ElfshadowInitially published in 1991 as a stand-alone novel in the Harpers series, Elfshadow was later reprinted as book 1 of the Songs & Swords series.  These tales follow the adventures of half-elf fighter Arilyn Moonblade, nobleman Danilo Thann, and elven crime lord Elaith Craulnober.

Elfshadow is a mystery in a fantasy setting, my first Forgotten Realms book, and my first published novel. The storytelling process felt very much like a treasure hunt followed by a puzzle quest.  Intriguing bits of lore in Ed Greenwood’s campaign setting (affectionately known to gamers as The Old Gray Boxed Set)  fit together to form questions that just had to be explored. For example, the defenses of the elven city Evereska were shored up around the time King Zaor of Evermeet died. Evereska is a very long way from Evermeet, but it seemed to me that there must be a connection.

Turns out I was right about that.

The Harpers, a semi-secret organization of adventurers and bards who strive for to maintain balance and preserve the memory of great deeds, are under attack. Several members have fallen to an assassin, and it does not escape the notice of archmage and Harper leader Khelben Arunsun that Arilyn Moonblade has been nearby when each of these deaths occurred. He sends his nephew, Danilo Thann, to ingratiate himself with Arilyn and determine whether she’s a target or a killer.  The search for the Harper Assassin soon entwines with a much older mystery: the nature of the ancient sword Arilyn inherited from her elven mother.

Here’s a list of  stories featuring Arilyn, Danilo, and Elaith:


Elfshadow, Songs & Swords Book 1
Elfsong, Songs & Swords Book 2
Silver Shadows, Songs & Swords Book 3
Thornhold, Songs & Swords Book 4  (Danilo, Arilyn & Elaith have minor roles)
The Dream Spheres, Songs & Swords Book 5
City of Splendors (Elaith has a minor role in this novel, which was co-written with Ed Greenwood)

 Short Fiction:

“The Bargain”—Realms of Valor (1993)/The Best of the Realms, Book III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham(2007)  (Danilo and Arilyn on a mission to Tethyr.)

“The More Things Change”—Realms of Infamy(1994)/The Best of the Realms, Book III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham (2007)  (Elaith’s fall from grace.)

“The Great Hunt”—Dragon Magazine #246 (1998)/The Best of the Realms, Book III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham (2007) (Arilyn and Elaith adventuring in the Wealdath.)

“Speaking with the Dead”—Realms of Mystery (1998)/The Best of the Realms, Book III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham (2007)  (Elaith is accused of murder; Arilyn & Danilo must prove his “innocence.”)

“Stolen Dreams”—Dragon Magazine #259 (1999)/The Best of the Realms, Book III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham (2007)  (The events of “Speaking with the Dead” retold through the eyes of Isabeau Thione)

“Games of Chance”—Dragon magazine #335 (2005)/The Best of the Realms, Book III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham (2007)  (Elaith tries to improve his daughter’s chances of inheriting the Craulnober moonblade.)

“The Knights of Samular”—The Best of the Realms, Book III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham (2007)  (This story ties up some of the loose ends of Thornhold. This is Algorind’s story, but Danilo appears as a secondary character.)

“Redemption”–Realms of War (2008)  (Elaith is called upon to help the Wealdath’s elves.)

Graphic Novels:

“The Great Hunt”–A graphic novel adaptation of the short story, published in Worlds of D&D #8 by Devil’s Due Publishing (2010)


Sample chapter

GoodReads reviews for Elfshadow


Purchase the book

Paperback:  Amazon

Ebook:  Amazon

Audio book: Available through Amazon.com


9 thoughts on “Elfshadow

  1. Loved, loved, LOVED, Arilyn, Danilo, and especially Elaith Craulnober. There was even a time in my FR games where pretty much every character wanted a moonblade. I grew up loving these characters and it made editing “Games of Chance” for Dragon a fantastic treat. Fabulous work on these Elaine and thanks for the great memories. 🙂

  2. This is a wonderful book, in my opinion the best Realms novel ever written – although Elfsong follows close behind. If you never read it, don’t miss the oportunity to know this story, a brilliant tale filled with a rich background and characters so alive that you will not want to stop reading until the very end of the book!

    1. Hi, Arilyn! 🙂

      This is an invented name, but it has roots in the name “Ariel.” This name struck me as the perfect balance between fey and fierce, beauty and power. In Hebrew, “Ariel” means “lion of God.” Shakespeare used the name for a fairy/sprite in “The Tempest,” possibly as a bit of word-play on “aerial.”

  3. I said in the comments in the Changeling Detective page that the old and the new translation of Elfshadow in Hebrew are identical, and I just want to note that I was mistaken. The second, while very similar, is a re-edit of the original – I recognize whole chunks unchanged from the first edition; I didn’t have the chance to read more than the free example chapter on the company’s site, but from what I see it’s a touch better than it used to be. They removed a few blunt mistakes, at least. I’ll have to purchase the new one before I can tell you if it does justice with your work, and until then I apologize for having given you the wrong info.

  4. Just finished my annual re-read of this novel, my favorite to date, in the Forgotten Realms. I thought I’d stop by and say thank you, again – hope to see you at Gencon this year.

    Warm Regards,
    Max (Steelgandalf on CC forum)

    1. UPDATE:

      It looks as if I’ll be giving GenCon a miss this year.


      Thanks, Max! Much appreciated.

      I am tentatively planning to attend GenCon this year. The most likely place to find me will be the Writers’ Symposium and the Candlekeep event.


  5. Just finished this absolutely wonderful book (Elfshadow). I wanted to let you know how much I loved the characters and I can’t wait to see where they go! I instantly ordered anything that had to do with Arilyn and Danilo. Thanks you for your awesome writing.

Leave a Reply to ECunningham Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *