The Elvenbane

~ 1st Novel in the Elvenbane Series by Andre Norton

(Series aka) Halfblood Chronicles

Written with Mercedes Lackey



Synopsis ~

Shana, a halfbreed born of the forbidden union of an Elvenlord father and a human mother. Her exiled mother dead, she was rescued and raised by dragons, a proud, ancient race who existed unbeknownst to elven or humankind. From birth, Shana was the embodiment of the Prophecy that the all-powerful Elvenlords feared. Her destiny is the enthralling adventure of a lifetime.

fatherdragonFather Dragon ~ By Larry Dixon ~ Frontispiece in The Elvenbane by TOR


Write-up from the front flap of the 1991 dustjacket ~

The world was run by the elvenlords. Powerful, proud, secure in their dominion over the puny humans and halfbreeds, they built cities of wondrous beauty, kept legions of slaves for work and entertainment, and took their pleasure with Elven or human concubines. The Prophecy was the only cloud on an otherwise perfectly clear horizon of Elven supremacy.
In the desert, Serina Daeth, formerly the favored human concubine of Elven overlord Dyran, is about to change all that. Driven into the desert when her lord discovered her pregnancy, as planned by a jealous rival who tampered with Serina’s anti-fertility drugs, she dreams—as she dies—of a midwife helping to deliver her baby. She doesn’t realize her dream is the dragon shaman Alara, shape changed to provide the mercy of midwifery as a human.
Alara, herself about to give birth, takes pity on the babe and with her son, Keman, raises the girl, Shana. Father Dragon, the wisest shaman of the dragons, can tell the halfbreed is more than a mere pest in their midst. She is the most dangerous and treasured person, the fulfillment of the Prophecy, whose magic and fortunes will remake the world. Shana, full of her own bright dreams of the future little realizes the love, betrayal, wizardry and adventure that lie ahead for her and those who become part of her extraordinary life. For her story is legend, the true myth and history of the Elvenbane.


Write-up from the back of the TOR paperback edition ~

Two masters of epic fantasy have combined in this brilliant collaboration to create a rousing tale of the sort that becomes an instant favorite. This is the story of Shana, a halfbreed born of the forbidden union of an Elvenlord father with a human mother. Her exiled mother dead, she was rescued and raised by dragons, a proud, ancient race who existed unbeknownst to elven or humankind. From birth, Shana was the embodiment of the Prophecy that all-powerful Elvenlords feared. Her destiny is the enthralling adventure of a lifetime.
“A brisk, glittering yarn that packs as much action, suspense, and twisting of conventions into one novel as many writers invest in whole trilogies.” – Amazing Stories


Write-up from the back of the Voyager UK paperback edition ~

Elvenbane: The Prophecy is about to be fulfilled
There will come a child. One born of human mother but fathered by the demons, possessed of magic more powerful that the elven lords! The Child shall be hunted before its birth, yet shall escape the hunt and will rise up against the masters and cast them into the lowest hell…
The world is run by elvenlords. Powerful, proud and secure in their dominion keep legions of human slaves for work and take their pleasure in elven or human concubines. The breeding of halfbreeds is strickly forbidden. Then Serina Daeth – the favoured human concubine of the elven overlord Dryan – finds herself pregnant.
Forced to flee into the desert, Serina dreams – as she dies – of a midwife delivering her baby, Shana; the midwife is in fact the shapechanging dragon – shaman Alara.
But Shana is no ordinary child: raised by the dragons, she is destined to become the Elvenbane.


Write-ups from fans ~

In a world where cruel Elves rule over enslaved humans, an Elven Lord takes the most beautiful human women as his concubines, preferring their desperate eagerness to please over his Elven Lady's indifference.  Since human-elf crossbreeds usually have more and more-varied magical powers than the Elves, such crossbreeds are to be destroyed when discovered.  To prevent such crossbreeding, the Elven Lords feed their human concubines contraceptives regularly.  One such concubine, through the machinations of a jealous harem inmate, becomes pregnant.  Before her Lord can kill her, she escapes to the desert, where she encounters a dragon, gives birth and dies.  The dragon, a pregnant female herself, takes the human child back to her Liar for her other (male dragon) child to rear.  As the girl child grows, she grows into her Power, until the other dragons of the Liar feel she has become a threat to them, and they banish her to the desert, where she is captured by slaves to the Elf Lord who fathered her.  But an underground organization of half-bloods rescues her, shelters her, and teaches her more about the Power, until the day her "noisy" magic betrays them all to the Elves.  Then the Half-blood Wars start all over again. ~ SL


