I remember this book being my favorite of the Death Gate Cycle when I was a teenager. I think it still might be. Though when I re-read it recently I shook my head because Fizban… er, Zifnab makes an appearance to pretty much push (or tug) the characters along the plot line.
Fizban is a character from the Dragonlance Chronicles. You’ll either love him or you hate him in that series. The same goes with The Death Gate Cycle. He’s a form of comic relief… and something else. And when you discover what that something else, you might wish the other characters (in either series) follow through with their threats to kill him.
Elven Star is set on Pryan, a jungle world with four suns and three races: elves, humans, and dwarves who do not get along. The humans are always fighting each other and elves sell magic weapons to both sides.
The story begins when Roland and his sister Rega plan to dupe Paithan, an elven arms merchant, to sell his weapons at a lower cost. The brother and sister would then turn around and sell the weapons to a dwarven agent named Drugar/Blackbeard.
Drugar wants the weapons to prepare his kingdom from attack from previously unknown enemy capable of wiping out entire empires.
It’s a good set up.
And then, just as in Dragon Wing, the real main character, Haplo makes his appearance. We learn more about Haplo’s backstory and his travails of surviving the prison world of The Labyrinth, and a lost love interest.
Everybody’s plans go awry when the Tytans, this mysterious enemy, march into the region and destroy everything in their path.
Then the story really starts to move along. You get to see Haplo unleash more of his magic which was only hinted at in the first book.
My biggest problem is Zifnab. Nobody can make a major decision later in the book without him. And its obvious he knows more than he’s letting on, but he acts senile whenever somebody asks him a direct question.
He reminds me of a bad game master’s favorite NPC who steals the limelight away from the PCs, and the game master can’t stop talking about him.
I figure that the authors probably included him to lure in fans from Dragonlance. Certain readers do find him likable, I just don’t.
And the real downside that I’m starting to remember more of the rest of the series and Zifnab’s role in it… and I’m not certain if I want to read the remaining books in the series.
I will, however, make that decision once I finish third book, Fire Sea.
Get this if: You’re a fan of Dragonlance, the authors, or both. The neat thing is that you don’t have to read the Dragon Wing to grasp what’s going in Elven Star.
Don’t get this if: Fizban ruined the Dragonlance Chronicles for you or you don’t like much comic relief in your fantasy fiction. There’s a point where the Tytans slaughter hundreds (thousands!?!) of people and Zifnab is like: aw shucks, “only the best and the brightest will survive.”