Score: 86/100 (8.6 out of 10)
The Dark Elf of Oklahoma by Ethan Richards continues to wild, chaotic story that began in The Dark Lord of Oklahoma.
This book follows Asher Cries-For-War, Sam, Chance, Elena, Seth, Gavan, Zorin, and Elder Orkenkind in the midst of the emergence of a violent elvin biker gang believed to be linked to the Witch Queen.
There is a major increase in action, violence, and even some descriptions of gore in this book compared to the last one. Whereas the last book was silly, goofy, and comedic in tone, this book is actually quite serious and severe with numerous deaths, mutilation, and even the suggestion of a sexual assault. While the last book was more like Disney's Enchanted, this one is more like Mortal Kombat.
The author reintroduces the incredible AA-12 (automatic shotgun) while adding even more automatic weapons like the FAMAS and AK-47.
The “war” really is on, and there's combat and action throughout.
While Elena seemed to be the central protagonist of book one, this book really focuses more on Asher Cries-For-War and his militia group. Even Gavan, Zorin, and Sam seem to get more shine and screen time than Elena does this time around. This is much more of a “guy's” story—a more masculine story than the last.
We're no strangers to books with non-stop action & combat. Lethal Decree by Dr. Trent W. Smallwood was such a book, and it was one of the best we read. The thing is, action for the sake of action doesn't necessarily work. The thing about Lethal Decree that made it work is that it focused on one great character, Sebastian Storm, and his personal struggles. In fact, the vendetta he had in that story was incredibly personal. So, we bought into the story similar to how we buy into Rambo's story in Rambo.
The thing, it's very difficult to take these characters or this plot seriously—at least not seriously enough to make the action and stakes work. There's something a bit off about all of it. Perhaps it's the fact that there are just too many major characters to care about and many of them don't seem that fleshed out. The other thing is that, despite reading the last book and trying to read this one three times, we still don't fully understand the conflict or the stakes (or why we should buy into them). The story skips around too much and never focuses on any one thing enough. It goes from different locations in Oklahoma from Ragnok to the Salt Flats in Jet to the penitentiary in McAlester.
With all that said, it's not like you can't make a story like this work. It can be entertaining and fun, especially if you like “dumb action flicks” or stories. Some things aren't made to be deep and complex, some things are there because we love to see things go “boom” and to hear the rat-tat-tat of rifle fire.
Onomatopoeia is actually one of the literary tactics that the author gets really well in both of these books. They capture the sound of a gun to the sound that a crow makes.
The writing is actually not bad. Sometimes, it's even sophisticated and elegant. The author details things colorfully, sometimes too colorfully. It's easy to get distracted by the details. The other thing is, there are a lot of incredible military analogies and sayings in here which could only come from a person of wisdom and experience in that field. So, we appreciate that too.
The book could use a rewrite and/or someone to go through and reformat it. Like the last book, it's missing indentations and there are times when text isn't wrapped properly.
However, if you love stories about elves, orcs, action, and adventure, you might really jive with this one.
Check it out on Amazon