I’ve read some great books recently (and given up on some not so good ones), and now that the time-consuming launch of the World and the Stars anthology is over, I’m going to attempt to catch up on some reviews.
I make notes as I read, so all I have to do is get them into some kind of coherent order!
My Review of Huw the Bard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Opening in the moments when Huw’s glamorous life as a feted bard is torn asunder, this elegant story traces this young man’s struggle to escape a land turned suddenly hostile to his kind. Alone and clueless how to survive outside of society, we follow Huw’s harrowing journey as he discovers not only new depths to his character, but also painful truths about the politics and culture of his land. An array of colourful secondary characters pop naturally in and out of this story, much as they may do in real life.
It has been some time since I read a book written in omniscient viewpoint, and I found it a little unsettling at first to jump between characters. However, as most of the story is from Huw’s point of view, I soon settled into the narrative. Jasperson has a masterful touch with characterisation and truly awesome world building skills, plus a way of imparting these in the natural course of the tale. This book is chock full of excellent writing, witty dialogue and great touches of humour, while the horrors, violence, rape and murder are equally well depicted without descending into gratuitous sensationalism.
Personally, I would have liked a more urgent imperative to drive the plot – a solid goal to be gained in addition to the need for Huw to flee his homeland. The first half of the book was a little episodic, and I had one ‘huh?’ moment when, after many chapters of mourning his murdered father with no mention of another parent, Huw suddenly thinks about visiting his mother. If the foreshadowing was there, I’m afraid I missed it.
I also found that, after several adventures when dangers were outlined ahead of time, but never materialised, I lost the belief that Huw was in any real danger, although this did change later in the book.
So would I recommend it? That’s a resounding ‘yes’, for those who love great writing, characters and history; probably not so much if you’re looking for action and adventure and a pulse-pounding ride.
Me, I’m looking forward to reading the next one.