Title: The Elf Tangent
Publisher/Author: Lindsey Buroker
Princess Aldari of Delantria would rather solve mathematical puzzles and write papers about economics than attend royal balls in fancy gowns. Unfortunately, her country is being threatened by the Taldar Empire, and their only hope is a marital alliance with the neighboring country of Orath. And so Aldari finds herself traveling through the Sharktooth Mountains, surrounded by a company of elven mercenaries — who kidnap her at the first opportunity. The elves, it seems, have problems of their own. A curse has afflicted their land for eight hundred years, and they are convinced that Aldari’s gift for mathematics and puzzles is key to ending that curse …. Torn between her duty to her homeland and her compassion for the elves, Aldari must make a terrible choice ….
I have been a fan of Buroker’s fantasy and science fiction stories for a long time, and I follow her on FaceBook. When she announced that she had just published her semi-secret “fun” project, I downloaded it immediately.
I was not disappointed. The Elf Tangent is a fun fantasy romp with light romance, a clever protagonist, nasty magical monsters, epic sword fights, and epic math problems. Aldari is a compelling heroine: not just smart, but also empathetic and loyal. I love the banter between Aldari and the elven mercenary Hawk, and between Aldari and her own bodyguard, Theli. (Theli is a delight, too. She loves murder mysteries and writes ballads in her spare time.) Hawk is a bit of a mystery at first, but his motivations soon become clear. You can’t really blame him for being so desperate as to kidnap Aldari. And his interactions with fellow elven mercenary Setvik are equal parts hilarious and frightening.
While magic plays an important role in the story, spirituality only appears a few times, but will still be of interest to Pagan/polytheist readers. Many people in Delantria honor the One God, but other deities are recognized; there is no indication of religious oppression. The elves traditionally honor a pantheon of four Deities: the Hunter, the Crafter, the Mother, and the Forager. As a mostly peaceful society centered around magic, art, engineering, and the wilderness, the elves had no use for warrior Deities.
If I have one complaint — and it’s relatively minor — it is that the last chapter felt rushed. A few more pages would have stretched out the denouement just a bit more, instead of pushing everything together.
The Elf Tangent is technically a stand-alone novel, but Buroker has hinted that she may return to this world in future stories. I look forward to it.
Recommended to fans of Buroker’s other books, as well as fans of Shari L. Tapscott’s Crown and Crest series, the Lady Diviner series by Rosalie Oaks, In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens, the Extraordinaries series by Melissa McShane, and Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis.
[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]