all the bells and whistles.  She rules over a melting pot of humans, elves, half-oni, and the crow-like tengu.  Prejudices are rampant, pitting even the elves against each other.  Hoverbike races, concerts of rock and roll fused with elf music, and artist communes of human and elves are proof that Pittsburgh can be a place where races and species can meet and meld in freedom. 

Tinker is determined to make her city a place of such freedom.  She's going to have to kick butt and take names.  And she has to do it quickly.  Seven elf children are already missing -- and the oni eat their prisoners when they outlive their usefulness. 

Tinker uncovers ancient secrets and a web of betrayal as she searches for the children.  The oni will stop at nothing to win, so neither can she.  At five foot nothing, Tinker's greatest weapon has always been her intelligence.  Politics, she discovers, is a battle of wits, and she's heavily armed.
There is so much in Elfhome it is hard to know where to start so I will just pick a place.
PlotPittsburgh, which had been the gateway between Earth and Elfhome is now stranded on Elfhome.  The gate between the two worlds was destroyed and has not been re-opened.  There is more that one race around Pittsburgh and trust between those who should be allies is almost non-existent.  While the oni look like the main enemy, maybe they are not.  There are others hidden in plain sight that are not what they seem.  Building trust while keeping from being wiped out is a big part of the plot.
Characters: All of the characters from previous books are back and a few new ones show up as well.  It is really hard to say who is the main character in the book.  The characters from different groups are a big part of moving the plot.  Tinker and Oilcan are both back.  Oilcan plays a much bigger role.  A whole group of young elf's play a major role.  I love the names (Fields of Barley, Cattail Reeds, Rustle of Leaves and Merry) define what they are and what they can do.  Tommy, the half-oni, has a deep sense of honor, a need to protect his extended family but still works to help those who do not trust him or his kind.  And there are all of the elves who are interesting side characters. The characters and their action truly drive this story
Worldbuilding:  Now that Pittsburgh is entirely on Elfhome new things are coming to light. Dangerous and deadly events from Elfhome’s past are revealed as still dangerous today.  The world around Pittsburgh just get more and more complex.
Writing:  Wen Spencer knows her craft.  Like all of her books Elfhome is very well written.  The tension builds, the story moves and while all problems are not solved characters do get the good or bad that they deserve.
I loved the book and hope that the wait for the next one will not be as long.  There are two short stories available as ebooks and Baen has a short story that goes with Elfhome on the Baen web site this month (October, 2012).  Wen Spencer also has other books.  You would not go wrong reading any of them.
Baen published Elfhome by Wen Spencer in 2012.

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