Monday, January 21, 2013

The Free Bards - Mercedes Lackey

The Free Bards
Mercedes Lackey
Baen Books
Copyright: 1997
978-0671877781

The back jacket blurb:
 Rune, Robin and Nightingale - 
Together They Will Save Us All (If we're very lucky...)
Rune: She ran away from an abusive home to become the greatest violinist her world had ever known - and when The Ghost of Skull Hill tried to stop her, she played him to sleep!

Robin: No mean musician herself, she must make her own visit to Skull Hill - to recruit the dreadful ghost to their cause.

Nightingale: Alone she could accomplish nothing. So she joined forces with T'fyrr, a strange nonhuman with the face of a raptor and the voice of an angelic choir.

This unlikely set of heroes had the daunting task of saving the King - and through him the Gypsies, Free Bards, and non-humans of the twenty kingdoms. Fortunately their opponents had no idea how potent a weapon music could be...
I just typed that jacket blurb out, and found myself cringing multiple times at how wrong it is. Frankly, if that were my introduction to the Bardic Voices books and Mercedes Lackey's writing, I don't think I'd have picked the book up. This isn't the first time I've read the book - there was a time when I owned all three of the books included here, along with the fourth, A Cast of Corbies, as separate volumes. Those books were The Lark and the Wren, The Robin and the Kestrel and The Eagle and the Nightingale.

Mercedes Lackey has created an interesting world with the Twenty Kingdoms and their structure, although we don't get to learn a lot about them. Still, there are some tantalizing hints to a past I kind of wish we could find out more about - some off-hand mentions of Delambren technology and the various references to the Cataclysm come to mind.

I'm going to class this one as not being "great literature" but instead being a fun read - but still one that leaves you thinking about things as you read it.  A lot of the story elements are fairly standard, but Mercedes Lackey has thrown in some interesting twists and turns.

The one thing that frustrated me a little bit was that I've forgotten the story from A Cast of Corbies almost completely, and that one's referred to a fair bit in the third book of this omnibus edtion. Overall, that's a fairly minor thing though.

Not my favourite Mercedes Lackey novel, but a good one nonetheless.
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