Author: Jules Cory
Title: The Bard
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Limited
Plot: The discovery of a sword that had been lost for generations confirms that the Gods are readying for war once again. The sword holds the secrets to powers thought lost forever. It heralds the return of a Dragonslayer, capable of protecting humankind from the wrath of the ancient deities. But there is a problem. The sword-bearer is a seven year old girl.
Tallen learns quickly how to negotiate the politics of the royal court as she tries to find a place for herself in the capital city. She discovers a talent for being invisible in crowded places. Infiltrating restricted areas. And stealing precious items. But when her skills are commandeered by the King, she finds herself in a world of magick where her latent talents are being fought over. Unaware of her magickal ancestry, she is unprepared for the secret plots to control her and her powers. Schemes, by both friend and foe, that send her into danger.
The discovery of the Empathy Crystal forces Tallen to confront her ancient blood-line and the powers lying within her. She finds herself caught in the middle as the fault-line between the old pantheon of Gods and the new monotheistic religion cracks open. The war between neighbouring kingdoms covers the underlying battle for the power locked within the land they are fighting over. And the souls of the people living there.
I received The Bard from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Bard caught my attention by the series title: Dragonslayer. You all know I love my dragons.
Only, there were no dragons. Apart from in the epilogue, which had absolutely no connection to the rest of the story. It was a little random!
Onto the rest of the book… I did enjoy it: the plot had elements of magic and loss, first romance and the desperation to prove yourself and find where you belong. Standard elements to any young adult novel, really.
Despite having all the components to make this a strong book, ‘standard’ works as a good description. The plot had moments of tension but was slow-paced. This isn’t a short book at over 400 pages, but it took a while to get moving; there was a lot of allowing the characters to grow up just enough to get them where they needed to be.
The majority of the characters I liked: the prince who dares to dream, the page with his cheek and the mage-type figure with his mysteries. The main character, Tallen, is a young thief who has her life destroyed not once, but twice by the time she is around ten years old.
Happiness seemed a faraway world, lost in the mists as I fought to survive. My life shrank to the moment. I gave no thoughts to the next day; never considered the future.
It was difficult to connect with Tallen. Her default emotion is anger; there were numerous occasions where it read as if she was throwing a strop – hardly redeeming qualities for the hero of the book. She also spends a lot of time crying. It’s understandable with what she has gone through, but I never got that sense of her overcoming her fears and developing – key ingredients in any coming-of-age book.
The ages of the characters were difficult to place. There was a definite moment where she was 13, but suddenly Tallen and Kade were having sex, without giving the impression they were any older.
The author attempts to deal with puberty in a humorous way; brought up only by men means that Tallen doesn’t understand how her clothing needs to change. But other elements of puberty – especially for a girl being raised by men – were completely ignored. It made it feel like it was added in for light-hearted humour rather than dealing with the issue.
Kade was a favourite character. However, when dealing with something he can’t explain (no spoilers) his emotions go strongly from love to hate. It was annoying – it felt such an extreme reaction for no real reason. He knew she had gifts, and it worked to his advantage, but he closed down.
Drey has magic. But this is a world where the powers are never fully explained and it feels like his power is always just enough to conveniently get them out of whatever trouble. The same is true of the villain: I couldn’t dislike him because I didn’t know anything about him. He was there because the story needed a bad guy, and that was the only sense I got of him.
Overall, an enjoyable book but it did disappoint me and I’m not bothered about the series.