You know that scene in the Fellowship of the Ring when Sam says “If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest from home, I’ve ever been.”
That’s basically how Brian begins this tale. Our POV characters live in a place not unlike the shire. Though in this case their little shire is magically shielded from the outside world. But of course dark tidings and mystery from the outside will surely draw them out from this safe place into the events of the story being told here. And what a story it is.
We get to know both of these POV characters quite well. What they value and what they’re made of. And it’s on the strength of these characterizations that we’re drawn ever forward into a culture and society where they don’t know the rules. Because of this it echoes other coming of age and fish out of water stories because of this friction between environment and character. And I believe that Brian really nailed this because the story is never rushed but it also never bores. We get to see these characters grow and change right in front of us and it is lovely to see.
And I suppose that gets to the heart of what I enjoyed about this story. The worldbuilding isn’t just window dressing. It’s integral to our characters’ survival as they try to navigate the multitude of unknowns that populate their future. And even with the best intentions and efforts sometimes the darkness of the world gets the best of them. And that is a very human story worth telling.
I highly recommend The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson out from TOR Books on January 28, 2020.
I received an advanced digital copy to write this review.