Andre and Mercedes showed off their world-building talents in this one. Firstly, the world has humans as its native race. Several hundred years ago, Elves came through a gate seeking a world to conquer and DRAGONS (The Kin) came through fleeing perils of their homeworld. While the dragons hid, the Elvenlords who possessed all kinds of powerful magic enslaved the humans. The humans whose magic consisted of mind-reading and telepathic communications had no choice in the matter, as the elves made collars to block the humans' talents. The elves learned that when elves mated with humans, these "halfbloods" later called "Wizards" often gained the powers of both races and could be more powerful than the elves. Naturally, the Elvenlords, who couldn't tolerate anyone with more power outlawed crossbreeding and decreed that any Halfblood along with its mother should be killed on sight. Meanwhile, the dragons, who couldn't stand how the elves ran rough-shod over the ecology causing all kinds of environmental mayhem, decided to meddle. Among the dragons' talents was shapeshifting. The more adept could assume just about any form or size. Disguised as elves or humans, they conjured up the Prophesy of "The Elvenbane", a Halfblood who would defeat the elves. 400 years ago, some wizards almost defeated the Elvenlords, but were betrayed to their doom.
Now we come to the present. Unbeknownst to Lord Dryan (the most powerful Elf-lord), his favorite human concubine is about to give birth to a Halfblood. She runs away and dies at a desert oasis where she gives birth to a baby, an event witnessed by Alara, a pregnant dragon who is a shaman to her lair. She takes the baby girl, Shana home and raises her alongside of her son Keman. As time goes by, she gains in knowledge and strength of her magical heritage. When her foster brother is attacked by a bully, Shara uses powerful magic to protect him. This scares the rest of the Lair, and they banish Shara and puts her at the oasis where she was born. She is confused, she had never seen a human or an elf. She almost dies before she is rescued by a traveling caravan. Just before her identity is exposed, a couple of wizards steal her and take her to their stronghold where she learns more history and a lot more magic, and they learn how powerful she can be. Meanwhile, Keman, missing his foster sister leaves the Lair in search of her. When the wizards steal a dozen human slaves (to save their lives), the Elvenlords go on the warpath. Lots of fun and mayhem. Once you get past the flashbacks of the first two chapters, it gets exciting. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Sept. 1st, 1991
A collaborative effort from fantasy grande dame Norton and relative newcomer Lackey (the paperback Magic's Price), this tale of magic and intrigue offers a mixture of standard genre elements and an engaging plot. When Serina Daeth, favorite concubine of the Elf-Lord Dyran, conceives a half-blood child by him, she flees his wrath into the desert, where she quickly succumbs. But the child, born in Serina's dying moments, is rescued by a friendly dragon and raised with her own draconic brood. As the child Shana grows, she develops prodigious sorcerous powers--so strong that it seems she might be the fabled Elvenbane, powerful enough to free the enslaved humans from their elven oppressors. The dragons come to fear her unplumbed power, though, and cast her out. With a renegade elf-lord and his half-blood servant, and the aid of her remaining dragon friends, Shana prepares to challenge the elfish supremacy. Though battle is joined, a sequel is plainly on the way. Thoroughly rooted in genre traditions--with elves, dragons, unicorns, and sorcerers--but some variations make it more enjoyable than the average example: theses elves and unicorns, for instance, are cruel and dangerous, where in most fantasies they are shining examples of superhuman purity. Overall, then, despite shallow characters and a lack of real tension (we never doubt that Shana and friends will succeed), an entertaining adventure. 


Booklist Review ~ Oct. 15, 1991

Two mistresses of high fantasy join forces to considerable effect. In a world ruled by some of the most brutal and tyrannical elves ever encountered, the most persecuted are the part-human, part-elven halfbloods. After her human mother is cast into the desert, the bastard daughter of the powerful Lord Dyran survives and is raised by dragons to seek her destiny as the Elvenbane. This is a well-told tale in all respects, rather as one might expect from the authors. Recommended for the majority of fantasy collections.— Roland Green


Review by Publishers Weekly ~ Nov. 04, 1991

SF master Norton ( The Crystal Gryphon and the Witch World series) and her new collaborator Lackey ( Arrows of the Queen and subsequent volumes of the Valdemar series) have produced a fine coming-of-age adventure in which a decadent elven society maintains a cruel, avaricious control over the shattered remnants of humanity while shape-changing dragons covertly observe. Pregnant with a half-breed child, a human concubine of the almost immortal elven Lord Dyran flees into the desert to avoid death. She is found by the dragon Alara, a shaman herself heavy with egg. Although the concubine dies, Alara saves the child Shana and brings her home to foster with her own son Keman. When Shana reaches adulthood and is cast out by conservative dragons, she learns the extent of her magical abilities. Aided by Keman and her full-elven half-brother, Dyran's heir, she leads a revolt by the other hidden half-breeds against the tyranny of the elves. With excellent evocations of dragon lore and society, this tale will rank as one of the season's liveliest and most appealing fantasy epics.


