Monday, February 6, 2012

Birth of the Half Elves: World of Ryyah (The Elven Age Saga)

H. L. Watson
Two Harbors Press (2011)
ISBN 9781937293420
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Birth of the Half Elves" is the first of six books in the "Elven Age Saga." It takes place on the planet Ryyah. The tale begins when the human youth Donovan's quiet village is overtaken by barbarians.  Catching the people off guard the barbarians attack the town while the men are out on a salmon fishing expedition.  These barbarians are slavers looking for women and young men to capture.  After they initiate their attack on these peaceful people, the only remaining survivors are the women and the young men deemed fit enough to sell into slavery. Twelve-year-old Donovan and his best friend Akenji are both captured.  While they are being led off, they are spotted by Elven Rangers.  The leader of these Elven warriors is a female named Alayna.  Alayna takes pity on the captives and orders her men to rescue them.  She knows that this goes against her Elven Lord Aden's wishes, because he wants all human trespassers to be destroyed.  In her heart she knows that these young men are innocent.

Alayna decides to convince Lord Aden to allow her to train the youth as spies so that they can prove useful in helping protect his forest. He agrees, but always does everything in his power to send them into battle before they are ready. This pains Alayna greatly.  When Lord Aden's daughter Princess Brandela is sent to Eldergate to find eligible servants, she is captured when the town is attacked. Once again barbarians are seeking slaves. They are also hoping to capture the princess because they know that she will bring in a huge bounty from the dangerous Shadow Elves.  As the fighting commences, lives are lost and the princess is taken captive.  When Donovan discovers who he has lost to the barbarians, he vows revenge and seeks to free the princess so that the Shadow Elves will take their fury of her loss out on the leader of the Barbarians.

Once Donovan gets to Brandela, the adventure really begins. They discover a connection that they did not know was possible between humans and elves. As they journey back to Brandela's forest they have to remain vigilant to avoid the barbarians. This is much easier said than done. They also try to understand what is happening between them. Their connection to each other is incredible, and Brandela's father will not be happy when he discovers the truth. 

"Birth of the Half Elves" is a wonderfully written Elven fantasy.  I read it in one sitting. As a matter of fact, as soon as I started reading, I was hooked and I wished that I had all six of the books that are in the series.  The story is unique in that humans are trained in the Elven ways.  Having a romance between a human and an elf also leads to some interesting dilemmas. The background descriptions of the places where the tale takes place are colorfully written and easy to picture.  The characters are also all very complex and add a great deal of reality to the story. I highly recommend this novel to fans of fantasy fiction.