TINKER (2002) – 2003 Sapphire Award Winner
Tinker is a romance/adventure book placed in a science fiction setting. While there are elves, they are part of a parallel world that earth got to through technology – sort of side-stepping to another world. Warning on the romance part – it is explicit.
Wen Spencer’s invention of Tinker – our salvage-yard owner protagonist – is the creation of a well-rounded character. All others are rather two-dimensional compared to her, but as she is our scrappy heroine that doesn’t really matter.
Pittsburgh travels between Elfhome and Earth – one month on Elfhome/24 hours on Earth. While on earth the ambient level of magic goes way down. Tinker has found a way to combat that through storage tanks and a magic spell. That turns out to save the life of the Viceroy (Wolf Who Rules), Windwolf. In saving Windwolf’s life Tinker becomes embroiled in the politics of the Elfin court, the NSA and the Elfin Interdimensional Agency. Everyone is out to find her. Thankfully, Tinker has the brains to deal with all of the complications of her life.
I like Tinker. She is smarter than I’ll ever be and a whole lot braver. Her innocence and huge heart are appealing. Wen brings Tinker to life for me and her writing brings music to my soul.
Wolf Who Rules continues right after the end of Tinker. In it we get to know Wolfwind and the elven culture a little better. Tinker is still the main protagonist of the novel.
Tinker is having nightmares. Nightmares that are about things she has no knowledge of. Scary things like the Wizard of Oz. These dreams are draining her but it seems they are important for some reason.
When the royal troops come to Pittsburgh, Tinker needs to figure out how to behave around other domane and royalty. As she is only 18, the elves consider her a baby and therefore of no consequence. Are they in for a surprise!!!! Windwolf is, for the most part, left to deal with the politics of this tense situation.
While Tinker saved Elfhome from the Oni in the previous book, there were side-effects. There is a growing discontinuity in Turtle creek. Add a couple of dragons and the half-oni and the tengu and Tinker and Windwolf have their work cut out for them.
We are still encountering the excellence of Spencer’s writing. Her books are a delight to read. I believe I’ve read them all. This science fiction parallel world of Elfhome is a dangerous place to live and Spencer’s writing makes that quite clear. Warning in this book as well. There is some explicit sex in it.
Elfhome disappointed. I’d gotten used to the excellent writing in Spencer’s two previous book. Elfhome on the other hand was too noisy. There were hiccups in the flow of words and Tinker had all of a sudden become two-dimensional rather than the three-dimensionality she’d had in Tinker and Wolf Who Rules.
The plot itself is actually pretty good. Elven kids come to Pittsburgh to hoping for better lives. They are kidnapped and during the investigation of that kidnapping Oilcan and Tinker discover Skin-Clan interference. It turns out the Skin-Clan might have emigrated to the Oni-world – playing gods with the lives of the population there. When Tommy Chan is added to the mixture the text loses its adhesiveness. Too much is going on in too little text.
I still liked Elfhome. It’s just that I’d gotten used to a different standard of writing from Wen. The whole Elfworld setting is pretty enchanting. A world of powerful magic, beautiful elves, man-eating trees, frost-breathing wargs, and god-like dragons makes for interesting lives for the population.
If there is a book no. 4 in this series, I will buy it. The only problem with Elfhome is Tinker and Wolf Who Rules. Without these two novels, I probably would have had no complaints. That is the problem with excellence I guess.