Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dragons and guardians and elves and bards... OH MY!

So, since I said I'd start writing a weekly survey/synopsis entry on here, I figured I'd start with another favorite shared world series by an author I've reviewed before. Now, I was thinking about reviewing the NYC of the Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle  (mainly because I'm halfway through book 11, A Brew to a Kill) or catching everyone up on Southern Vampires (aka Sookie Stackhouse) by Charlaine Harris or Destroyermen by Taylor anderson (both of which have a new book out or getting ready to come out.) Instead, I got to thinking about Bedlam's Bard and the very interesting shared world it inhabits.

As a story behind this, many many years ago, I worked at a Dayton, OH, pizza chain named Cassano's. It remains one of the few good things in Dayton. (Ok, there are 3 really good chains down there. Milano's and anothe M which just brain farted out of my mind.) (And seriously, should you ever wind up in the cesspit that is Dayton, go to Cassano's. best pizza EVAR!) One of my drivers was also a fantasy nut, and as such got me involved with a few authors I'd either read a book by (Lois McMasters Bujold) or introduced me to series outside of the ones I had read (Mercedes Lackey). In this case, it took me a while to track down some of the books in question due to being out of print and assorted other drama...

Anyway.

My first introduction to the "Elves on the Road" world (at least that what Wikipedia calls it... I don't think it ever had a real name) was Burning Water, the first Diana Tregarde mystery. It was...interesting Very slow, but really interesting. It dug deep into Pre Conquista Mexican theology and some rather dumb photographer trying to complete the ritual rites of Tezcatlipoca (AKA Burning Water) in order to bring him back. Luckily, Diana Tregarde, Romance novelist and witch with Guardian powers gets involved, mainly because the wife of said photographer (and likely sacrifice) happens to be a friend of hers.

The next book, Children of the Night, was set in the late 60's early 70's (guessing on time frame based on references within the story) and involved bad vampires working with soul eating Japanese spirits. It too, was kind of drawn out. And gave Diane a vampire boyfriend about 7 years before Buffy the Vampire Slayer and 10ish before Twilight. 

It's the third book, however, that seems  to have caused the most issues, and sadly, it's the best in the series. Jinx High follows the child of one of Diana's paranormal investigator friends who's involved with a psycho girl. When Diana gets involved,  we find out the psycho in question is a body switching witch who's modus operandi is to have a daughter, then switch bodies with her. And had been doing this for quite some time.

There are also two short stories ("Satanic, Versus..." and "Nightside") collected in the anthology Werehunter. I'm pretty sure both are available to read on her website. The former has one of my favorite joke incantations in it, and references an old RPG: Bureau 13. For those who never played, it has a class called Kitchen Witch. The kitchen witch has the ability to take old grimoires and convert them with modern ingredients. Including replacing some obscure/rare/extinct ingredient  with... Twinkies. She also wrote a novella for the collection Trio of Sorcery called "Arcanum 101".

Then there was the absolutely wonderful Bedlam's Bard series. The first two (Knight of Ghosts and Shadows and Summoned to Tourney) were later published as a single volume and co-written by Ellen Guon. The next four volumes were cowritten with Rosemary Edgehill and sort of retcon a few major developments from the first two. The first two books revolve around Eric, a bard with a flute; Beth, a guitarist with a band; and Kory, an elf. At the end of the first book and continuing through the second, they're a triad. When the thirst books starts, Kory and Beth move Underhill and the idea of them being a triad for several years is swept away. Which is sad, but ot does allow for the redemption of the sort of antagonist from Book 1 who ends up dating Eric. Eric also winds up moving to NYC and into the same apartment building Diana Tregarde lived in. he also meets Hosea, a bard with a Banjo. And more Guardians. And more Elves.

By far, Mad Maudlin is my favorite in the last 4 volumes. One of the plotlines running around has to do with a mythology created by homeless kids involving a demon named Bloody Mary who both protects and harms children on the streets. Not long after reading it, I found an article on the street children of Miami and a similar mythology that has evolved among them. I personally get sucked into folklore, and finding an evolving one is a quick way to grab my interest.

The last series in this Modern Elf world is the SERRAted Edge series. Which is almost a shared world in and of itself, since none of the book really follow the same characters the rest did. (Most of these were co-written with Mark Shepherd, one with Larry Dixon, and two with Holly Lisle.) It concerns itself with elves who race Elven Steeds disguised as race cars. (Although they have made progress making racing cars with non-ferrous materials. Since we all know iron and elves get along about as well as Superman and Kryptonite.) One should not that the young mage Tannim gets a lot of face time in this series. Which is good, since he makes a cameo in Jinx High and Spirits White as Lightning.

According to Wiki, there's a historical elf series set earlier in the timeline of this world, but I've not read them.

But, if you've read Valdemar or enjoy Urban Fantasy, you could do a lot worse than these series.