Today is launch day for a new Reedsy review: Bard by Dan Watt. I received a free ARC (advanced reader copy) of Bard courtesy of the author and Reedsy in exchange for an honest review. It was a unique story, definitely deserving of Reedsy's "Worth-Reading" 3-star rating (but with a couple areas that made it hard to give it a four or five.
-Q.: Why did I pick up Bard?
-A: The idea of a young man fated to find and be with one lover (thanks to a love gem gifted to him in his youth) and that same young man being a bard traveling the world having adventures stood out to me right away.
Without further ado, here is my Reedsy review: Bard by Dan Watt.:
Cornered and assaulted by ghouls, a mysterious maiden is rescued by a young boy named Bran, and she gifts him with a mysterious gem before vanishing without a trace. Bran is a simple but hard-working young man, whose destiny holds epic implications. Sent to train as a Bard as his now-blacksmith father once did, Bran finds himself swept up in a world he never knew existed outside the humble village he has survived in his entire life.
Bard, an epic tale of grand adventure, follows the young bard's journey from Bard-in-training with his friends to the deepest, darkest secrets of foreign royalty in the East. Along the way friends and made and lost, the lines between black and white are muddied to grey. Bran must battles between passion and hate as he travels through foreign lands and survives dangerous foes in search of the love who granted him the gem he cannot remove and that prohibits him from being with any other.
Watt's use of vivid imagery truly brings this story to life for readers. The world is inhabited by every kind of fantasy creature from elves and dwarves to harpies and goblins, and Watt does an amazing job challenging some of the stereotypes of each race while also maintaining the classic strengths in each that fantasy readers will love.
The deep darkness of the human heart is mirrored in corrupt immortal emperors and kings, while hope and love are still potent within the hearts of the characters we meet.
The present-tense narration in Bard was a little difficult to read and stay connected to over such a long book and there are some minor inconsistencies/unclear points in the plot regarding certain changes and decisions that Bran makes as well as the outcome of his friends, but it is definitely worth powering through the narrative style for this unique and unpredictable story.
Younger readers (as the synopsis advises this can be read by older teens) should be aware that Bard is definitely a dark fantasy. Trigger warnings include scenes and depictions of physical and sexual assault, murder, mentions of incest, graphic deaths/war, graphic injuries/deaths of children, explicit sex scenes, and gore.
Being a very original take on the good vs evil and fated-lovers tropes, this fantasy adventure would be a great read for lovers of the Game of Thrones series and Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Want to read another YA Dark Fantasy adventure novel? Check out my November 2020 featured indie author Clare Kae and her book Daughter of Dreams and Dread HERE.
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