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C.S. Marks has often been described as a Renaissance woman. The daughter of academic parents, she holds a Ph.D. in Biology and has spent the past two decades teaching Biology and Equine Science. She is currently a Full Professor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in west central Indiana.
She began writing shortly after the untimely death of her father, who was a Professor of American Literature at Butler University. A gifted artist, she has produced illustrations and cover art for all three books. She plays and sings Celtic music and a few examples of her songwriting may be found within the pages of Fire-heart. She enjoys archery, and makes hand-crafted longbows using primitive tools.
Horses are her passion, and she is an accomplished horsewoman, having competed in the sport of endurance racing for many years. One of only a handful of Americans to complete the prestigious Tom Quilty Australian national championship hundred-mile ride, she has described this moment as her finest hour.
She has been happily married for nearly three decades. She and her husband, Jeff, share their home with ten dogs (predominantly Welsh Corgis) and five horses. They live deep in the forest, where there are miles and miles of trail riding to be had.
Sadie S. Forsythe
on June 01, 2013 :
Elfhunter will likely appeal to most Tolkien fans. It would be almost impossible to miss the similarities between the two. I read Tolkien when I was younger and I loved his writing, his stories, and the way he could just reach in and snatch the breath from my chest with the seemingly simplest of prose. I enjoyed Marks' writing, but it's not Tolkien.
I have to be honest. There is a small part of me who whats to lay my head back, close my eyes, and just relish the fact that I finally finished this book. I would have gotten far more enjoyment out of it if it had ended 200 pages before it did. Now, that isn't to say that I didn't like the book. For the most part I did. There are some really fine characters here and a truly epic journey against a notable foe. I just thought that it was way too long. There are whole passages dedicated to what the horses are doing, for example. I'll grant you that they are very charismatic and anthropomorphised horses, but I just don't care what the horses are doing when their people/elves aren't on them. I just don't. Everything from clothing, to environs, to emotions is described in excruciating detail. The result is that the book moves at an agonisingly slow pace. Patience is a must for this one.
On the flip side of all of that detail is the fact that Marks in able to create a very detailed world. The elves, humans (who aren't called humans BTW) and dwarfs all have fairly established societies. Granted, none of these venture far from the pre-established fantasy tropes. The elves are tall and graceful. They sing marvellously and live forever. The dwarfs are short and squat, grow beards, carry axes and tend toward mining and forging. The men are rough horsemen of noble heart. Nothing new in any of that. But Marks does a very good job of bring these societies to life.
I did struggle with the writing style a little bit. There isn't anything ostensibly wrong with it, but I saw another reader refer to it as 'uncomfortable.' I know exactly what he meant. I wouldn't have used that particular adjective, but the writing is stiff, almost formal. There are a lot of 'he did this, for she had..." type of sentences. To a certain extent this fits the story. If focuses on elves,who are known to be aristocratic and, well, formal. But 500 pages later I really, really wanted to be able to relax with these characters and their language was prohibitive. Kind of like sitting down to tea with some prim English gentleman and then slurping the dregs of your soda through your straw--just not done. It grated on me eventually. I will concede that it was consistent and well edited though.
Most infuriating of all, however, is that after 500+ pages it ended with a 'Meh.' I needed a sweeping, grand finale to make it worth all the time invested. Instead there is the emotional equivalent of 'oh well, better luck next time.' It is definitely not a satisfying ending. I realise, of course, that this is the first in a series, so in a way it isn't the end. But still...
All in all I'm of two minds here. I did enjoy the story. I could pick it to death, sure. There are plenty of small things bothering me. Like the annoying way things kept creeping up from the elves long histories. Things like: 'Oh yea, BTW she's had her true love already. Didn't you know?' The youngest is over 1,000 years old so there is a lot of uncovered life that popped up from time to time. I never felt like I really knew them. But that's a small matter. I can over look it and other small grievances enough to say with some certainty I enjoyed the story. On the other hand, I found finishing it a chore and it would be dishonest to say otherwise. I think this is a strong case of finding the right reader for the right book.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on April 10, 2013 :
The beginning was a bit strange but after reading a little farther I understand why C.S. Marks started there. The story moves along very nicely and fills in the necessary back story throughout without throwing the reader off course. The characters are so well developed that at times I felt I could see through their eyes. I'm looking forward to reading the next book it the series.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)