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Elfquest: Dreamtime. Written by Wendy and Richard Pini. Illustrated by Wendy Pini. Poughkeepsie, NY: Warp Graphics, 1998. 1v. (unpaged). (Elfquest Reader's Collection, Book 8a). $11.95. ISBN 0-936861-52-5.


Adults, teens; can't think of anything objectionable except some very mild nudity and non-graphic sex play

NOTE: I will be adding an overview of the "classic eight" volumes in the near future, but I did review them (albeit as a whole, not as individual volumes) in my book. Thus, this review assumes that the reader knows about the classic eight and understands where the elves stand at this point.

Recently awakened from their 10,000-year sleep, Cutter and his tribe are happily reunited with Leetah, Skywise, Ember, Suntop, and Ekuar (and not so happily reunited with Rayek). But Redlance is disturbed about something; he knows he dreamed during his time in his cocoon but can't remember anything. Feeling that dreams are important, Pike feeds him dreamberry wine, and Redlance relaxes enough to recall a dream about being the spirit of the Father Tree, from his endless days sheltering the elves to his ultimate destruction by humans. Pike decides to collect dreams from all the elves who slept because the collective and shared dreams of the telepathic elves could teach them something.

Treestump grudgingly recalls a dream where, armor-clad and weapon-bearing, he protected his loved ones but accidentally killed them in the end. Zhantee shares his dream of challenge, water, weightless flight, and Leetah. Venka's dream was of her dual heritage between the gentle, wise Sun Folk and her cold warrior mother of the Go-Backs, and her status as protector of both Go-Backs and Wolfriders. Nightfall watched as first Cutter gave life to the Wolfriders and then the loveless ones--Rayek, Winnowill, and Two-Edge--stole all that was dear to her. She followed, intending to destroy the trio, but on the verge of victory, her dream ended as her cocoon was opened. [This incident was recounted in the Kahvi miniseries.] Pike weighs in with a dream of becoming smaller and smaller to escape danger, eventually turning into a dreamberry and escaping a troll, who eats him, in the natural way. The Go-Back Skot doesn't remember any dreams; to him and Krim, another Go-Back, life is an endless walk through a blinding snowstorm in which only the "now" is discernable. Strongbow and Moonshade do not offer up dreams, but they communicate in images and symbols what it means to be a Wolfrider. Tyleet's dream was a sweet and hopeful one of friendship with humans, and Shenshen's dream of somehow shining brighter than her sister Leetah, along with a vision of a pregnant Tyleet, was linked with Tyleet's vision of herself possessing five fingers.

At this point Pike starts to figure out how all these dreams fit together, and he calls council and asks for the dreams of the remaining sleepers: Clearbrook, who relived her attempt to rescue the infant Windkin from Winnowill; Aroree, who confesses that she does not dream herself but enters the dreams of others; Skywise (who was not cocooned but who wants to share his dream), who saw himself flying thanks to a friendly star, and who ultimately dreams of his long-dead wolf-friend Starjumper; and finally Cutter, who shares only part of his dream of losing all that he held dearest to Rayek, for the rest of it will torment and destroy his tribe just as it is tormenting and destroying him. From these dreams, Pike determines that the elves have somehow peeked into their future.

The book has a short, fully drawn "afterword" by Wendy Pini, who briefly explains to Cutter and Skywise how she is trying to make their story known to millions, and how it's changed her life.

Of course this book is great! It's Elfquest, for crying out loud! It's Cutter and Leetah and the best darn set of secondary characters in comics! If you haven't read any of the saga, what a treat awaits!

Okay, enough of that.... (Sorry, after that obnoxious Magic Knight Rayearth, what a joy to reenter the World of Two Moons.)

This is a relatively quiet book after the emotional roller-coaster that was the Kings of the Broken Wheel saga. There are few crises and no great trials to distract the elves. The worst that happens to anyone is when Skot and Krim, wishing for the taste of cooked meat, break the elves' rules to invade a humans' campsite, and Skot rather clumsily falls into the campfire. What Dreamtime does is give the elves a little more depth (not that most of the characters needed it, but it's always welcome) and provide insights into the world-views of both the immortals among the Wolfriders (who generally had pleasant dreams) and the wolf-blooded, mortal Wolfriders (who generally had protective, frightening, or escape-death dreams). The book also foreshadows some of the events that would soon affect the elves, such as Tyleet's pregnancy.

Given the structure of the story thread, the book is unusually episodic for the Elfquest series, but this is not a problem. It looks to be the last title written and drawn solely by the Pinis--sigh. An inevitable shift, but not necessarily a desirable one.

Elfquest, of course, is a core title for anyone's collection. Dreamtime is a must purchase if all the previous volumes are owned, but don't start here if you don't have those volumes; start with volume 1, or collect the missing volumes in the "classic eight" before getting this one. A lot of what happens here will be confusing without knowledge of the elves' previous adventures.

Buy it directly from Warp Graphics!

Copyright 2000, D. Aviva Rothschild


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