Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 20, 1998

Spiritride by Mark Shepherd

Four showed up for this discussion, and two additional people submitted comments via e-mail. Spiritride is a hard-to-describe fantasy novel involving elves, motorcycles, and Native Americans. The story follows a group of elves hunting for their enemies, who have fled to the world of humans. Along the way, the elves enlist the help of a Native American biker and several “guardian angels” of bikers. Complications ensue, and eventually a Satanic cult gets mixed into the plot.

Despite most in the group stating that this is “not the type of book I usually read”, no one had any trouble reading the book. The tone of the book, the inclusion of a teenage boy character, and the emphasis on motorcycles made us feel like this novel was aimed at teenage boys who like motorcycles. None of us fell into that category, but we liked the book anyway. We found Shepherd’s prose style to be technically solid and very readable. The fantasy and Native American elements were well thought-out, and we were pleasantly surprised at how well these disparate elements worked together. The “good guy” characters were well developed and had complicated personalities.

The book had a few problems. The “bad guy” characters were one-dimensional and didn’t seem like real people. And many of us felt that the basic elf fantasy element was not very original. Since this book is related to a series that Shepherd did with Mercedes Lackey, he might not have had freedom to innovate with this element.

Overall we liked this book, and we think Mark Shepherd is a writer to watch. We’re particularly interested to see Shepherd develop new worlds of his own in which to set his stories.

— A. T. Campbell, III