Some very interesting books are coming out of Australia these days, as you’d know if you’ve read the rest of my reviews (hint, hint). This was actually one of the first that I read, and it’s quite amazing, really. Part of that may be because Alison Croggon is primarily a poet, but it might also just be the overall strength of this work.

This work, the first of a quartet, takes place in a country called Annar. In Annar there are Bards, who all have the Gift. (Don’t roll your eyes yet, please.) Maerad is a slave on a mean little fief (a Cot) until she is accidentally discovered by a wandering Bard named Cadvan. Naturally, she’s 16, an orphan, spunky, and possessed of many deep magical Gifts of which she knows nothing. There’s also a possibility that her birth was foretold, and all that other epic fantasy rot. There’s probably no more point in telling you the plot, since I’d bet you can guess it by now. (more…)