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The Bards of Bone Plain
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2010
Well, what else could I expect from Patricia A McKillip? It's a beautifully written story with excellent characterisation and magic that is more than just waving a wand and chanting out some words. It's become a given to my friends and family that Ms McKillip is one of the only people who I would go even remotely fan-girl over.
The Bards of Bone Plain is very similar to Alphabet of Thorn in the focus on a figure of the past who then becomes legend and that might irritate some people because of those similarities- I personally liked the contrast of the chracter's legend and the character's true story.
The characters are well written and thought out and you don't always know which ones are bad and which are good which gives you something to think about as you read.
The prose -as anyone else who has read a book by Ms McKillip will know- is like poetry itself ('the music had begun to flow, fray into an unfinished phrase, a scattering of notes.') and draws you deep into the world she creates (so deep in fact that, much to my friends' amusement at college, while I was reading I was impervious to everything that was going on around me).
If you love fantasy where legend and truth meld together until you're never sure of where the magic stops then I'd say this is a good read for you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2012
In present-day Caerau, Princess Beatrice helps uncover the past under the charge of the flamboyant entrepreneur Jonah Cle, while Jonah's son Phelan struggles to find an easy topic for his graduation essay from the College of Bards. A thousand years earlier, the peasant bard Nairn sees the individual kingdoms of his homeland swallowed up one by one by the invader Oroh, aided by Bardic magic wielded by his court mage, Declan. The war over, Nairn finds himself at Declan's newly-founded Bardic College, caught up in Declan's search for the land's own magic, lost a thousand years earlier still and now existing only in glimpses of folk memory: riddles and runes. In both times, a contest is held to appoint the new Royal Bard; and in both times a stranger appears, seemingly from nowhere, and possessing skills that seem to make him unbeatable. Nairn's attempt to best the stranger result in a disaster that will haunt him down the undying centuries - and, in the present time, it seems that similar disaster is inevitable.

This is a typical McKillip, beautifully, lyrically written, and filled with delightful, charming characters with whom it's a pleasure to spend time. It's also more plot-driven than some of her books; the interweaving of the two timelines is skilfully done, and gives the story additional depth and weight. If she has a weakness, it's that she doesn't really like writing villains, so that often her final confrontations are anti-climactic, as is somewhat the case here. A lovely book, nevertheless.

One nitpick - for some reason McKillip has latched onto the word `genial', and overuses it relentlessly. It gets bothersome after a while.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Phelan Cle is about to graduate Bardic School just like his father wanted him to. He, however, doesn't want to be a bard.

Believing he's taking the easy way out of his final paper, he chooses to do a thesis on Bone Plain, the place where all poetry begins and Nairn the Wanderer failed three trials and disappeared forever. As he dives into his research, though, the clues he finds provide a glimpse into Nairn's past and the mystery behind his disappearance.

Will Phelan find a way to solve an age-old mystery?

The characters are quirky, fun to read about, and leave the readers wanting to know more about them. The plot is tightly developed and holds the reader's interest. Those who like fantasy, adventure, and mysteries will enjoy reading THE BARDS OF BONE PLAIN.

Reviewed by: Kira M
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