This book, the third in the Bardic Voices series, is probably my favorite of the three I’ve read so far. I’m still partial to Rune from the first book, but I liked the characters in this book a lot and I also enjoyed the story. The story is a bit generic, but it’s told well and it held my attention. It was also a really quick read.
Throughout this series we’ve seen that conditions in the land are deteriorating. This is because the High King, who used to be a very good king, seems to have lost interest in doing his job. He’s become petulant and he refuses to take responsibility for the things he should be doing. Our main female character, Nightingale, reluctantly goes to the city where the king lives to try to learn what’s happening. While there, she unexpectedly meets up with an old friend and they work together to achieve their common goal.
One thing I really enjoyed about this book was that we were able to learn a lot more about the non-human characters. This book also had a bit more of a mystery to it, which helped hold my interest. The previous two books had simple, straight-forward stories. There wasn’t anything complicated about this story either, but it did at least give me more to think about as I speculated about who was responsible for some of the things that happened in the book.
Mercedes Lackey’s writing tends to be pretty black-and-white from what I’ve seen so far. People are either good or evil with very little ambiguity or middle ground. However, there’s one big shade of gray in this series and that’s the bardic magic. The characters who can use it talk now and then about what constitutes unethical use of their magic, and they talk as if they’re determined not to cross that line. Yet I often feel uncomfortable with the way they use it, and they do cross the line that I would have drawn. I’m not sure if this is Lackey’s attempt to add shades of gray into her writing, or if we’re supposed to see all of their choices as ethical because our wonderful main characters are good people who are working toward good causes.
I’m enjoying the series, and I plan to start reading the fourth and final book before the end of the night, but I am glad the series is almost at an end. I’m getting ready for a change of pace.