I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
“Fate often provides what we need, even when we are denied the things we want.”
When three of your co-bloggers insist that you’ll love a book, you have to read it. Especially when those friends know your reading life incredibly well and understand your love for music, both in literature and reality. And while I didn’t fall as head-over-heels for the story as they did, they were right; I very much enjoyed it. The Bard’s Blade is a compelling introduction to a world that’s lovely at first glance but is teeming with dark forces and hypocritical religion and unforeseen magic below its surface.
“Never allow the wickedness of others to dictate who you are.”
There two main protagonists in Anderson’s story: Lem, an immensely talented and renowned musician who finds himself fleeing his homeland to protect everyone he loves; and Mariyah, the daughter of a wine maker who loves Lem too much keep herself from following him. The secondary character with the biggest role is Shemi, Lem’s elderly uncle who would do anything to protect his nephew and the woman Lem loves. But the world is far larger than either Lem or Mariyah could have guessed, and finding each other begins to seem wildly improbable. Both of these characters find themselves in crazy situations where they are no longer in control of their own fate. All they can do is keep moving forward in the hope if being reunited someday.
“Evil is not defeated by good… Evil is defeated by the strength and conviction of those who refuse to break.”
This was a compulsively readable book. I wanted to know what happened next, and and I wanted to know more about the strange new world Lem and Mariyah found themselves in. However, there was something about the prose and character development that struck me as overly simplistic, which resulted in my caring about the characters on a cerebral level because I wanted to see how the plot lines tied together, not because Lem and Mariyah felt tangible to me and evoked much of an emotional response. I admit that such opinions are incredibly subjective, and didn’t prove to be the case at all for Petrik, Haïfa, and Eon when they read this book. It’s quite possible that my views of the writing were the result of picking up the right book at the wrong time, as I just recently finished reading The Secret History, which delivered stunning prose and characters so tangibly real that I expected them to show up drunk on my doorstep. That being said, there was a twist to the whole prophecy element of this book that I really appreciated, and I can’t wait to see where said twist leads.
“The deadliest blow is not dealt with a cry of fury but with a smile and a song.”
I love the worlds Anderson created in The Bard’s Blade. And yes, I mean worlds, because Lem and Mariyah’s home, Vylari, is magically separated from the world they find themselves in, Lamoria. The Kylorian faith, and the Arch Bishop and the Hedran that enforced its laws, reminded me very much of Judaism in the time of Jesus. (Hedran? Sanhedrin?) Because of this, I was greatly reminded of multiple Christian fantasy series I’ve read in the past, though Anderson took the tale somewhere completely different in the end. He did a great job of showing religious zeal taken too far, demonstrating the hypocrisy and fear that become prevalent when a belief system becomes the law of the land. I’m very interested to learn more about the religion and magic of Lamoria in the upcoming sequel, A Chorus of Fire. I also loved the musical element of the story; my only complaint is that it didn’t play a bigger role or enjoy as much time in the spotlight as I would have liked.
“Evil absent repentance is beyond redemption.”
The Bard’s Blade is a strong first installment into what I hope will be a captivating trilogy. Anderson did a great job with his world building, and I’m excited to see what kind of character development Lem and Mariyah undergo in the next installment. I also really appreciate how clean this book was; I could give this to my fourteen-year-old nephew with a clear conscience. That’s not to say there was no tension but, like Brandon Sanderson and Rachel Aaron, Anderson understands how to convey tension without dwelling on gory details or throwing in a ton of profanity. If you’re looking for a fantasy that is clean and romantic and fairly bright and addictively readable, pick up The Bard’s Blade. You’re in for a treat.
Release Date: January 28th, 2020