I’ve had fellow Here Be Magic and NIWA member Shawna Reppert on Boosting the Signal before, with her book Raven’s Wing. Shawna’s got a new release out, the m/m fantasy Where Light Meets Shadow, chock full of things which are Highly Relevant to My Interests: music, elves, and queer-friendly fiction! Because I mean honestly, a fantasy novel involving a romance between elven bards? It might as well be subtitled Put This In Anna’s Eyes Now. And if you’re in the same boat with me, meet her hero Kieran, whose goal is nothing less than the saving of his people through song. Sign me up.
Those not rude enough to say it to my face are saying it behind my back. Crazy Kieran is going to get himself killed for sure this time. He thinks he’s the bard his father was, off on some fool quest for what? A new tune? A new song? What difference can that make to anyone?
The thing is, they’re wrong. Not the part about me getting myself killed. Time will tell with that, although I can hope they are wrong. And if not? Maybe I think it’s a fair risk, gambling on joining a little sooner my father and mother and my brother never born in whatever lies after this life. If I die like my father did, in service of our people, I can only consider it a death well met.
And here Dermot or Cuin would roll their eyes and tell me I’ve sung too many ballads and now fancy myself the hero. Brona would frown and say that I must put a higher value on my life. I have no death wish; I wish I could convince her of that. Life is too full of song and story and pleasures to leave it early except in a good cause.
But as for the rest, I am very much aware that I am not the bard that my father was. Perhaps, in the fullness of time and under his tutelage, I might have become so. We’ll never know, will we? The murdering, oathbreaking Leas have seen to that.
As to what difference a tune can make, perhaps no difference at all. Perhaps all the difference in the world. I have called rain down with a tune—accidentally, it’s true, but still it proves that music has power. My father, it is said, could bolster the failing courage of armies with a song.
Something must save our people. We have been dwindling since or defeat by the Leas. We all see it, though no one wants to talk about it. The hunters go out less often and bring back less game. Each harvest is a little bit more disappointing than the last. The old feasts and festivals are no longer celebrated, out of deference to the queen, it is said, although the truth is that none of us have the heart for it.
Maybe new tunes and new songs will revitalize our people. Maybe—and this is a hope I share with none, since it sounds mad indeed, maybe I can find the forgotten healing magic of the bards of legend. Maybe I can wake our queen from her long stupor and save us all.
Maybe I’m not the bard my father was, but I may be all the hope that we have.