|Never Trust An Elf|
|Cover art||Keith Birdsong|
Never Trust An Elf is a Shadowrun novel by Robert Charrette.
- WHO UNDERSTANDS THE WAYS OF ELVES AND DRAGONS?
Some say that the dragons are the most powerful beings on Earth. Certain elves disagree with that belief in the strongest, most violent terms.
Drawn into a dangerous game of political and magical confrontation, Kham not only learns to never deal with a dragon--he also discovers that trusting an elf may leave you dead....
Warning: Spoiler Information Below
Kham the ork and Neko Noguchi, two minor characters from the Secrets of Power trilogy, take center stage in this book. After being hired by a pair of elves to unearth a powerful and ancient magical artifact, Kham decides to pursue the secret of elven immortality. It's not all he hoped it would be, and Kham becomes a pawn in a vicious game between an ambitious elven magician and the world's most manipulative dragon.
Detailed plot summaryEdit
Urdli, an ancient immortal elf, and Glasgian Oakforest, an elf born in the present era, form an uneasy alliance. Together, they capture and torture an agent of the Great Dragon Lofwyr to discover the location of a powerful artifact, more than fifty thousand years old.
Part 1: Easy MoneyEdit
Kham and his crew have been out of work lately, and money is tight. So when a job offer comes along for some heavy muscle, Kham isn't inclined to ask too many questions. Glasgian and Urdli work through a local elf fixer who hires additional muscle to fill out the team, including shadowrunner Neko Noguchi. Neko is a plant, brought from Hong Kong for the purpuse by Enterich, a representative of the Saeder-Krupp corporation and its master, the Great Dragon Lofwyr.
The run goes smoothly enough. Urdli and Glasgian remove a magical artifact made of crystal from a cave on Salish-Sidhe Council lands outside the sprawl. The ritual magics they use to accomplish the theft attract attention from paranormal animals in the area, for which they needed the heavy fire support. The critters are dealt with and the object achieved. Mission accomplished, everyone goes home. Easy money.
Of course, shadowruns are rarely that simple.
Part 2: The Weight of TimeEdit
Dodger and Sean Laverty arrive in Puyallup to warn Kham and Neko that those involved in the shadowrun are being eliminated. Nearly too late—they are still present when a team of mercenaries attacks the hall, killing several of Kham's people. Neko, Kham, and the other survivors fake their own deaths in the resulting building fire and go into hiding in the Ork Underground.
Kham becomes aware that elves—some elves at least—live unually long lives, and may in fact be immortal. Intrigued by the possibility, Neko helps Kham investigate the truth of elven immortality. Eventually, they are satisfied that certain elves (Laverty and Urdli, specifically) have been around for a very long time indeed.
Disillusioned and bitter over the short span of years allotted to orks, Kham chooses to believe that elves have some secret magic that they can be forced to share, that can similarly extend the lives of orks and other metatypes. He believes that the recent shadowrun is related to this secret of immortality, and that the elves are willing to kill to protect it.
He is wrong.
Part 3: Harness the TalentedEdit
Kham leads a shadowrun on Andalusian Light Industries complex in Tacoma, where Glasgian is keeping the crystal artifact. During the shadowrun, they encounter three heavily cybered "hellions" after the same objective. Luck and unwitting help from Andalusian security allows Kham's team to escape with the crystal.
Their success is short-lived. They are soon caught by the hellions and other security forces of Saeder-Krupp, led by Enterich, who relieve them of the crystal and depart. Shortly afterward Glasgian arrives, persuades Kham that it is a Bad Thing to leave the artifact in Lofwyr's talons, and enlists his aid in recovering it. As soon as they do so, Glasgian bonds the crystal to himself and flies off, leaving Kham and his team to be re-captured by Enterich.
Lofwyr himself convinces Kham that the crystal is an artifact of dragon magic, not elven, and that Glasgian's abuse of its power could have cataclysmic consequences. Following clues left by Glasgian, Kham's team and the hellions pursue the elf out of the sprawl and into Salish-Sidhe territory. They find Glasgian happily breaking dragon eggs. In the ensuing battle, Kham destroys the crystal artifact, depriving Glasgian of his power and whatever sanity he had to begin with.
Tired of dancing to other people's whims, Kham resolves never again to be anyone's puppet.
