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Bardic Voices Books In Order

Publication Order of Bardic Voices Books

Lark and the Wren (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Robin and the Kestrel (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Cast of Corbies (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Eagle and the Nightingales (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Four and Twenty Blackbirds (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

“Bardic Voices” is a series of novels that combines mystery and fantasy written by American author Mercedes Lackey. The debut novel in the series was “The Lark and the Wren” that was first published in 1991. “A Cast of Corbies” that is technically part of the “Bardic Choices” series is sometimes included in the “Bardic Voices” series. The series has five titles with the last novel “Four & Twenty Blackbirds” published in 1997. Many of Mercedes Lackeys’ novels are set in the fictional world of Velgartha in Valdemar and are often interlinked. Her Valdemar world is one with an intricate tapestry of relationship between non human and human protagonists with a variety of social moires and cultures. Her other world is the more typical fantasy one full of mythical beings, vampires, mages, and elves among other clandestine populations. She has also published several works that rework popular fairy tales of the early 20th and mid-19th century that explore themes of gender roles, social class, and ecology. With more than 140 novels to her name, Lackey is one of the most prolific fantasy and science fiction authors of all time. When she is not writing she is rehabilitating wild birds and penning lyrics for a variety of artists. She lives with her husband and a flock of parrots in Oklahoma.

Mercedes was born and raised in Chicago and went to Purdue University. After graduating from college she worked various jobs such as lyric writing for Firebird Arts & Music, computer programming, and artist model. She describes herself as a storyteller who draws her stories from the characters she interacts with in her daily life. Music is very important for Mercedes who is a lover of the Medieval period when folk music and bard singers were among some of the most important people of the time. She got into writing out of boredom and soon became addicted to fantasy historicals, particularly the aspect of magic. Nonetheless, she loves to keep it real and combines ordinary love and life stories with the fantastic world of evil magicians and invading armies.

Lackey being a professional lyricist and musician, expertly weaves in music into her novels. Her strong, independent and smart characters such as Rune, Ardis, and Nightingale are also skilled musicians though they also have their flaws and have different strengths from character to character. They are passionate, logical, and practical characters whop have high ambitions in their chosen career fields even as they are well aware of how vulnerable and weak they may be. As for her female characters, they tend to be slender and tall women that have strength of aptitude and wisdom to survive many of the challenges thrown their way in a masculine world. For instance, Rune of “The Lark and the Wren” could pass for a boy but is smart enough to only travel the streets when her safety is almost guaranteed. Throughout the course of the series, the characters also have to deal with romance which tends to change their interactions making for quite intense sub plots. Some important themes Lackey tackles include inter species and interracial relationship issues that often results in a dynamic and enthralling plot-line.

“The Bardic Voices” series showcases Lackey intimate knowledge of music, particularly the Scottish and Irish fiddles, and the English folk-songs that jump at you from the narratives. She introduces magic into the series as her lead characters such as Talaysen and Rune enjoy learning how to cast spells through their music. The magical aspect is fleshed out over the course of the novels as the characters become more proficient at it. An important institution that is almost a character is the Church that is represented by Ardis, who appears in almost all the novels. Modeled on the Reformation Catholic Church, it is power hungry and corrupt institution that is lacking in nuance, with only a handful of people that can be called good. Most of the characters associated with the church are indifferent and small minded persons, that bigoted at worst and indifferent to the suffering of others at best. Set in historical Europe during the very early days of the Renaissance, it presents a world different enough to be interesting and appealing while still being familiar for a historical series. The music and magic that flow throughout the series and the attention to detail bring the narratives to life to make a series of fascinating novels.

“The Lark and the Wren” the first novel of the series is a novel about Rune a Spunky girl who is teased by others in her village, until she turns to music the only thing she is good at. In fact, she is so proficient at her fiddle that she beat a malevolent ancient ghost. Coming from her recent victory, she registers for the “Bardic Trials” hoping to be licensed as a bard. However, after winning the competition she is told she cannot become a bard given that she is a girl and bards can only be men. Luckily The Free Bards and a man named Talyeson were impressed by her performance and they invite her to join and make music with them. Rune is a good-hearted and hardworking artist but it is also clear that she loves her music. The rivalry and tension between the Free Bards and the Barci Guild make for a good story, though the ultimate is when the quick thinking and tensions evolves into a full blown romance on the road.

“Four & Twenty Blackbird” is set in Haldene city where constable Tal Rufen has been charged with the investigation of several brutal murders. The clues in the case are the most bizarre he has ever encountered: the victims are all girl musicians that made their life on the street, while the perpetrators all commit suicide immediately after doing the deed. The weapon is a typical blade but it goes missing from the scene of crime and the weather does not help as it washes away any evidence of magic just before he arrives at the scene. With his superiors indifferent to his concerns he quits to go to Kingsford where the murders follow him. The High Bishop Ardis contracts Tal to investigate and he soon finds that an ancient mage named Rand may be responsible for the killings. Rand is taking revenge for wrongs committed against him in the distant past. However, the killing is not only revenge, but also a means to enhance his magical powers that he never got to use in his former life.

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