thinking out loud

The Tough Guide to Musicians/Bards


Tough Traveling is a weekly meme hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. This week’s topic is MUSICIANS/BARDS:

BARDS often join questing parties and provide entertainment around the campfire. Sometimes their music even holds a little bit of magic. Or a clue to an ancient mystery. Or…

At first I thought I didn’t have anything to share for this week’s theme, because although I love music in fiction, most of my faves are contemporary fiction rather than fantasy. But then I remembered these…


Cart and Cwidder, Diana Wynne Jones
The entire Singer family in this book are traveling singers/musicians. All of them have their own talents, but Moril, the main character, learns that his music also work magic. His father, Clennen, is also an interesting bard that doubles as a revolutionary, passing messages and secrets as they travel.

Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones
Thomas Lynn, and his quartet. Somehow I can’t remember the name of the quartet right now. His music doesn’t work magic the way Moril’s does, but it is part of why he attracted the attention of the fairy queen. This is the second week in a row I’m using this book, oops.

Thomas the Rhymer, Ellen Kushner
Since this book is a retelling of Thomas the Rhymer, the bard/minstrel in question here is Thomas himself. He’s gifted, and lives by his music and charming lies, but of course, like Thomas Lynn in Fire & Hemlock, this gets him the unfortunate attention of the Queen of Elfland.

Pay the Piper, Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
I was thinking of the Pied Piper, and then my mind went to this book, which I’ve almost completely forgotten about. This is a modern retelling, in which the Pied Piper is the lead singer of a band who steals away the children in town one Halloween night.

There are also several musician/bard characters I like in the Newford (Charles de Lint) and Bordertown (Terri Windling) series, and Adam Stemple wrote Singer of Souls and Steward of Song. And then, of course, there’s the Pellinor chronicles and Seraphina and The Magicians of Caprona!


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