Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review | Elves – Once Walked With Gods by James Barclay

Review by Karen Simpson Nikakis

It is extremely difficult to think of elves without thinking of Peter Jackson’s rendition of Tolkienesque elves as being tall, slender and blonde. From the lithe athleticism of Legolas to the serene beauty of Galadriel and the wisdom of Elrond, Tolkienesque elves might fight with the required ferocity, but their motivations are lofty, and their more desired pursuits that of poetry and music. The contrast with Barclay’s murderous, treacherous and ethnically or ‘thread’ divided elves couldn’t be more startling. Gone too is the cool arboreal gloom usually favoured as elvish habitation, replaced with tropical, parasite infested jungles. The hero Takaar is in self-imposed exile and in his absence, the various ‘threads’ turn on each other. Aided by human mercenaries, no act is too despicable, no murder too bloody. And like the elves, it took me a considerable way into the narrative before I could work out whose side I should be on. This is the first book in a trilogy, but its darkness and reliance on the events in the back story, make me think it would be far better suited as Book Two.

This review first appeared in the Aurealis Magazine subscriber newsletter.

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