The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson

Lem is the best musician in Vylari… he has great skill on a rare stringed instrument called a balisari. He can wow a crowd and keep them at the tavern ordering drinks. His betrothed Mariyah’s family own a select vineyard that brings fame to the region. And even though her father is not so enthused with her match with Lem, things are pretty darn good for the couple. Until… a stranger enters town. He is on his death bed, but it is suspected that he comes from beyond their secluded and warded land. Rumors abound about the outside world named Lamoria, and none of them good.

The strangers last words prompts Lem to run. To cross the barrier to Lamoria in search for answers to his bloodline, his talent, and all that has separated the two worlds for so long. Yet, when Mariyah and Lem’s uncle Shemi find Lem gone, they dash to follow him on his adventure to the dangerous land. They are split up and trying to find their footing amongst warring factions, religious zealots, and underhanded thieves. I won’t go too much more into the plot because it is just a joy to read these reveals through Lem and the other characters’ eyes…

Ok, gonna go with a list with this one.

  • The Bard: Usually a minor character in fantasy, but Anderson has elevated Lem to front and center of this series. Not only are we treated with a good dose of musical descriptions, he is a character who I just had to root for. It’s not just the fish-out-of-water factor, but he has a purity of heart that makes his cause much for intriguing.
  • Pacing: Pitch perfect (pun intended). This story was far removed from the grim sword fighting that usually fills my Kindle. But what a great change of pace. The conflicts are fueled by real love and relationships, not some bow and bicep. I wouldn’t call it slow; I would call it thought-out and connected to the character’s struggles.
  • Setting: It’s very hard for me to describe when an author has revealed too little or too much in their descriptions of setting. A little mystery is key, but without the info dumps. Here, you have the taverns, the musical/ theater troupes, the ancient cities, the government hierarchy, etc. But this info is just so perfectly placed.
  • Overall, there’s many parts of this book that are going to be familiar to fantasy readers. This is comforting, but The Bard’s Blade shines in its unique differences. A bard as main character, wonderful well-paced writing, and a setting that will have you wanting to take the risk and travel through the barrier yourself.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Edelweiss, Tor Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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