The actual plot of the book, which is set in 2021, involves Special Agent Lila Black, who works for the intelligence and reconnaissance division of the Otopian National Security Agency.
Following a horrific ordeal on Alfheim, Lila
was declared dead to her
family and friends, and reconstructed into a cyborg super agent.
is your typical tough girl action heroine, but she's
far from comfortable with her
new abilities and still dealing with the psychological fallout of the incident on Alfheim.
She's assigned as an undercover bodyguard to Zal, the lead singer of The No Shows, the latest rock sensation.
Zal, once a Prince of Alfheim, is now a renegade from his
own culture, whose unapologetically unorthodox ways are threatening both the stability of Elvish society and also the uneasy truce between the Realms.
The first portion of the book is spent introducing Lila
and Zal - she's
angsty and insecure, but understandably so, and he's
petulant and uncooperative, but attractively so - and establishing the foundations of their relationship.
But then the action kicks off, various attempts are made on Zal's life, and the focus shifts to Alfheim for the inevitable showdowns and revelations.
I responded to Zal and Lila
because of the resonance of their archetypes, rather than to them as individuals.
Zal wasn't really in it enough for to me genuinely warm to him (although Elvish rockstar, Elvish rockstar, yes please!) and his
moody rockstar act does grate a little at the beginning.
comes across better, but then she
is the primary POV; she's
a well-judged mix of strength and vulnerability, machine power and human baggage.
actions and responses are plausible, and it's a real pleasure to watch her
grow to a better understanding of elves and herself over the course of the novel.
flaws are real flaws, and some of them lead her
to make mistakes that have genuine consequences.
This works beautifully to illuminate her
moments of heroism and nobility since we also see her
mess things up and react badly, and it also serves to fashion her
as a real person, not just a sexy cyberchick tough girl stereotype.
is that, too.
Very sexy I mean.
I also loved Robson's elf culture: it's detailed and complicated and alien and, since it's only partially understood by Lila
, it retains its mystery to the reader.