I’m a long-time fan of Elaine Cunningham’s writing. Most of her Forgotten Realms books have been translated in Finnish so I’ve often read both the original and the translation. I’ve also reviewed the translated books for a Finnish fanzine. Those reviews are not on-line so I decided to rewrite them in English. Originally, I read the Song and Swords books when they were part of the multipart Harpers-books. 

Elfsong is the second book in the Song and Swords series and my favorite of the five books. While the first book, Elfshadow, introduced Arilyn Moonblade and Danilo Thann and explored the start of their friendship and possible romance, this book doesn’t have Arilyn but concentrates on Danilo and the rouge elf Elaith Craulnober.

Danilo Thann is one of Harpers’ most secret agents. While most of their agents seem to be either openly Harper-agents or a public secret rather than an actual secret agent, Danilo has a cover role as an absentminded and foolish bard. In reality, he’s a sharp student of people and a capable mage. The Harpers are a semi-secret society which has dedicated their lives to stopping evil people from harming others. 

The story starts with a bitter half-elf bard who has a long-standing grudge against the Harpers. She gets a powerful magical harp and uses its power to change the old songs and to lure young Harpers to their deaths. Danilo takes it upon himself to right things. On the way he bumps into Elaith and his band of mercenaries who are after the magical harp. Danilo and Elaith decide to work together for the time being but can they really trust each other…?

The secondary characters are just as delightful and interesting as the main characters. Danilo’s uncle Kelben Blackstaff runs things in his aloof way and matches Danilo with Morgalla the Mirthful a female dwarf who really wants to become a bard and an gold elf minstrel Wyn Ashwood.

Elfsong combines humor, magic and music in a way that uses the Forgotten Realms setting very well. There are also plenty of mysteries and riddles, furious rivalry, ribald songs, witty discussion, and mayhem of all kind. The pace is very fast and enjoyable.