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Elfhome Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
"Elfhome" is the third of the series and the most complex in terms of narration, character development and social context. We travel with Tinker as she discovers more about her powers and as she begins to accept her role as the co-leader of the Elves, but the real stories are Oilcan's (Tinker's cousin) and Tommy's, the leader of the Humans and half-Oni who remain after the Elves purge the Oni from Pittsburgh. In Oilcan's case, the progression he goes through as he almost accidentally accepts responsibility for Elfin teenagers who are kidnapped by the Oni stands well on its own but serves as a wonderful counterpoint to his cousin Tinker's break-neck journey down the same path. Tommy, on the other hand, has too much responsibility and an "us versus them" attitude that served well when his extended family were slaves of the Oni. The war with the Oni and the interaction of the Elfin, Human, Tengu (raven-like humanoids created by the Oni) and half-Oni eventually cause Tommy to understand that his policy of isolation, like Oilcan's, isn't tenable and that his race must join the others if they are to win. There are subtle enjoyments as well: I didn't piece together the humor in naming a Tengu bar "Four and Twenty" (as in "four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie") until the third reading.
The story offers a number of loose ends, so there lots of possibilities for sequels. It goes without saying that I look forward to many more in this series.
I really enjoyed the switch in the story. Oilcan has always been quietly supportive of Tinker, so I was happy to learn more about him and to see where his strength came from. Seeing the world through his eyes really helped me understand why he is so protective... especially of children. Since Oilcan saw his mother murdered by his father, he has strived to protect his family while also not becoming his father. He finds his world turned upside-down when he becomes the protector of five Stone Clan children and when his great-great-great-etc-grandfather Forge of Stone appears.
Tommy has an equally sad past as well as a desire to be a better man than his father ever was. As the son of the deceased oni-leader Lord Tomtom, Tommy has seen his family abused and killed, and has taken care of the other half-oni children, even those that no one wants to see. When his family is threatened due to the actions of others, Tommy has to prove that he is innocent by rescuing Jewel Tear from the hands of the oni.
This story illustrates more than anything that all of the people are all one clan in the Westernlands. They are not Wind Clan or Stone Clan or Humans or Tengu or Half-Oni. They are Pittsburgh.
For the other two main plotlines - one of them is Tommy's POV, and mostly serves to hammer home just how foul the Oni are, and establish the half-Oni as the oppressed. marginalized underclass who are victims of racial discrimination in elf-dominated Pittsburgh. It also establishes them as a subculture that teaches its members to live outside the law, lie, cheat, and steal, therefore at least partially justifying everyone else's contempt. They are probably supposed to remind us of the underclass in modern urban areas, with some Yakuza flavor, but they actually come across more like stereotyped gypsies.
Plotline number three is probably the one that advances the most. It's oilcan's story, and his struggle to maintain his previous life in spite of his status as beloved cousin/brother to Pittsburg's, and Elfhome's newest celebrity sensation, Tinker. Oilcan frequently fails to realize just what that new status could enable him to do, which seems a bit out of character to me - previously, Oilcan seemed to be able to play the angles more than his brilliant but cheerfully naïve cousin Tinker, but here we see that somewhat reversed. There's also a fairly predictable "plot twist" that effects Oilcan and his future, but I won't comment more on that in the interest of minimizing spoilage.
All in all, if you expected this to be the third book in a trilogy you will be disappointed - it's the setup for the next book (or books) in a longer series. Most of the minor plotlines resolve, but the major ones just get set up for an eventual conclusion.