Spelunking for Svartelves

I have read The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker in October, and liked it enough to review it and give another one of her books a try.  Torrent is the first book in her Rust & Relics series, an urban fantasy series with a couple deft twists.

Delia is an archeologist because she fell in love with Indiana Jones stories, but with sixty thousand in student loans she’s reduced to antique-hunting in the American Southwest.  When she runs into evidence of a monster, and equipment starts disappearing, things get interesting.

I do not love the characters in Torrent as well as those from Emperor’s Edge, but the semi-steampunk world supported brighter exaggerations than a story set in the modern world.  The characters are a lot of fun anyway.  Delia the archeologist is smart, well-educated, and not above a wry sense of humility because of the difference between her idealized life and the reality of post-graduate living with an archeology degree.  I love that she still has enough of the dreamer in her to carry her bull whip and wear the hat.  Her sidekick and ubiquitous tech geek Simon is a bestie from college, and there are great character touches like shared MMORPG’s and long-running jokes.  Simon is always ready to frame the situation in nerd-specific frames of reference.  Her cousin Artemis the failed athlete completes a troika of dynamic protagonists.  I will give Mrs. Buroker props for tightening up her characterization, because the smaller the list of characters the more each character has to pull its weight.

The monster is well-made, and the encounters with it progress logically with increasing scope and menace.  The mysterious strangers show up early and serve as part obstacle, part hope as events get closer and closer to the conclusion.

Mrs. Buroker is not Willa Cather, but her adventure is well-set in the American Southwest, and for those of us who have walked across the rust-colored rocks and felt the heat sink into our bones Buroker’s prose summons up an interesting and diverse series of landscapes to explore above and below the ground.

This is clearly the first book in a series.  Buroker has devised a clever mythology and pulls the veils away one strip at a time with nice progression and logical consistency.  I really enjoyed a mixture of high technology and ancient mythology that waited at the end of the bunny trail.

The final quarter of the book was an engaging action series, but it could have been a little bit louder if it were a stand-alone novel.  As the first part of the series the story stands well enough on its own so long as we know that more is coming.

As a Christian I found a lot to like about this story.  The characters play fast and loose with some laws, but I enjoyed their loyalty, their obvious affection for one another, and an emphasis the story places on how decisions and relationships of the past have an ongoing impact on how we view and choose relationships in the present.  I do not hold with the family-values priorities that pick and choose which commandments to freak out about, so I cannot say that the story is super-moral because the characters lie and steal instead of screwing around or being attracted to the wrong person.  But it is engaging.  Characters risk themselves professionally and physically for one another.  There is true courage and dedication here, as well as some deft human touches on vulnerability and coping with the injuries and disappointments of life.

The final quarter of the book was an engaging action series, but it could have been a little bit louder if it were a stand-alone novel.  As the first part of the series the story stands well enough on its own so long as we know that more is coming.

And yes, Mrs. Buroker, I want more.

Recommended.

2 thoughts on “Spelunking for Svartelves

  1. Ahhhhhh I haven’t gotten to this one yet!! Excited to check it out. Have you looked at her Encrypted series at all yet? I read the first — pretty good — but EE is still my favorite. 🙂

    • I haven’t checked out the Encrypted series yet, but one of my WIPs is a multi-dimensionall world build so I’m interested in more of her work before I write “shatter point”

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