If there were one word to describe the 765 page behemoth fantasy novel, The Elven, that word would be “epic” indeed. The Elven is a story that spans both place, time and worlds as two elves and one human try to hunt down a demon that has emerged without explanation in the human world.

elvenThe story begins with Jarl Mandred and his hunting party hunting for game near their small village when they come upon the corpse of an animal that has been viciously attacked. The nature of the animal’s wounds alarm the hunting party – it is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. As the men prepare to set up camp, they are attacked by a creature that is described as being half man and half boar.

The only survivor of the attack is Mandred who fled to a sacred, yet forbidden structure that takes him to the world of the elves. Once healed from his wounds, Mandred is taken to Emerelle the elf queen and requests to form a hunting party to kill the creature that murdered his companions. Mandred is convinced the creature that attacked him has its origins in the elf world.

The queen allows for the assembly of a hunting party on one condition – she gets Mandred’s first born. Due to the urgency of the situation, Mandred complies.

It is during the assembly of the hunting party that Mandred meets the two companions that will be by his side throughout the rest of the novel; Farodin and Nuramon. Farodin is considered the fiercest fighter of the elf world and Nuramon a healer. In one of the strangest story arch I’ve encountered in a book, Nuramon and Farodin are part of a strange love triangle with a strong sorceress, Noroelle who, through a series of events has been banished to yet another world by the queen Emerelle.

When the hunting party reaches the human world they learn that the creature that Mandred was attacked by was a demon – a creature that should have been killed many years ago. There is no explanation why it suddenly reemerged, but what the demon does sets a series of events into motion that will impact the fates of all the characters involved.

The novel is epic in scope and has a sharp focus on the role of fate and destiny, and how you sometimes have to endure a lot of trials to finally achieve what fate has in store for you. Although enjoyable, the book did have several parts that would have benefited with some form of explanation, for instance, the peculiar relationship the elves had with the trolls. At one moment they are fighting each other, the next they are fighting side by side – what caused this sudden trust? Then there is also the lives of the dwarves, what happened to them during and after the final battle?

But most importantly, the most irritating aspect of the novel was Noroelle, in many aspects she was a very unconvincing plot device. Apparently it was the love that Farodin and Nuramon had for her that drove them on this long epic quest to try and free her from her banishment. It’s not that I disliked her, but she certainly owed one of the characters an explanation in regards to the origins of a certain child. She put one of the characters through quite a bit of hell and seemed to only want to write it off as a mere ‘oopsie’.

The decisions she made certainly deserved more explanation on her part considering the multitude of lives she put at stake – including those of her lovers.

Mandred’s personality went through a lovely evolution throughout the book. I enjoyed his interesting point of view as he observed the changes taking place around him. It was also quite clear to me that Nuramon was a healer; his abilities were highlighted several times throughout the book. The book however offered little proof supporting that Farodin was indeed the ‘fiercest fighter’. Yes, there was that scene where he alone attacked the troll fortress, but nothing stood out that said, ‘look! this is the distinguished elven fighter, Farodin’. To me there seemed to be nothing very extraordinary about him.

If you are looking for an epic fantasy to sink your teeth into, I would suggest The Elven by Bernhard Hennen – it certainly had its weaknesses, but enjoyable none-the-less.

☆½ –  The Elven by Bernhard Hennen

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