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Reviews of 'Sanctuary'

Sanctuary

by Tonya C. Cook & Paul B. Thompson
Elven Exiles, Volume 1


Reviews of 'Sanctuary'

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Reviewer: BeezerMN

Rating: Stars

Sanctuary is the latest novel by Thompson and Cook set in the Dragonlance world. Before you go any farther, if you are considering reading this book there are two books that I think you need to read before you read this one. The first is The Puppet King by Doug Niles and the second is The Lioness by Nancy Berberick. These two books set the stage for this new trilogy.

On to Sanctuary.

Being this is the first book in the trilogy, it has what one would expect. There is a lot of background information setting up the story and the major players of the story. The background information also allows the reader to have a pretty good idea of what has happened thus far, but if you don't read the two books I mentioned above first, you will lose the true scope of what has happened. You will still be able to understand this book, but it won't be as enjoyable for you.

The plot is pretty straight forward in that the elves are trying to find a new homeland to call their own while at the same time trying to keep their race alive and flourishing. However, what looks on the surface as a straight-forward plot, soon turns into several small subplots each with the potential to affect the main plot. The authors proved they could do this type of plot with the Ergoth trilogy, and once again they prove apt at doing so here. There are several plots running through this story that at times the reader may 'misplace' a character only to have them appear and shock you with what they are doing.

When I first learned that the book would center on the elf king Gil and his wife the Lioness, I was a little apprehensive that these characters had been written by other authors and how would that affect the characters continuity. Those fears were quickly resolved as the authors made these characters their own, without 'stepping on the toes of the previous authors'. Since the characters had been written about before, the character development is a little slow. This book is obviously story line driven. However, by the end of the book I can see a lot of potential for the next two books to begin to focus more heavily on the characters. That's not to say that there was no character development, just not as much as in standalone novels or novels that are more character driven.

The authors prove that they were n fact the right people to tap for this story line. Just by reading the first book I can tell this story line will have some dynamic consequences all across the land of Krynn, Thompson and Cook were certainly the right couple to do this trilogy.

As always it's time for my recommendation. As I said in the opening if you haven't read those other two books I may hold off on this one. If you have read those other two, have no fear of jumping right into this one. This is a very good book to what may prove to be a Krynn-shattering trilogy. I didn't like this book as much as the Ergoth trilogy, but I loved the Ergoth trilogy so that is a high level to live up to. Nevertheless, I say read this book if you are a fan of the Dragonlance world. You won't be disappointed.


Reviewer: Malarick

Rating: Stars

I am quite shocked that this book received such a middle of the road score in the other review.

I would just like to express how enjoyable this book is to read.

Thompson and Cook are the masters of detailing places which we have not read about previously. Here we are presented with another culture (the nomadics tribes of Khur), and I am pleased that someone can inject something new into such a long running setting as Dragonlance, and make it feel new.

Again Paul and Tonya do not hold back describing these places, from the souks of Khuri-Khan to the lavish palace of Sahim-Khan, through the seemingly endless deserts and to the eerie Valley of Blue Sands. All of the time making them seem believable and three dimensional.

I do like how the writers reference their own past material, with little nods to Ergoth or Elven Nations. An example of this is introducing an elven character called Ambrodel, who is a decendant of the Ambrodel from the Elven Nations trilogy.

There in an intriguing elven wizard in this story, and is a character I often found myself wanting to read more and more about. He is not your stereotypical elf, and does not consider himself belonging any of the Elven races, but considers himself "a nation of one."

I really enjoy the way both these writers tell a story. Like for Tol (in the Ergoth trilogy), things do not always run smooth and by the end of the book all may seem lost for the Elves. I do have faith, though, in Thompson and Cook and I believe they will give us a trilogy to look back on with satisfaction.

The book does have its flaws, however the good far outweighs the bad.

Give this series a chance!

This book had me captivated from the start, and is another great tale brought to us by two great story tellers.


Reviewer: Paul Record

Rating: Stars

The exile of the elves from their homeland is a tragedy of the Age of Mortals. It began at the end of the War of Souls.

Many fans know the Lioness, Kerianseray. Irrepressibly bold, loyal, passionate, she is the General of the Elven Army and honorable warrior of the Kagonesti elves. Her husband and king, is Gilthas Pathfinder, thoughtful and gentle, the Speaker of the Sun and Stars, but hotheaded Kerianseray, bold and clever, is held in higher regard by the military. She does not dwell much on politics, tact or thinking—she's a warrior! There are too many important things on her mind, like war, her culture, riding her griffon, the Nerakans, the Khurs and the damnable Minotaurs. Her marriage is not a priority, although her husband is very concerned for her. He knows she is hot headed, that her spirit has "fire." Of course, she loves her husband, fellow soldiers, and elves, but like most firebrands, she jumps from one to the other. She adores Eagle Eye, her Silvanesti War Griffon, who is a loyal friend, willing to travel to any length to be with Kerianseray.

The book begins with Kerianseray and the elven army returning from a failed attack on Silvanesti. Elves fought for liberation and were killed for idealism. Minotaurs take up arms and give chase, harassing the elves as they flee. They capture Kerianseray and declare to her that Silvanesti is no longer elven land. The Minotaurs send her hog tied on the back of her beloved griffon to Khurinost, the elven tent city outside of Khuri-khan as a warning: do not return.

The elven speaker responded with a logical plan: locate a new, safe place for the elves to grow in strength and prosper. He chose the Valley of Blue Sands, sacred to the Khurs for an age. The Lioness is chosen to lead an expedition to the Valley and if possible, set the stage for the Elves to migrate there.

