Gemquest: The Revenge of the Elves by Gary Wassner
Published by Windstorm Creative
The opening pages of Revenge of the Elves, the latest installment of Gary Wassner’s epic GemQuest set, lets the reader know Wassner his not pulling any punches. Though the quality of his writing increased with each of the previous three books in the series, with Revenge, Gary’s writing is more unrestrained. He isn’t holding anything back here.
The story follows on from the previous volume, as the characters attempt to recover from the devastating battle that concluded the action in The Shards. Many of the characters are on differing narrative paths, much like previous volumes. Despite that, the pace is not broken and if anything, Gary is able to keep the momentum going with each “narrative ball” he juggles.
This leg of the GemQuest journey entails the search for a map that may help aid in the discovery of the secrets of an ancient dead city; discovering the reason why the Lalas (sentient trees) are becoming so dismissive of their human bondmates; search for the 11th Gem – something of a lodestone; and the holding back, if not defeat, of Dark Lord Colton. Though these are the primary plot points propping up the story, each main plot strand has its own substory that helps to further propel the narrative.
Some of the scenes are pure magic, particularly the climatic events surrounding the ancient city of Odelot. Gary has a strong philosophical background and much of it informs the story and the characters themselves. This is particularly true of the character of Robyn, who argues and struggles throughout the novel with the choices he has made and must make. Robyn is a character torn between promises, friendship and familial ties and with each representation of these conflicts, his conversations are some of the most compelling dialogues in the novel.
Perhaps my only problem with the novel is that Colton does not get enough space in the novel. His power; however, is much more on display in Revenge. His lieutenants begin to mount the armies Colton literally created, as they wreak havoc across the face of the earth.
What might be the strongest and most winning aspect of Revenge of the Elves is how the story grows by the page. That is, with each passage and chapter, Wassner’s narrative becomes increasingly difficult to separate from yourself. By the halfway point, and even more so with only about a third of the novel remaining, the ranging plot elements come together in a crescendo of tension and anticipation. The mystery behind the title of the novel eluded me for much of the novel. However, as with the plot elements and narrative, meaning began to come to the surface as the story began to unfold, coming together into a very effective WOW!-moment.
All told, the novel adds depth to the ongoing GemQuest saga, both at the level of the story itself, as well as the characters and their motivations. Windstorm Creative is backing Gary on this series, fantasy readers should do the same. Especially readers who enjoy Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Greg Keyes’ Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, and Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars. Though traditional in the nature of its story and style, GemQuest, Revenge of the Elves in particular, is its own wonderful story and saga.
© 2007 Rob H. Bedford
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