cover image The Bard’s Blade

The Bard’s Blade

Brian D. Anderson. Tor, $17.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-250-21464-5

Anderson (The Vale) opens The Sorcerer’s Song epic fantasy series with an ambitious, enjoyable tale. A dark prophecy announcing the return of an ancient evil spurs Mariyah, the daughter of a winemaking family, and her betrothed, Lem, a handsome, gifted young musician, to leave their magically protected home of Vylari and embark on a dangerous quest to protect their world. Though they are separated, both succeed in reaching Lamoria, a land riven by fundamentalist religious sects. There, Lem trains as a professional assassin while Mariyah learns magic in the employ of the powerful Lady Camdon. Surprising twists keep Anderson’s dual plot structure from becoming formulaic, but the central struggles between good and evil magic and trust in others vs. self-reliance occasionally feel stale and heavy-handed. Anderson’s leisurely pace and careful worldbuilding leave plenty to be explored in further installments. This solid first foray into the land of Lamoria offers enough intrigue to entice readers back. Agent: Laurie McLean, Fuse Literary (Jan.)