Elfshadow - Elaine Cunningham After reading so many of the positive reviews and having read some of Elaine's other books, I was anticipating a good read. I was more than a little disappointed.
The book starts out great with a stunning assassination and then Arilyn as a child who is placed under the guiding wing of Kymil, master swordsman. After Chapter 1, the story begins to fail. Arilyn becomes a detached character with whom I could feel no attachment. I didn't understand her reasonings behind some of her actions (for instance, the jaunt into the marsh). Then, I felt she too easily relied on Elaith (I don't care if they are the same race of Elves, I would have been suspicious especially if I were a loner elf!). However, as the story grew and the identity of the Harper assassin was unveiled, I did begin to grow attached to Arilyn, though not as much as I thought I would have in the beginning.
While Arilyn was a little disappointing as a character, Danilo was superb (though, towards the beginning, a little too cliched for my liking). He was convincing as an undercover agent, and I could really feel for him. His motivations made sense on the most part (although one conclusion he makes about Elaith I feel is contrived).
Other than Arilyn's character, there were a few other problems. Females in the book seemed either to be too much like Arilyn or buxom, brainless barmaids. Males (at least most of them) came in two flavors as well: greedy, fat, disgusting, sex-obsessed thieves (pretty much any villain in the book) or tough, men (i.e. Kymil and Elaith). The magic was unimpressive. And I got so sick and tired of hearing about unguents I thought I would scream.
In the end, I was not upset at the book (towards the middle, I was regretting having ever started it). It ended well, and the characters had grown in ways I had though appropriate. I guess I should not have been expecting something as deep as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. This is a fun, easy read, nothing more. Keep this in mind if you plan on picking this one up.