In order of appearance:
In order of appearance:
- Kern*: executive for Saeder-Krupp
- Walter Urdli: aboriginal Australian immortal elf, mage
- Glasgian Oakforest: elf, mage, Prince Aithne's eldest son and heir, born in 2034
- Kham: ork mercenary leader, sometime member of Sally Tsung's crew
- Lissa: ork, Kham's wife
- Kittle George: elderly ork alcoholic
- Grabber: troll bouncer at Shaver's Bar, small-time fixer
- Jack Darke: Seattle-based shadowrunner
- Kham's followers:
- - John Parker*: ork shadowrunner
- - Rabo: ork shadowrunner, rigger
- - Ratstomper*: female ork shadowrunner
- - Sheila*: female ork shadowrunner
- - Weeze*: female ork shadowrunner
- Neko Noguchi: adept, shadowrunner from Hong Kong
- Enterich: human agent of Lofwyr, possibly Lofwyr himself in human form
- Karen Montejac: white sasquatch shaman, agent of Lofwyr
- Guido*: ork ganger, member of the Black Swords, son of John Parker
- Jord, Tully, & Shandra: Kham's children
- Sally Tsung: human mage, legendary shadowrunner
- Big Tom: sasquatch sound engineer for Club Penumbra
- Jim: bartender at Club Penumbra
- The Twins*: two identical, heavily cybered street samurai
- Greerson: dwarf mercenary from California Free State
- Mr Johnson: elf, front-man for Urdli and Glasgian
- Dodger: elf decker, legendary shadowrunner, Matrix icon is an ebon boy in a silver cloak
- Professor Sean Laverty: immortal elf mage, Prince of Tir Tairngire
- Zip*: over-the-hill shadowrunner, knew Dodger when he was young
- Cog: influential fixer
Adam: ork ganger, leader of the Green Band in the Ork Underground
Scatter: female ork rat shaman, unusually small and ugly
Harry: ork, Kham's grandfather, high in the Ork Underground government
Sarah: ork, Kham's mother, old and senile at thirty-five
Jenny (Chromium): decker, used to work for Hart, her icon is a "biker babe"
Agnes Tsossie: human woman, security manager for Andalusian Light Industries
Madame Guiscadeaux*: Andalusian wage mage, student of Glasgian
Chigger: ork decker, shadowrunner
Ryan*: ork, novice shadowrunner, superstitious
Alpha*: Saeder-Krupp "hellion", heavily cybered, possibly an early cyberzombie
Beta*: Saeder-Krupp "hellion", heavily cybered, possibly an early cyberzombie
Gamma*: Saeder-Krupp "hellion", heavily cybered, possibly an early cyberzombie
Zasshu Chen: dwarf, leases vehicles for questionable uses
Ghost-Who-Walks-Inside: street samurai, legendary shadowrunner
Lofwyr: Great Dragon, owner and CEO of Saeder-Krupp Heavy Industries
* this character dies in the course of the novel.
- Puyallup (Carbonado district)
- Hong Kong (Logan Tower, Magick Matrix)
- Seattle (Club Penumbra)
- The Ork Underground (City Hall, the Mall)
- Tacoma (Andalusian Light Industries)
Notes and analysisEdit
The Tir Tairngire sourcebook came out the year after this novel, which gets a nod on
- page 144:
">>>>>[Talk to Kham the ork about the Tir, then see if you still believe nothing weird's going on between elves and dragons.]<<<<<
- Page 1: "weedeater" is a racial epithet for elf.
Kham lives in the Carbonado district of Puyallup (New Seattle, p. 70). Some low-level local gangs include the Hotbloods, Ironmongers (dwarf), and Black Swords (ork). Many Carbonado orks live together in communal "halls", after the fashion of early Viking longhouses (p. 36).
- Page 84: "The cyberboys stepped away from the group, each plugging one end of a double-ended datacord into a jack on his temple, linking for a private conference." With a datajack and a transducer, anyone can do this (Man & Machine: Cyberware, p. 19).
- Page 96: Being immortal doesn't make one invulnerable. The attack on Kham's hall takes Laverty by surprise. Even assuming he was using a Detect Enemies spell, it wouldn't have worked because the attack was not directed at him, but at the orks in the building. It takes four assault rifles on full automatic to overwhelm his magical defenses. Laverty was only injured in the attack, but he might easily have been killed.
Why would Sean Laverty deliver a warning in person when it would have been easier, safer, and more efficient to send someone else? It served no practical purpose. He didn't need or want anything from Kham. He asked no questions, made no offers of assistance or employment. Basically, he just delivered a warning, fielded some stupid questions, and got shot at.
People who are born human but goblinize into an ork or troll still live out a normal human lifespan (average 75 years). People who are born ork or troll live the lifespan allotted to that metatype (average 50 years for a troll, 35–40 years for an ork). Kham's grandfather, Harry, was born before the turn of the century and "went ork" on Goblinization Day (30 April 2021). In his sixities, he's still reasonably vigorous. His daughter Sarah (Kham's mother), born ork, is decrepit and senile at thirty-five.
- Page 142: Neko pays a decker to assemble a sparse file on Dodger. He barely has time to read it before the file crashes. Morgan (the AI from the Secrets of Power trilogy) routinely destroys all reference to Dodger or Sam Verner in the Matrix, either personally or through some form of AI metavirus.
- Page 149: The Xavier Foundation was founded in the late twentieth century by Sean Laverty as an orphanage/boarding school for "special children". These were, in fact, "spike baby" elves, born before the Awakening (Tir Tairngire, p. 50).
