Knight of Ghosts and Shadows
Grade : B+

This story and its sequel, Summoned to Tourney, are two of my minor keepers. Knight of Ghosts and Shadows unites such disparate elements as Los Angeles urban elves, music, and magic, mixing them with romantic love. Warning! The readers who require the usual ending with the hero and heroine living happily ever after should stop reading now.

Eric Banyon is a loser. Making a living from playing the flute at Renaissance fairs and on street corners, he is no stranger to drink or recreational drugs, and today his girlfriend walked out on him. Feeling deeply sorry for himself, he sits in the woods playing the flute. But his music is more powerful than he expects, and it wakes Korendil, one of the local elves, who was put into a coma by a magic duel. Kory asks Eric to help save the elves of Los Angeles from annihilation. Eric’s reaction is that the effects of his over-indulging must finally have caught up with him.

Eric’s friend and fellow musician, Beth, brings him in on a gig, which allows Kory and Beth to meet, but it ends badly with a confrontation with the villains. Together, the trio begins to take action, but Eric is abducted by the sorceress, Ria, and the bad guys carry the day. After escaping, Eric finds Beth devastated and Kory trying to commit suicide. After settling their differences, they round up what support is still around and try to set things right.

Eric and Beth are far from perfect, and while Kory is gorgeous, he suffers from lack of self-esteem. They are all three very likable characters, even if Eric’s fondness for self-pity can get a bit much at times. This is a fast-paced read with all the humor that characterizes Ms. Lackey’s works. There are powerful elves that go dead drunk on a six pack of Coca-Cola; there are hints about the magic of the silver screen; and the next time I visit a mall, I’ll check out the ear shape of the local mall rats.

While the chief villain was pure evil, I really appreciated his daughter, Ria, whose actions were humanly understandable. Personally, I would have preferred Knight of Ghosts and Shadows to be somewhat longer. More space could have gone into showing more of the elfin community, plus, Beth’s background is rather sketchy. At first I wanted to know more about the Healers Elizabeth and Kayla, until I realized they have their own prequel, Bedlam Boyz, by Ms. Guon.

As for the morality of the story, it is up to the reader’s taste. To me, true love is true love, in whatever shape or species it may appear. Or as Eric puts it:

“Funny, the stories don’t ever say what happened to the hero’s best friend. The Prince and the Princess were married and lived happily ever after – and Sir Joe went off to. . . open an inn or something?”

If you are looking for story off the beaten track, and have no hang-ups about the mathematics of love, this could be a true gem.

Reviewed by Katarina Wikholm

Grade: B+

Book Type: 

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : February 2, 1999

Publication Date: 1992

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