It was an unexpected arrival, but book mail is always welcome at la casa de martes. I started reading The Bard’s Blade in part due to comparisons to The Wheel of Time. As it happens, I had just started a reread of The Eye of the World. I am afraid The Bard’s Blade suffers in comparison. And for other reasons.
Lem and Mariyah live an idyllic lifestyle in Vylari, magically insulated from Lamoria. Lem plays music and lives with his uncle Shemi. Mariyah helps run her family’s vineyard. They are in love. It all falls apart immediately, of course. It should be impossible for someone from Lamoria to cross into Vylari. When a man does with a dire warning, Lem chooses to leave the safety of Vylari in response. Mariyah and Shemi follow.
The Bard’s Blade is an enjoyable read. Lem, Mariyah, and Shemi are rich, well-drawn characters, as are the various minor characters. The worldbuilding and macro plot are intriguing. But.
The worldbuilding and plotting feel thinly sketched reading it alongside The Eye of the World. Many books would, so that can hardly be fatal. No bards appear, although they are mentioned. Okay. But in the end, after 430 pages of story, Anderson leaves us with what I simply cannot call a complete book. Not nearly enough happens. And the climax, such as it is, is a conversation—one of the dumbest conversations I have ever read in fiction.
I liked the book, for the most part. Stick the landing and it is somewhere from 3-4 stars. Anderson does not. (There are a couple twists that were intended to do a lot of the heavy lifting, but both were far too obvious to be effective for me.)
2.5 of 5 Stars.
Disclosure: The publisher sent me an unsolicited review copy of The Bard’s Blade.