I received this book in exchange for a honest review.
I found The Warlord and the Bard by Eric Alan Westfall to be extremely confusing. First off, I had no idea if Darkfire was a place or someone’s name so I was pretty confused until Jerril’s point of view started. Jerril was clearly a person, but was Darkfire supposed to be a name or a place? The first several Darkfire sections were so confusing there was no way to tell if Darkfire was the character’s name or the place he was in! All the other names sounded like names in Jerril’s section, so how was I to be sure that Darkfire was even supposed to be anyone’s name? It was only until he started mind linking with his sister and she called him “’Fire” did it clarify that Darkfire was indeed the character’s name!
This story was either underdeveloped or just overly busy. It kept talking about it being very drunk outside and how it could destroy the world. What was “it”? This also made it hard to truly understand if DarkFire was a name or a place that the unknown character as talking about. How did Rage and Voices of the Sword of Souls being set free have to do being drunk outside? Where did Gate jumping come into play? How were these various concepts of being “free” have to do with destroying the world and being at peace? Who was the monitor who sat aside, like on his shoulder, watching over and keeping him from losing control? As I read, the more confused and more questions I had on how everything tied together in the story? Who was a young crippled youth and where, when, what happened that said person? Is this the same person who was fully capable now? I think I would certainly have benefited with more development and less scintillating characteristics to which there was no explanation or details. It was like this sounds like all great ideas so let’s just throw them in to be amazing, but let’s not really talk about any of it; it’ll add to the awesome mystery of the story. It was interesting alright, but with no fleshing out of the various amazing tidbits, it all becomes obscure, confusing and ends up ruining the story. I do have to say the politics of offending someone in a person of power's employ is equivalent to offending said person’s employer was very well developed and a scary policy.
After figuring out the characters names, I found that more terminology was thrown in, like DarkFire parties, the Tale and the Music to name a few more. What were these DarkFire parties? What were these potential raging fires? This also added to my confusion in understanding if DarkFire was a person’s name or the name of place?
On the plus side, the Jerril sections were well developed and relatively easy to understand. Most of the sections with Niallan were easy to understand. It could very well have been that these sections were the only ones that were developed enough so it was such a relief to get away from the confusing ambiguity of the fascinating characteristic dropping. The prophecy was interesting and made me want to see what exactly it was about, but when it was playing out, it was incredulously unremarkable.
I thought it was different that the Goddess had to meddle in their love affair and play pseudo-voyeur during their prophecy fulfilling acts. Also interesting that in the middle of lovemaking, Jerril freezes while in the heat of passion to have mental conversations with the Goddess. Everyone else can mind link without turning into a frozen robot, but not Jerril.
It was surprisingly anticlimactic that the King Emperor and Queen Empress accepted his new relationship so quickly after one dance together. The situation with Niallan was very quickly resolved after their dance also. Directly upon fulfillment of the prophecy, the story is tied up and closed up. I would have definitely liked more development.