Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bard's Tale 1--Castle of Deception (Lackey, Mercedes & Sherman, Josepha)

Rating: 4/5
Year: 1992
Genre: Fantasy
Read again? Maybe.

It says something about Anderson's "Darksaber" that I willingly picked up a Mercedes Lackey book back in July--for the first time in nearly 2 years. I haven't read a "Valdemar" book since October of 2009. Never did finish the series. Stopped at number 20. Staying right there.

"The Bard's Tale" series is much shorter (I've got 4) and thinner (smaller books are good) and not "Star Wars." The stories are based around 1985's Electronic Arts computer role playing game.

Kevin is apprenticed to an elderly Bard. The boy wants adventure! Nothing happens in their tiny village.

His Master sends him off on a mission. It's not much--just copying an rare old musical manuscript at Count Volmar's castle.

He quickly finds himself out of his element, a nobody among boys his age. He applies himself to his work to fill the time.

Then he meets the Count's niece, a vision with big blue eyes and golden curls, the first girl to ever pay attention to him.

Not so much. She's actually an evil fairy trying to foil Kevin's mission. When her ever-stronger advances and enchantments can't get the answers she's after, she and the Count stage a "kidnapping" of his "niece" and send Kevin off to look for her. With the boy out of the way, they can go through the library book by book until they find the one he was copying.

Too bad for them that only a Bard can see it!

Kevin's joined by a streetwise woman warrior, a wise-ass fairy, a White Elf...and a Dark Elf with the power of Death and a thirst for music.

Can they find the truth about the missing girl...and save the kingdom?

This is a safe and straightforward "quest" story once it gets rolling. A bit more melodramatic than I'd like, but still solidly done.

The characters could use some fleshing out, but they're serviceable.

There might be a few draggy points, but the story moves at a purposeful pace. I'd like to have gotten into the action a bit more quickly.

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