Monday, July 23, 2012

Sing the four quarters by Tanya Huff

Annice has the dubious pleasure of being the Princess Bard, a member of the royal family until she asked her dying father to let her become a Bard and her brother over reacted somewhat to the decision.  Ten years later and Annice is just one Bard amongst many, extra special because she can sing the kigh of all four quarters, but other than that she is just one Bard working for the good of the kingdom.  That simple life is somewhat derailed when she finds out that she is pregnant - an act that her brother declared treason ten years earlier, and that is not the only complication - the baby's father is declared guilty of treason and sentenced to death, and for some reason Annice is compelled to talk to him before his death sentence is carried out, a decision that will change both their lives.

Pjerin a'Stasiek, the Duc of Ohrid is tall, dark, and handsome - he is also headstrong, stubborn, and used to making his own way.  When he utters the words that condemn him to death he is shocked and angry, because the words that come out of his mouth are not his own, and the only person he can think of who might have put them there is the Bard Annice.  Dragged to the capital for his final trial and death, the last thing he expects is for Annice to come and talk to him - okay maybe it wasn't the last thing, finding out she was pregnant with his child was an even bigger shock.  Travelling cross country with a pregnant person isn't easy, but travelling with a pregnant Bard introduces all sorts of interesting challenges - especially as Annice's time grows nearer and her connection to the earth kigh grows stronger as well.

Sing the four quarters is nearly 20 years old now, and this is not the first time I have read it, but it was still an enjoyable read.  The idea of the kigh was particularly enjoyable, especially some of the quirky little things they did when they were not impressed with Annice (don't worry no spoilers) or when they were being curious about things and got in the way.  At times it felt like the story was dragged out in a way that wasn't necessary, but Huff was layering the story to add more depth and had several subplots which made the book better on the whole - just a little long winded.  This is the first book in a series of four (currently anyway) and the edition I read was an omnibus with Sing the four quarters and Fifth quarter in one volume - although with all the books to read on my shelf I didn't continue into Fifth quarter. 

Huff can have a flair for writing fantasy, and her urban fantasies are usually very good, but there was something a little bit lacking in Sing the four quarters.  Don't expect a high fantasy and you should enjoy this book as Huff does a good job of world building for her Bards and their enemies.  There is a little bit of romance, there is plenty of conflict, and there are some great fantasy sequences.

If you like this book then try:
  • Fifth quarter by Tanya Huff
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Summon the keeper by Tanya Huff
  • The Lark and the Wren by Mercedes Lackey
  • Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
  • Joust by Mercedes Lackey
  • Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
  • The Elvenbane by Andre Norton
  • The Diamond throne by David Eddings
  • The redemption of Althalus by David and Leigh Eddings
  • Dhampir by Barb and J.C Hendee

Reviewed by Brilla

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