The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson
My rating : 5 of 5 stars
Series: The Sorcerer’s Song
Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy
To be published: January 28th, 2020 by Tor books
I would like to thank the publisher, Tor books, for providing an early copy in exchange for an honest opinion. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and the quotes included may change in the released copy.
The Bard’s Blade was a winning bet! This is the 2nd book I started on a whim last year based solely on a recommendation from Petrik and it worked superbly. Gripping and moving, the first installment of Brian D. Anderson’s newest series made me ridiculously ecstatic and sat proudly in my top 3 reads of 2019.
To give some context first, something vital has been missing in most of my reads in the last couple of years. You know, that magical and indelible emotional connection to the world or the characters or the story the author’s trying to tell (or better still, to all three). Failing to get that spark from new books, I took refuge in rereads to try and experience it once again (to give you an idea, half of my reads were rereads in 2018 and 2019). But it’s never the same again, is it? That first sense of awe from this new world that sucked you in. The nascent kinship and investment you felt toward a new fictional character. The upcoming events that made you sacrifice sleep.
The Bard’s Blade was such a book for me! It knocked me off my feet, punched me in the feels and made me experience that connection again!
The story started in a very simple and a tad old school fashion. We were introduced to Mariyah, a smart and hardworking winegrower’s daughter and her betrothed Lem, an out-of-this-world musician. Both enjoyed a quiet and serene life in Vylari, a peaceful land protected from the terrible outside world by a magical barrier. No one entered Vylari and no one left it, because if they did, they could never find their way home again. Or so most Vylarians thought… until a stranger came with an ominous message.
“There were no strangers in Vylari, only people he had yet to meet.”
I won’t say more about the plot. All I knew going in is that the book featured a musician and that music was beautifully described. That’s it. And that was a good thing too, because The Bard’s Blade surprised me at every turn and concluded in a most tense, powerful, emotional manner. Don’t expect huge battles or epic displays of powers though folks. The story wasn’t particularly fast paced or action-packed or heavy on magic either. The writing wasn’t lush or fanciful and the storytelling was pretty simple and linear (except for a fast forward somewhere after the halfway mark). And yet, I was hooked since the early pages. There was a strong and genuine sense of anticipation that kept me focused and invested and left me impatient whenever duty called. I won’t say if or when that anticipation will be fulfilled for obvious sadistic reasons. And to –hopefully- keep you guys rooted in the pages like I was.
Knowledge is like the first step down a long road. All you can see is the ground at your feet. What lies ahead is shrouded in darkness until you find the courage to walk on.
Something I truly enjoyed was the way Anderson treated the much trodden trope of the Chosen One prophecy. He took it, dusted it, gave it a nice and refreshing makeover and let it lurk in the background while the characters sorted themselves out and embarked on their respective journeys.
And what journeys those have been! Dangers and fate kept ambushing them at every step, every decision. Anderson didn’t shy from forcing them into dire situations and that made me realize how fast and deep I came to love them and fear for them (a fortunate occurrence, since The Bard’s Blade is an essentially character-driven story). Heck, I was anxious beyond reason every time Lem performed in public! I’d have been content to read about Lem and Mariyah and Shemi (Lem’s uncle) having a long peaceful life and a happily ever after in Vylari, protected from Lamoria’s greed and cruelty and zealous religion; that tells you how much I cared for them. But that wouldn’t tell a good story, now, would it?
“Words are powerful,” Lady Camdon continued. “There is no denying that. The wise and the strong use them both to heal and to cause great harm. Their meaning and their intent can be mightier than the keenest blade or the straightest arrow.”
If you haven’t guessed already, Anderson’s characterization was truly phenomenal to me! His main characters developed in a spectacular way since they were first introduced. Ordeals kept battering them. The people they met changed them. The truths and lessons they learned challenged their beliefs and their limits. And somehow, their retained an earnestness and sincerity that made them very special and very endearing.
”Evil is not defeated by good, Mariyah. Evil is defeated by the strength and conviction of those who refuse to break. “
The Bard’s Blade gave me an amazing reading experience and every single page enchanted me! With its simple prose, engrossing plot, growing worldbuilding, engaging characters and clever mix of modern and old school storytelling, it elicited all kinds of emotions in me. I seriously can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel, A Chorus of Fire (expected publication august 4th) after the intense (and full of possibilities) conclusion Anderson gave us.