An Apprentice to Elves - Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette

Alfgya would no doubt chafe against restrictions and tradition no matter where she was raised.  Raised as much by the wolfheal's trellwolves as by her father, then apprenticed to the svartalfar mastersmith Tin, she's split between natures and cultures and standing representative of the alliance between humans and alfar.  But cultures take more to bridge than a single woman, and the Rheans encroach and threaten the men of the North.

The first thing that stood out to me when reading An Apprentice to Elves is that we are no longer following Isolfr's story, but that of his daughter Alfgyfa.  She is a fantastic protagonist, exceptional in her own way, but living life as a growing child and woman.

If you're starting the series with this book the first thing you may notice that the "elves" are not the Tolkien standard of tall, fair, pretty humanoids with pointed ears and who love trees.  These elves delve in the ground, with the Mothers and the Smiths the most honored among them.  The authors explore gender rolls and concepts in their take on the Animal Companion trope, in a setting inspired by Norse and Roman cultures.

This may be my favorite novel in the series so far.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Macmillan-Tor/Forge via NetGalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.