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1991 by Carolyn Cushman in Locus #368, September
1991 by John C. Bunnell in Amazing Stories, November
1991 by Wendy Bradley in Interzone #54, December


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

Dedicated To:
The Fans
Past, Present and Future


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1991) Published by TOR, HC, 0-312-85106-5, $19.95, 390pg ~ cover by Boris Vallejo {Blue Paper Boards}
  • (1991) Published by SFBC, HC, # 18844, $9.98, 390pg ~ cover by Boris Vallejo - Reprinted in 2003 as #52417 $10.99
  • (1991) Published by TOR, TP, 0-312-85106-5, LCCN 91021177, 390pg ~ cover by Boris Vallejo
  • (1993) Published by TOR, PB, 0-812-51171-1, LCCN 91-021177, $5.99, 566pg ~ cover by Boris Vallejo ~ Reprinted in 1995 with same numbers ~ Reprinted in 2002 @ $7.99.
  • (1993) Published by Grafton, PB, 0-586-21687-1, £4.99, 575pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Mark Salwowski
  • (1995) Published by Voyager - HarperCollins, PB, 0-586-21687-1, £5.99, 575pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Mark Salwowski
  • (2004) Published by Demco Media, HC, 0-606-29787-1, $14.39 ~ cover by Boris Vallejo ~ "Turtleback" library binding.
  • (2011) Created by Brilliance Audio, Audible, length 18hrs & 48mins, $25.99 ~ narrated by Aasne Vigesaa


Non-English Editions ~

  • (2003) Combined with "Elvenblood" and "Elvenborn" ~ Published in Sofia, Bulgaria; 9548826658, PB, ~ Bulgarian title Проклятието на елфите [Curse of the Elves]
  • (1996) Published in Plzeň, Czech Republic; by Mustang, PB, 80-7191-114-3, 475pg ~ cover by Boris Vallejo ~ translation by Dana Burianová ~ Czech title Elvenbane
  • (1993) Published in Poznań, Poland; by Rebis, 83-712-0027-7, 404pg ~ translation by Dorota Żywno ~ cover by Mark Salwowski ~ Polish title Zguba Elfów [Bane Elves]
  • (2000) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-040-04537-9, HC, 576pg ~ translation by O. Stepashkina ~ cover by Dubovik ~ Russian title Проклятие эльфов [Curse of the Elves]
  • (2004) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-07495-3, PB, 576pg ~ translation by O. Stepashkina ~ cover by Boris Vallejo ~ Russian title Проклятие эльфов [Curse of the Elves]


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (2002) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo and St. Petersburg, by Valerie SPD, 5-699-00840-3 and 5-814-20112-6, HC, 928pg ~ cover by Boris Vallejo ~ Russian title Эльфийская дилогия [Elven Dilogy] ~ Limited to 8000 copies


    • "The Elvenbane" as "The Curse of the Elves" ~ translation by O. Stepashkina, pp. 7-570
    • "Elvenblood" as "Elven Spawn" ~ translation by A. Khromova, p. 571-926


  • (2007) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-20513-6, HC, 1248pg ~ cover by Boris Vallejo ~ Russian title Эльфийская трилогия [Elven Trilogy]


    • "The Elvenbane" as "The Curse of the Elves" ~ translation by O. Stepashkina, pp. 5-492
    • "Elvenblood" as "Elven Spawn" ~ translation by A. Khromova, pp. 493-796
    • "Elvenborn" as"Elven Lord" ~ translation by O. Stepashkina, pp. 797-1242


Ukrainian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (2017) Published in Kyiv, Ukraine by Globe (Fanzine) ~ cover by Boris Vallejo ~ Ukrainian title Эльфийская трилогия [Elven Trilogy] ~ Limited to 10 copies?


    • "The Elvenbane" as "The Curse of the Elves" ~ translation by O. Stepashkina
    • "Elvenblood" as "Elven Spawn" ~ translation by A. Khromova
    • "Elvenborn" as"Elven Lord" ~ translation by O. Stepashkina

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