- Page 151: Dodger himselfs blocks Jenny and Neko's investigation into Laverty's files, saying, "Sorry, Jenny, even your boss' connections don't get you in here." Dodger is probably referring to Jenny's old employer, Katherine Hart, and Hart's romantic involvement with Dodger's friend Sam Verner.
- Page 152: Jenny says, "The Dodger used to be good. Now he's special." Otaku won't be introduced to shadowrun for a few years yet (Denver: The City of Shadows, 1994), but Dodger seems to fit the profile. Technobabel and Psychotrope imply that an Artificial Intelligence can create otaku.
- Page 153: Andalusian Light Industries is in fact owned by the Oakforest family (Tir Tairngire, p. 81).
- Page 161: Dodger is confronted with names from his past: "Major William Randall and his tragic wife Agelica. Beverly Park. Zip and the Hooligans. The fire at Everett Community College. Ice Eyes Estios. Teresa." Where Neko obtained this information is never explained. Given Morgan's protection, it should be impossible. Dodger admits to being a spike baby. He claims to remember the broadcast about the fall of the Empire State Building in the New York City earthquake (12 August 2005, according to the The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to North America, p. 119), which makes him at least fifty years old.
- Page 168: "A sleek black Euro Westwind stretch limousine waited for them at the curb." Either this is a slip, or the Westwind is both a limousine and a sportscar.
- Page 170: Laverty explains, "There are and always have been places that are foci of magical energy. Even when the mana is strong, it is stronger in such places. At the places, special magics can sometimes be worked. Urdli is Australian, and Australia has many of these focal points. There are only a few left in Europe, places like Stonehenge and an old crypt in Aachen, but the Pacific Northwest has many, which is why Tir Tairngire is situated where it is."
The "old crypt in Aachen" is probably the tomb of Charlemagne, though why that should be a place of power on the level of Stonehenge is beyond me.
- Page 174: Kham pays to have analyzed a splinter from the frame that held the crystal artifact. Radiocarbon dating is inconclusive because all of the measurable carbon-14 in the splinter has decayed to nitrogen-14, implying that the frame is over fifty thousand years old.
It's never explained how Kham learned where Glasgian was keeping the artifact.
Enterich's "hellions" are ludicrously exposed during their shadowrun against Andalusian Light Industries. No magical support, no matrix overwatch, no standby rigger. If they were garden-variety shadowrunners this might be excused, but they're full-bore Saeder-Krupp cyborgs and should have all the covert resources of the megacorp backing them up.
- Page 242: Kham and the others speak to Enterich and Lofwyr on a video screen. This would seem to indicate that Enterich is not Lofwyr in human form, but that the two are separate individuals—unless it is a ruse designed to promote that very idea. Also, Lofwyr speaks telepathically into the minds of his audience, which wouldn't be possible over a telecom. If not actually in the room, he would have to be nearby.
- Page 246: Lofwyr quotes a favorite proverb: Crown the wise, harness the talented, cherish the lucky. It might explain why he appears to go out of his way to indulge the shadowrunners.
- Page 253: "The new order was coming. Glasgian's order. He would be a new Lojan, bestriding the world like a victorious colossus." Later, page 265: "With my magic and your spirit, we will surely conquer. We shall be as Lojan and Yasmundr, mage and indomitable warrior. They will sing our praises forever." So who are Lojan and Yasmunder? Is this an Earthdawn thing?
Glasgian Oakforest admits to being born in the current era (s.8). Public data puts Glasgian's birthday in 2034 (s.143). For an eighteen-year old, Glasgian's pretty full of his "immortal bloodline," and does a good impersonation of a self-absorbed, self-important, paranoid little twit. He literally considers Urdli, a millennia-old immortal elf and phenomenally powerful magician, to be a crusty Australian fossil. He had hopes of using the power of the crystal artifact to "blast away the shadow of his father and to take his rightful place among the rulers of the new order" (p. 158). His father would be Aithne Oakforst, yet another millennia-old immortal elf and phenomenally powerful magician. In short, Glasgian is stupid and fairly unstable. Further evidence: after bonding the crystal, in spite of his ambitions and for no tangible benefit whatsoever, he goes out into the woods and digs up a dragon nest so he can break the eggs.
Urdli drops out of the book about halfway through. Where did he go? Hard to credit the idea that he would just leave the artifact in Glasgian's dubious care.
- French: Attention aux elfes!
- German: Trau keinem Elf
- Hungarian: Sose bízz tündében
- Mason's: 1 out of 5. Disappointing book. The plot is incoherent, the heroes ineffectual, and the antagonists inexplicable. Still, it's not the worst shadowrun novel ever written...
- Doug's: B (out of A, B, C, D scale) This is a decent book, at its heart. Kham and the orc society he's a part of is very well portrayed. And this novel is a perfect example of the Machiavellian manipulations that characters in Shadowrun (or at least their authors) seem to love. It had a few too many problems though for me to really love. Like, yes, but not love. It's definitely a good addition to the series, however, and should not be skipped by Shadowrun fans.
- Goodreads: 3.59 (as of June 2013)
- Based partially on Mason's review