Khuri-Khan is officially the home of the Khan of All of Khur, Sahim-Khan, and a member of the Khur tribe, although he is more concerned for steel than clan or national loyalty. This angers the nomads of the desert wastes. It is not enough that the Khan says the elves can stay in Khur they want "purity." Khur is their land and the elves have no place in it.

The plotting of the Nerakans and an ancient elven wizard, tie the plots of the elves together with the Khurs. As their schemes progress, elven and khurish innocents are brutally attacked, violated and mislead by the idealism of the Lioness—General of the Elven Army.

At the end of the book, the elves arrive at the Valley of Blue Sands. An empty and fell place but before it can be fully explored life only gets worse. Nomad fanatics attack and wound the Speaker of the Sun and Stars. Anyone alive during this time knows just how terrible things are going to get for the elves in the next book.

If I were giving stars, I would give 2.5 out of 5. I had trouble swallowing the actions of the Lioness. Too bad Gilthas waited until the end of the book to correct them.

One personal quibble, the herald scene from a Knights Tale that Paul Bettanys character was famous for did not need repeating in this novel (fans of that movie will know what I am talking about). I just cannot believe that the elves would behave this way. Humans I could see; but these are elves.


Reviewer: Trampas Whiteman

Rating: Stars

Sanctuary begins the Elven Exiles trilogy, which tells the tale of the elves after the War of Souls. The elven nations, now in exile, have traversed the desert in search of a promised land. Sound a little like the book of Exodus from the Bible? You may be right, but that's about where the similarities end.

The elven people have established a new home in a tent city called Khurinsot on the outskirts of Khuri-Khan. Word reaches Gilthas Pathfinder (like the title/surname!) about the Valley of the Blue Sands, an ancient valley that might serve as a new homeland for the elves. Gilthas sends his wife, the Lioness, to the Valley with an expedition to ascertain what lies there. Unfortunately for the elves, the Khurish nomads consider the valley to be a sacred place of Those on High.

Sanctuary is not your typical fantasy book with companions on a grand quest. Rather, it comes across as a history in the making. Sanctuary is a very political book, so fans of political machinations will get a kick out of it. I'm not sure if it has a wide appeal because of that, though. There are lots of names to remember, with more being introduced even through the end.

You get everybody's point of view, which provides a lot of insight. One of the highlights for me is seeing the point of view of the nomads. While they come across as villains, they're really just a deeply spiritual people who feel that their lands have been invaded by a foreign presence. They are, in their way, only seeking justice for what they feel are wrongs enacted against them by the elves.

The leader of the nomads is an old woman who is a cleric of Those on High (specifically Sargonnas, I believe). She leads the nomads in their holy purpose against the elves, massing a large force in the process. I thought she was a great character, especially with her quirk of always looking to mend clothes. She comes across as any other woman until Those on High have need of her. I felt that her character lacked a little at the end when she started showing self-doubts, which I thought was a bit uncharacteristic for her.

Most of the other characters were good too. The Lioness especially caught my interest, especially with the divide between her and Gilthas. Gilthas knows that fighting a war to reclaim either elven homeland would be disastrous, while the Lioness feels that remaining where they are would also bring doom. She does not believe that the elves should look for a new home when they already have one. The Valley of the Blue Sands becomes the dividing point between the two, causing the Lioness to delve into reckless abandon. In the end, it causes Gilthas to make some tough decisions that cause conflict within between the part of him that is husband, and the part that is the Speaker of the Sun and Stars.

Another of my favorite characters was the archivist, Favaranos. It's neat seeing a character who isn't a warrior or spellcaster. He's just an archivist, though his findings provide him with extra charm.

Sahim-Khan, son of Salah (nice nod there), proves to be an extortionist of sorts where the elves are concerned, yet he shows his own brand of honor. Contrary to his character is that of his son, Prince Shobbat, who proves to be more of a schemer than anyone gives him credit for. The sorcerer Faeterus also schemes within Khuri-Khan, though his motivations are a bit hazy at this time.

I particularly liked Lord Hengriff, the Nerakan ambassador. I'm surprised he was a Lily Knight rather than a Skull Knight since the Skull Knights are the ambassadors of the Knights of Neraka. I'm a little surprised that there was no mention of Saraele Mellivaene, the half-elf Dark Knight ambassador to Khur from Heroes of Hope. I think her elven ancestry and dislike of the elven people would have made a great dynamic.

The portrayal of the gods was a bit off-the-top, especially with Adala asking the gods to show her a sign. Still, the description of the weather patterns at the end is a nice effect.

The land of Khur is portrayed very nicely, having an Arabian feel without overdoing it and keeping it all Dragonlance. My primary complaint, though, is the presentation of the Mikku tribe. Rather than the gypsy-like nomads presented in Key of Destiny, they are portrayed as warriors.

Likewise, the book had another inconsistency in that it mentioned the Maelstrom, which has not been seen on Krynn since the Chaos War. I'm assuming this was an innocent mistake, though it could be that the Dark Disciple trilogy has ramifications that we're unaware of yet. Even if that were so, I would think that a bigger deal would have been made of it.

The writing style isn't bad, but it's a bit different than most. While most books would, for example, have interaction between characters, Sanctuary goes back and forth between conversation and narration. I find that to be a little difficult to follow.

Overall, I found Sanctuary to be a good book, though not a great one. If you like political intrigue, you will like this book. If you prefer a standard fantasy quest, this book may not be for you. Some minor inconsistencies may cause minor distractions, but they aren't enough to affect one's enjoyment, as Lord of the Rose was with its presentation of the three orders of the Knights of Solamnia. Be warned, though, that there are a lot of names to keep track of. Overall, not a bad read.


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