Dark Warrior Rising: A Novel of Niflheim
by Ed Greenwood
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765317650
Date: 18 September 2007 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
As a child in the village of Ashenuld, Orivon Firefist knows about the Niflghar, the dark elves who periodically raid the surface for human slaves. He never expects, at six years of age, to be captured and brought through the tunnels leading to the vast caves where their castles lie. There are two types of dark elves; those who worship the Ever Ice which gives them mastery over magics and treat their slaves reasonably well; and those who worship the goddess Oline who need more slaves that they torture and break into submission. They are needed to do the work so that no blemish will mar their master or mistress's beauty.
Orivon had the misfortune to become the slave of cruel Taerune of the powerful and ruling house of Everdoom. She whipped him countless times and tortured him until she thought she broke him. He is her favorite because as a smithy he produces beautiful objects. He knows he will only have one chance to escape and he patiently waits for the proper moment. The Everdoom have powerful rivals, enemy houses that want to be the most powerful. The House of Ouhlor finds a way past the magical wards and fierce fighting between the two houses ignites. While in battle Taerune loses her head; the lead crone refuses to heal her and calls her Nameless.
She is given the chance to commit to suicide to avoid public disgrace for the family but Orivon, who escaped during the chaos of the fighting with weapons, prevents her. Although he has hated her for a long time, he needs her to guide him to the surface in return he will let her go to seek other Nameless. Various people of her family and other houses give chase and they have many traps and people who are hunting them to avoid if they want to stay alive.
This is a stand alone book that is not part of any series yet contains as much information as a trilogy does. Ed Greenwood explores the culture, social mores and customs and strengths and weakness of the Dark Elves. He goes into such detail that readers get a day to day glimpse of life underground. The dark elves believe the humans are not intelligent and their culture primitive because the elves beauty, fantastic architecture, study of magic and advanced technology are much superior compared with beings who look and act like animals to them.
The two main characters Orivon and Taerune are diametric opposites who believe the other's civilization is totally barbaric. He has loathed her for a long time for hurting him, but bided his time doing her bidding until the opportunity arises to escape. He spares her life and is willing to let her go free if she helps him reach the surface. Both have the same enemies and she, who is aware of how they can be tracked, agrees they need one another. They reach a truce and he comes to see she is not evil by nature but a product of her environment. Dark Warrior Rising is a magical treat that will please fantasy purists. Readers who enjoy the works of David B. Coe, Kate Elliot and Katherine Kurtz will want to read this special tale.