Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Eventide (Tales of the Dragon's Bard, Book 1)

Eventide (Tales of the Dragon's Bard, Book 1), by renowned fantasy writer Tracy Hickman and his wife Laura, is one of those rare books I read that are not young adult fiction, books that appeal to me because they contain well-told stories about subjects more fascinating than everyday life. Ironically, Eventide is about a ho-hum cast of characters from a little fantasy village. Nothing much more exciting than winning pie contests happens to them. Yet, there's more to the village than meets the eye. And the one who will bring out those stories is none other than the ridiculous, ostentatious Dragon's Bard.

When Edvard, the Dragon's Bard, arrives with his scribe Abel at the village of Eventide, he is on a quest to collect stories to entertain the dragon who let him go. He meets Jarod, a shy accountant who secretly loves one of the wish-women of the town's broken wishing well, an old centaur farmer, a talented but underestimated dwarf blacksmith, a leather tanner who can't smell his own stinky work, and a gossiping river fairy, just to name a few. When Edvard tries to liven up their lives for his tales, the sleepy little town is in for not a few misunderstandings and a bit of troublesome adventure!

Eventide is fantasy, but it's not about the princess or the knight or even the dragon. It's about people like you and me, but it's interesting because it takes place in a world where all the above exists, too.

The main character is actually not the Dragon's Bard but the accountant Jarod, though other characters get bits of their stories told as well. It might be hard to enjoy a novel about only silly people, so it's nice that Jarod and his father are among the more polished and intelligent occupants of the town, thus allowing the reader to identify with and root for Jarod.

Read my review of my husband's soon-to-be-published novel The Unremarkable Squire because it's a very similar piece of fiction. My husband loves to use misfit characters and has enjoyed Hickman's books in the past because of theirs. Tracy and Laura Hickman's Eventide is all about misfits, though perhaps they are not as misfit as they at first seem. Many of the characters have quite a bit of depth once the story delves into their lives a bit, and maybe that's the point. Tales can be found anywhere. Romance can be epic, even in a tiny village. Everyone has a secret at one point or another.

This novel is relatively short for fantasy. It's clean and funny and doesn't bog you down too much in fantasy detail (but is slower-paced than young adult, still). I think I'll keep this one on my shelf at home. Three stars all around.

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