4 out of 4 stars
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Bard’s Exile by Carolyn Gross is an epic fantasy novel.
Despite being born blind, Marek is a skilled fighter and excellent cheat. His abnormal qualities have earned him the name, Demon, an accusation not to be taken lightly in this kingdom. After a violent encounter with Sellard Mission, the fiancé of Princess Selena, Marek awaits the fate he knows is coming, death.
With King Bel sick with the plague and the Queen ruling in his stead, Selena has never felt so forlorn. Her mother has arranged for her to marry Sellard Mission, a man she detests more and more with each passing day. When the chance to escape with a strange blind man comes, she flees the palace, not realizing how little she knows about surviving in the real world.
Bard’s Exile surprised me with it’s uniqueness. The summary may not sound like it is very different from any other fantasy, but there is a richness to the world the author has created. I was completely immersed in it. I love the interesting fantasy characters and how they come to play a part in this story.
The author does an incredible job balancing description and pacing. There is enough description to draw you in without ever bogging down the story. The pacing is perfect. Even though it is not that short of a book, I was able to finish it quickly. Of course, the books I always finish the fastest are the ones I never want to end! Interestingly, there are actually two books contained in this one. The second book is only about half the length of the first, but it does a great job of tying up all the loose ends.
The characters are well developed and likeable. The princess was oblivious and slightly annoying at times, but as the story progressed I got to see her strength come through in a realistic way. Marek is definitely a lovable underdog and I enjoyed rooting for him, Selena, and their friends.
The book is excellently written. I did not come across any typos or grammatical errors (which is a rare thing). It is also fairly clean. There are a few sexual implications, but they are not graphic. Therefore, I think it is a suitable book for young adults as well as adults.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Bard’s Exile. As a lover of fantasy, I am always thrilled when a book offers a creative and different element to an otherwise “normal” story. That is why I give this one a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. It held my interest the entire time and I fell in love with many of the characters. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a unique epic fantasy.
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