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Cold TomRobin: Tom is cast out from the Tribe for fear his clumsiness will reveal them to the “demons” whom dominate the land. “Once, the Tribe had outnumbered the demons: the demons had held the Tribe in fear, then; but that was long ago. Even Tom hardly knew how many of the Tribe lived on the common, now, for they were solitary and came together only to feed. ” I’ll admit the Tribe in this novel are not clearly identified as elves, but they have a cold ruthlessness which makes that name more fitting than any other. They are silver and beautiful, with pure sweet voices, and can walk invisible, especially in moonlight.

This book must be uncomfortable reading for humans, for we soon realise that the demons are humans, and to Tom, taking refuge in the city, they are quite horrible. The little girl Anna, for instance: compared to a elf lady, she is “heavy, lumpen, coarse… Her face was red and her teeth were blunt”. When she finds Tom, she thinks of him as cold, and indeed he freezes a thermometer, but to him she is hot, hot enough to burn him. Worse of all though are the emotional connections between the humans: “Tom nearly vomited. There were slave-ropes that tied that male to the others… Ropes that tugged at its mind and forced it to return so the others could feed from it… Suddenly he understood the danger of the demon city. It wasn’t being killed: it was being held, and having your mind tied so that you could never be free again. Even Larn was not so cruel as that.”

He is caught between two horrors – the Tribe want to cast him out and kill him; the humans want to embrace and enslave him. Something has to give… and Tom himself begins to change.

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