Friday, March 15, 2013

Elfhunter by C.S. Marks: Review, guest post & giveaway

About the Book

This is the tale of Gorgon Elfhunter, a monstrous, mysterious creature who has sworn to destroy all the Elves of Alterra—until none remain. It is the story of Wood-elven heroine Gaelen Taldin, who has sworn to rid her world of the Elfhunter even as she is hunted by him. The conflict between them creates a tangled web that blurs the line between Light and Darkness, love and obsession, free will and fate. Filled with moments both tender and terrifying, thrilling yet thought-provoking, it is a timeless epic fantasy suitable for readers of all ages. Join the Company of Elves, dwarves, mortal men, and delightfully intelligent horses. Come to Alterra—the “World that Is”.

My Review

 Elfhunter is the first in a trilogy set in the fantasy world of Altera.  There is a seriel killer murdering elves, and Gaelen, a woodelf and our heroine has sworn to stop Gorgon Elfhunter.  Gaelen is joined by her cousin, Nelwyn and a cast of characters they meet and befriend along the way.  Gaelen discovers a strange connection between her and the Elfhunter which builds tension and keeps the reader turning pages.

Elfhunter is an epic fantasy similar in style to that of Tolkien, though much easier to read, as far as language.  This is a whopper at of a book at almost 600 pages, and it is just the beginning of this tale.  It is well written, fun to read, with lots of adventure.  It has much violence, but I still feel that it would be suitable for more mature middle school to high school readers. 

If you're looking for the next big thing in fantasy, you'll find it in Elfhunter.

About the Author
C.S. Marks is best known for her trilogy of high fantasy novels (Elfhunter; Fire-heart; Ravenshade). Her books have earned acclaim from a wide range of readers, particularly for depth of character development, compelling storyline, and writing excellence. The kindle versions have enjoyed top 10 seller status in epic fantasy in both the US and UK.

After a year of all titles being "out of print and unavailable", Chris is now looking forward to the re-release of the newly remastered Elfhunter trilogy, to be followed by comic book and graphic novel adaptations. She is also hard at work on a new Alterran series, The Undiscovered
Realms, and the first in a series of novellas, The Alterra Histories, has recently been released (The Fire King).

C.S. Marks holds a doctorate in Life Sciences, and is a Professor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, where she has taught Equine Science for twenty years. She is a popular panelist, seminar presenter, and lecturer. Her no-nonsense, realistic, practical-yet-good-humoredapproach has benefited many aspiring authors. She encourages writers who strive for excellence, regardless of publishing path chosen.

Guest Post

A few thoughts on Good Bad Guys:

            Not many people know that the Alterra books actually sprang from the desire to develop and explore the villain. Yes...the villain. Gorgon has always been my favorite character to write, and he is also the most difficult. It’s not so hard to put myself in the place of a “good” character. I can usually understand what motivates a protagonist, but it’s a lot bigger stretch to imagine what goes on in the mind of a creature driven by hate, consumed by dark emotions, who derives pleasure from causing suffering to others. Despite what some of my students may tell you, that’s NOT my usual m.o.

            I get to know my characters very well in the course of a novel or two, and I want them all to be compelling, but I wanted Gorgon to be outstanding. I wanted my readers to be thinking about him long after they closed the cover on the last book in the trilogy. So, how does one create a particularly effective villain? At the risk of “spoiling” the experience for those who have yet to read Elfhunter, Fire-heart, and Ravenshade, I’ll share a few thoughts on my favorite bad guy.

            Everyone here who has had the pleasure of a good read knows the value of a multi-dimensional antagonist. We remember the villains who have delighted us--Richard III, Randall Flagg, Lord Voldemort--and try to discern what it is that makes them memorable. The mindless, evil “Dark Lord” bores me. I want my villains to be complex, I want to understand what drives them, and I want them to be relatable, if not sympathetic. Thoroughly nasty, but with glimmers of humanity.

