Reviewer: Katherine Ray

Author: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Published: 2007

Reviewed: 2009-04-23

Publisher: Baen Books

I read this book at the end of February, two months ago now, but I
could not write about it then as I was so very disappointed by the
ending. So why am I writing now? The sequel to "Duainfey" just
arrived at our library this week, and as soon as it's done being
properly processed, I'll read it. The ending of "Duainfey," if you
haven't guessed by this, is a terrible place to leave a stand-alone
book, but an acceptable stopping point in a longer story arc. For
example, you don't put a character through an ordeal and then not let
that character use what has been learned in the ordeal before the
story ends, and you don't introduce a really interesting character and
then not do too much with that character in a stand alone book.
However, regarding "Duainfey" as a really long, excellent exposition
to a further story makes it fit much better into my story-telling
sense, and thus makes me happy to talk about it.

"Duainfey" is a much better book than the inside cover blurb would
have you think. It's not a simple "sweet Victorian maid flees
ill-fated arranged marriage and finds her true destiny" story. It's a
story about elves and a story about humans, and we get to see the elf
point of view more than one normally does in most fantasy stories.
The elves are recognizably elves, which means they follow the rules
set down in Diana Wynne Jones's "Tough Guide to Fantasyland," as well
as other standard rules for elves. They're magical, beautiful,
long-lived, and tricky. They live in a hard-to-reach location, have a
queen, claim that the old elves are superior to the new ones, and are
burned by iron. On the other hand, they are not portrayed as
mysterious beings with unknowable goals either. In the prologue, (and
hey, it's the prologue, this isn't much of a spoiler, now is it? but
if you want you can skip to the end of the paragraph), the elves
discover humans and have to figure out how to deal with this other
species that is dangerous (has iron) and is really, ridiculously
attractive to them. So the story has a lot of first meetings type of

The book has well made characters. How do I still remember this after
two months? I couldn't put the book down, and I am a very
character-centric reader. I know people who like explosions in their
books, and there aren't too many guns in this book. I know people who
are allergic to romance in books, and they would not have to be wary
of this one. There are people who want the characters of books to be
psychologically tormented, and now that I know this is a series, if
book two turns out to be good I may recommend it to that friend.
There are people who are in love with scenery and world-building, and
Duainfey was good enough for my purposes there, but I have no idea how
it ranks in the eyes of a connoisseur. I like my characters. I liked
the "maiden about to be wed" character before she ran off, and
anticipate liking her again later, and I loved the second main
character to appear on the scene.