I enjoy the world of fantasy with fairies, hobbits, and elves. One of my chief complaints though is it can sometimes take two or three chapters into the book to figure who is of what race. Rosa Lee drew me right into the story of Shai-la in Half-Elf by making very clear at the beginning who was elf, human, and goblin.
The story of Shai-la is more than about whether she is half-elf; her father is human. It is Shai-la’s adventures to find how who she really that is the story.
The reader meets Shai-la as she learns she has been promised to be the bride of Elvan prince Lord Erik. Shai-la is a tomboy who has never been schooled in the graces of Elvan womanhood. And Lord Erik has a reputation of crude and boorish attitude toward women.
Shai-la tries to become the Elvan woman her mother wants her to be and Lord Erik expects. But it becomes too hard for her to continue to endure Erik’s behavior. She trades in her feminine trappings and sets out on an adventure. She has no idea where it will lead, and no goal other than to get away.
The reader follows Shai-la has she joins up with a motley crew of dwarves, goblins, and haflings, along with Fyr the Fabulous of the king’s court of Jalar. Fyr starts the adventure by gathering all who are needed. Shai-la, however, becomes the leader by default.
Shai-La and her band don’t set out on a specific quest. Each has a reason for going; Shai-La’s is to earn money for her family. The purpose for others making the trek isn’t reveled until later in the story.
Each encounter along the way gets more treacherous, leading up to a climatic battle that changes Shai-La’s future forever. Unlike other novels, Half-Elf doesn’t end with the major battle of the kingdom. It does, however, conclude internal battles for each of the characters. The qualities revealed in the quest are in place for the next book in the series. (Due for release in Spring 2012.)
Half-Elf is lengthy by comparison with many books published today. The short chapters make it easy to move right through it. Pencil sketches of the characters and some of the battles are sprinkled throughout; something not usually seen in a novel any more.
Ms. Lee’s story is a classic good vs. evil. Shai-La and others of her band grapple with the decision of which action to take, as all people do at times. In the end, there is no grey area, and the consequences of evil decisions are harsh.
The story has some romantic tension throughout, but Ms. Lee doesn’t succumb to gratuitous sex scenes, as is the trend in modern novels. The language is clean, again a welcome change of pace. This makes not only pleasant reading for adults, but also a parent can hand this book to their teen without concern.
This is not an overtly religious book. But Ms. Lee portrays religious beliefs and faith in such a way parents can use if as a jumping off point for talking about their religious beliefs. She also does not depict all the religious leaders as inherently good. Ms. Lee shows that all have the propensity for choosing the evil road, not matter the vocation.
Half-Elf is a book that teaches a few lessons while traveling in Shai-La’s world. It is a journey the entire family can enjoy.
Half-Elf: Touch of Insanity, Book 1
Huginn Muginn Press