High Fantasy, Elves, Necromancers, Vampires, Magic, Quests, Orcs, Dwarfs
The dark elf vampire who rules Castle Mistmore is searching for a small red harp. Chanzoon Nexus, necromancer, wants to know why. He has the harp—now he needs a bard who can play it well enough to uncover its secrets. But Faydwer’s bards consider harps to be quaint folk instruments, unworthy of their attention.
Elizerain grew up with a harp in her hands. A merry, fun-loving wood elf, she collects ballads like other adventurers collect treasure. If these story-songs are entertaining, she doesn’t care if they’re accurate.
That was before a necromancer’s curse gave her a choice: learn the true stories behind her ballads, or die screaming.
One such ballad features her new red harp. Intent on her search, surrounded by deadly enemies and treacherous alliances, Elizerain doesn’t realize that the real danger may be the harp itself.
If you know me at all then you know there is NO way on Earth I could pass up a book with a description like that. Vampires? Check. Elves? Check. Necromancers? Check. Necromancer who wants to get secrets of a vampire elf? Check! Add to that the very first paragraph in the book:
"The necromancer stalked from the silent chamber, his black and scarlet robes swirling around him. Frustration twisted his face, and his pale blue eyes, though deeply shadowed by the cowl of his cloak, burned like azure flame. Behind him, one of the finest bards in all of Faydwer knelt in a pool of her own blood. Tears of pain and despair coursed down her cheeks as she stared at the twisted, broken things her hands had become."
I was immediately hooked. This story, as the plot suggests is about an evil, and for once very smexy, necromancer who wants to be the one and only Dawnwalker. A Dawnwalker is one who is a vampire by night, with all the super powers that entitles, but is back to his or her old self during the day. So, basically he'd be a powerful necromancer by day and an even more powerful vampire by night.
Now tell me you aren't just dying to read that!
Unfortunately for our friend, the very very evil necromancer by the name of Chanzoon Nexus, the only way to find out how this works is by playing the blood red harp. Problem is that the harp will only yield its secret when the right bard plays it. Our necro friend won't be stopped by such trivial things so he sets out to torture and kill any and all bards he can get his hands on to find the perfect one. To do this, he has "enlisted" [more like forced] the aid of a very unscrupulous rogue by the name of Davin the Dark. As he is under Chanzoon's spell he has to help him find said bard and he does so by suggesting his ex wife the wood elf Elizerain.
Elizerain and Davin were married for about a year and this, along with the fact that she is a bard AND likes to play the harp [seen by elves as beneath them] has gotten her a reputation amongst her elven clan. She doesn't seem to care much since she is off all over the place in quests and adventures and she travels alone. During one of her travels she goes to Kelethin for a song festival and runs into an old friend by the name of Xander Fletcher whom she used to be in love with. Xander however doesn't think too much of Elizerain after she was involved with the bandit Davin and his band of robbers.
Through a series of [shall I say it? lol] unfortunate events Elizerain is cursed by the necromancer and is forced on a quest to save her life. Xander, as well as a highborn elf by the name of Nyson and Trobe the dwarf joins her in this quest but as with anything in these types of quests nothing and no one is as they seem.
Let me start by saying that I absolutely LOVED this book and was hoping against hope there was a sequel or a series to follow. I couldn’t get enough of all the characters, both good and evil. They all fit their parts perfectly and none of them dragged the story down or seemed out of place. Elizerain Greenleaf is a perfect heroine for this quest. She isn't under the illusion that she is better than anyone or that she can do everything herself. She knows exactly what her weaknesses are and she takes them into account when it's time for her to act. I can honestly say that there was only one time where she chose the wrong thing to do and, even the, you can understand where she is coming from as she did it to help someone in need. She is strong yet she is not above following directions or someone else’s' lead when she understands they know better than she does in the particular circumstances. I also liked her spunky attitude because it goes well with the adventures they encountered.
As far as the rest of the characters, well, I have no complaints. Chanzoon Nexus, the necromancer and villain of the book was truly evil. He had no scruples and he did whatever necessary to get what he wants. At the same time he is not portrayed as an all-powerful super villain, who usually look ridiculous, and he knows when to back off and rethink his plan.
Xander Fletcher, the wood elf soldier, and Nyson Impholder, the highborn elf, also fit their roles perfectly. Xander was a true hero yet even he had his darker side and Nyson, although a highborn and with every right to have the snobby attitude you'd expect from any aristocratic elf, didn't fall into the dandy or whiny category.
The quest itself was very entertaining and not once did I skim ahead or did the pace of the story bore me. My only complain is that the ending was a bit too fast paced and didn't keep with the rest of the story. To be sure, the outcome and the way everything was solved was in keeping with the story and very satisfying but it should have been a little more detailed, again, in keeping with the rest of the story.
Other than that I've no cause for complain.
I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good solid read about adventure with wonderful characters, a truly evil villain and lots of action and adventure. I wish the author would give us more of these wonderful characters and I'd love a series based on this world.
I am giving it a solid 4.5 out of 5!