            At first, Gorgon Elfhunter appears to be a mindless monstrosity--we don’t even know what kind of being he is. But as the story progresses, we peel him like an onion. We learn of his origins, and speculate on what drives him to be as he is. We try, at least on some level, to understand him. Once in a while we almost feel empathy--usually right before he does something really nasty and we change our minds. (Jeez! I can’t believe I almost LIKED you for a second!) A good villain should make you mad. Really mad.

            The best villains are full of surprises. They’re unpredictable, adding to our suspense as we wonder what they’re up to. And they threaten our favorite heroes/heroines effectively enough that some of us will turn to the last page to find out which side prevails. (I would not suggest doing that unless there’s a dog--I always have to know if the dog makes it.)

            A great villain is heartless, but may have a soft spot for something--some Achilles’ heel. If the protagonists are lucky, they’ll figure this out and exploit it. Meanwhile, we readers can keep turning pages hoping the secret will be discovered. (Princess! You need peanut butter! Peanut butter is his Kryptonite! He’ll fold like a cheap suit! Oh, my gosh! Dude! That guy has a soft spot for kittens...and your sister!)

            Some of the best and most memorable villains are petty--they don’t threaten world domination, they just torture small animals and helpless children. Stephen King is especially good at those. They’re effective, in my opinion, because we’ve all met at least one heartless, bullying snake-in-the-grass, maybe in fifth grade. They are the ones whose eventual downfall and comeuppance I can’t WAIT to witness. I don’t even care about the heroes any more--I just want to see that slimy b**tard get his!

            Gollum is a wonderful villain--he’s SO annoying that I wanted him to vanish in a cloud of sulfurous vapor, never to return. I have often wondered what the inspiration was for that particular character. Brilliant.

            In case anyone is wondering what inspired Gorgon, I wanted to explore a character who had been born into a world with very few choices. Utterly rejected, driven by hatred, convinced that love is a weakness, Gorgon has always reminded me of the doomed souls in our own world who believe that the act of killing gives purpose to their lives. I wanted to try to understand such motivations. At times it was difficult. Gorgon is an odd mixture of personalities--at times vulnerable, insecure, and filled with doubt, and at times utterly vicious, inexorable, unstoppable. There is a kind of wistfulness in him at times, countered by a profound stubbornness and an undeniably perverted fascination with pain.

            An interesting villain should be pitted against an interesting heroine. Gaelen fills the bill--she’s like Captain Ahab chasing Moby Dick. It’s fun to see how Gorgon’s attitude toward her changes as the story unfolds. The relationship that develops between them may be unholy, but it’s a grand device for revealing their inmost thoughts and emotions--what drives them to be as they are. Both characters evolve as they tumble through the story together--each trying to put an end to the other. Who will prevail? Can either succeed in defeating the other without losing his/her very nature? Will that b**tard ever get his comeuppance?

            If you decide to purchase Elfhunter, I hope you’ll stay through the entire trilogy. That’s the only way you’ll know for sure.


The author has agreed to give away one copy of the Fire King and 3 digital copies of the Elfhunter.  Please enter in the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


"Archer" said...

Hi, Jennifer! Thanks so much for allowing me to stop here on my blog tour. You've got a great blog here! I'm glad you enjoyed Elfhunter, and I want to wish your followers best of luck with the giveaway!

--Chris Marks

Unknown said...

Thank you for the chance to enter the giveaway.
WOW this book sounds really great and I really love the cover as well. I can see myself getting hooked on this trilogy. I love trilogies (but am always sad when they are over).
Oh my, favorite bad guy? I have too many! Far too many. Almost all disney bad guys just because they have always been my go to bad guys (Maleficent was scary when I was a kid and I still wouldn't want to be on her bad side!). Another one I really liked was the character of Gavin in Disturbing Behavior. There are so many others and when I am trying to think of them on the spot right now I can't! I do love the bad guys though and sometimes it's nice when they win (The Usual Suspects was a good one for that).

Shelly H.

Unknown said...

Awesome Review thank you so much, I'm always looking for a good fantasy.

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