A slave discovers that she is The One prophesied by the mystical race of Bards.
It really is all about execution when it comes to epic fantasy. I mean, that one sentence synopsis of The Gift could pretty much describe about a zillion other books, many of them truly dreadful. In fact, I was listening the audiobook of Mistborn at the same time, which has basically the same premise!
So far, Alison Croggon is delivering a fine, fine tale. She admits to being heavily influenced by JRR Tolkien, and it shows, but her writing is strong enough to that the book doesn’t feel like a copy or a pastiche. (Plus, there are no elves.) Maerad is strong without being plucky–that awful fantasy cliché for women–and her mentor Cadvan has a lot going on under the surface.
Cadvan is training Maerad in the Gift to which she was born, that of the noble race of Bards, who are teachers and healers and benevolent rulers. However, a strain of dark Bards called Hulls has arisen, under the leadership of the darkness, and Maerad might be the One prophesied to bring them down. This first book concerns itself with Maerad’s discovery of her gift and her increasing awareness of the threat, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes next.