When it comes to female fantasy authors, Mercedes Lackey is the Queen of Sardonic Wit. She also happens to be one my favorite authors, so I was not exactly crying when I read Born to Run to do this review. (Wow — I finally noticed that I seem to re-read my favorite books, series and authors for these reviews — oh, the punishment!) Not to mention that the premise of this book is so hilarious that I had more fun reading the preview on the back than I have had in reading entire books.
“So what is this wonderful new premise?” you might ask. Okay, you might not be asking that, but I’ll go ahead and tell you anyway. This book is about elves (or sidhe as all of us fantasy nuts know). But these are not just elves; they are elves that race cars. And they drive too fast. But that’s okay, because not only do these elves race, they do it to earn money to help kids in trouble.
And so enters the white hats. There’s Keighvin, a really cool Sidhe that has made the mistake of pissing off a lot of bad guys, and Tannim, a human mage who drives a Mustang (who, if he were real, I would marry in a second just because of his taste in music… and possibly his car. Yeah, the car too.). Then the minors: Ross, a guy that just figured out he’s dead, and Sam, the engineer with the obligatory Irish temper.
The white hats, of course, could not have their white hats without the other black hats. (See, they only pass out these hats when everyone is there, and if there is someone missing, they all get some silly hats that no one wants to wear at all, as they are neither black nor white.) So anyway… our Big Baddies don’t race cars (making them so less cool), instead they actually operate an illegal porn ring. (Which I guess is a bit easier than trying to withstand the effects of the iron in racing cars.) The big baddies start with Aurilia, a pretty elf with a bad attitude; Vidal, a chauvinistic elf; and Niall, a banshee who’s sort of a wimp. Anyway, the baddies are after Keighvin and Tannim, and to get to them, they attempt to hurt this underage hooker that Tannim has been trying to help. They also start off some pretty cool battles and other hijinks ensue.
So why do I like it? Well, they are elves who race cars. I mean, how much funnier can it get? One thing I have always liked about Misty is that she always takes a situation one step farther, and how much farther could it possible be? Okay, but seriously, the characters just shine with the force of Mercedes Lackey’s personality. The white hats make you laugh and the bad guys make you laugh harder. This is not her strongest book, but it definitely makes you think a bit about runaways, and about how much sense it makes that the Sidhe would help/hurt the kids (and how they would survive in the New Economy). She always takes these crazy turns in her stories, and it lends freshness to every one.
The only problem I could find about this book was what I always find upsetting in fantasy, which is the mixed up mythology. The elves are from Ireland, but everything else is Scottish. The Seleighe and Unseleighe Courts to designate the Sidhe in the good and bad categories (respectively) is not Irish. And their spellings were off too. They used uiskebagha (or something like it) to describe whiskey. In Irish it’s uisce bheatha. And the use of banshee to be Bane-Sidhe was weird too, because it’s totally false. (Okay, so I’m anal. I just haven’t been the same since The Little Mermaid didn’t turn out like it was supposed to in the books. At least that’s my story.) But these little oddities add up to make it less coherent… never a good thing.
But overall, it was a great book with funny lines and puns that make you laugh throughout, and make you ask the all-important question: if you were an elf, what kind of car would you drive?