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Song of the Beast (2003)

por Carol Berg

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537944,383 (3.97)1 / 44
Brutal imprisonment has broken Aidan McAllister. Once the most famous musician of his generation, celebrated as a man beloved of the gods, his voice is now silent, his hands ruined, his music that offered beauty and hope to war-torn Elyria destroyed. Even the god who nurtured his talent since boyhood has abandoned him. But no one ever told him his crime. To discover the truth, he must risk his hard-bought freedom to unlock the mind of his god and the heart of his enemy.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Found it a bit silly that the villain kept a journal of all his crimes for everybody to read ( )
  Eclipse777 | Jun 27, 2021 |
Song of the Beast is a standalone fantasy novel set on a fictional world with dragons. I haven’t read tons of fantasy books with dragons, but I have read several and this book wasn’t like any of the ones I’ve read, at least not in any significant way. The story opens up with a character named Aidan as he’s being released after 17 years of imprisonment. He’s a mess, his fingers were broken repeatedly for years, he’s afraid to talk, and he doesn’t even know why he was imprisoned nor why he was released. He doesn’t get much of a chance to lick his wounds before his life is in danger again.

One thing I like about Carol Berg’s writing is that she starts off with what seems like a simple story, and I think I can see where things are going, but she keeps revealing new layers and I keep realizing that there was just a little more to what was going on than I had suspected. Her stories may not be super complex, but neither are they ever quite as straight-forward as they first appear, and I never find myself comparing them to other books because they aren’t full of tropes, or at least she doesn’t take them in a common direction.

Another thing I like about Carol Berg’s writing is that she can tell a full, satisfying story in a relatively short span of pages. This book was a little under 500 pages and is not part of a series. I’ve also read two very satisfying duologies that she’s written, and one very satisfying trilogy. I enjoy a long, epic fantasy series as much as the next epic fantasy fan, with characters who become my second family for months, but they’re a huge time commitment and they limit my ability to get to other books I’m also interested in. It’s great to be able to satisfy that craving in a smaller dose.

This book was a little more romancey than her other books that I’ve read, and that part was maybe a little tropey and angsty, but I didn’t feel like it overshadowed the story. I bought into it well enough and never felt annoyed by it. I liked the main characters, especially Aidan. I preferred reading from his POV, although I liked the other main POV well enough. I just had a little bit of trouble adjusting after I’d been reading from the first person of Aidan for most of the first 250 pages, and it switched to the first-person POV of a different character. Sometimes I forgot I was reading from a different POV when I first picked the book up after not having read it for a few hours. This wasn’t a big problem for me, just an occasional annoyance, and there were advantages to telling parts of the story from the POV of different characters.

This is the 8th book I’ve read by the author and I consider her to be one of my favorites. I enjoyed this book a lot, and it reminded me that I really need to fit her into my reading schedule more often. However, I did like the other 7 better. This one held my interest and I was always happy to pick it back up when I had the time, but I never quite reached that point where nothing short of a catastrophe could make me put the book down like what I’ve experienced with her other books. I’m giving it 4.5 stars, but rounding down to 4 on Goodreads. ( )
1 vote YouKneeK | May 22, 2020 |
This book and its author are a stonking discovery. I’m a fan of Janny Wurts ([b:The Wars of Light and Shadow|28660|The Curse of the Mistwraith (Wars of Light & Shadow, #1)|Janny Wurts|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328835513s/28660.jpg|1945432] is my favorite epic fantasy series ever) and Carol Berg was recommended to me as a not-to-be-missed quality fantasy author with a gift for prose, well-rounded stories and characterization. I decided to start with this book since it’s a standalone and the summary, with the element of music as part of the plot and a mature protagonist, intrigued me.
It also sounded like traditional fantasy, with Dragons, Bards, Chosen Ones and Evil Kings; fine by me, originality is not of paramount importance as long as the story is entertaining and the characters interesting to read about, meaning ambivalence, spontaneity and unpredictability. This book truly exceeded my expectations, the traditional fantasy tropes are skillfully rendered and its main strength is Berg’s narrative techniques: the story never flounders, I was emotionally involved and I couldn’t really put the book down, even if it’s neither a pacy romp with break-neck battles nor a complex character-driven play of oblique intricacy.

There is a single plot line and a linear progression, with depth and emphasis on the protagonist’s development which I liked very much; truly all the characters are not banal, even the stereotyped ones merge beautifully in the tale because all the motivations are complex, entwining, entrenched and changing. There were some details that puzzled me a little, but the story moves forward so sinuously, there’s both action and introspection, it feels very fresh and immersive.
Actually, this simplicity is truly deceptive, there are several plot twists and the structure of the work is consistent and engaging, to say nothing of the rhythm which is carefully researched throughout: the intensity never wavers, it builds steadily and increases when the story reaches its peak. When I was reading I noticed none of that, I artlessly savored the tale and let myself go with the flow, it came so natural. Now that I am thinking about it, two Berg’s books strong (already read [b:Transformation|618196|Transformation (Rai-Kirah, #1)|Carol Berg|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388179994s/618196.jpg|1198836] for good measure), I see the pattern is deliberate, and effective. The narrative is in first-person, mainly told from Aidan viewpoint, but a few other characters share the lead and the shifts are handled ingeniously, also seeing certain scenes from other vantages enhanced my experience and never caused confusion.

The introduction grabbed me at once; the protagonist and the background are disclosed very gradually, enough to pique my curiosity but not too much at once as to mar the harmony of the reading progression. The description of Aidan, of his trauma and inner dilemma are very poignant and I promptly sympathized with the bard and his terrible imprisonment. Seventeen years before he had everything. Cousin to a king, a skilled musician the like of which has not been seen for years, beloved of the gods, “he had been twenty-one, impossibly healthy, and filled with the unutterable joy of spending his life doing what he loved most”.
He is a standard fantasy good guy with a twist, because he’s strong-willed, he clings to life but he has lost any purpose, he is so scarred inside and out that even the simplest things escape his grasp. Filled with the dread of not knowing why he was so harshly silenced, and why he was so suddenly released only to be chased again, his gift lost, he slowly reinvents, embarking in a difficult journey “to unravel the puzzle of his life and find a path that was not solely the way of vengeance”. But how can a man who cannot undo the past and cannot see a future find something to live for, make a sense of his longings, all the while preventing those who help him from dying?
The perspective starts to widen as Aidan learns to be human again, and rises above the most basic instincts. Other characters enter the stage and the mystery behind –and around- the fallen bard grows along with the conflicting interests of the various parties. In the eye of the storm the most powerful weapons in the realm’s arsenal: the dragons and their eerie, enigmatic calls.

To sum up my impressions: the world building is delicate, enough to flesh out the action but it never gets overly detailed. The tale is exquisitely narrated, classic fantasy with some turns which I didn't anticipate for the most part, on the contrary, I was eager to know what was going to happen next, and how. Thinking about it, the tale is simple, yet irresistible. The ending was satisfying and the building of tension to delivery impeccable, the last chapters have a gradual and neat tying up of the plot. The characterization is the forte of the novel, the various sides are not so clear-cut and it was really engaging to read about the clash of cultural heritages and personal interests. The romance subplot is nice, the theme of love has an intriguing take here; the element of music and the ethereal descriptions of the dragons’ mysteries have a strong emotional impact, too.

Beautiful. I can see why a fellow fan of Janny Wurts should not miss this author - and the other way around, too: Berg writes adult fantasy featuring solid plots with great prose, no absolutes and focus on characterization (though Wurts’ style is unmatched). I've liked her short story in the [b:BLACKGUARDS: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues|23156342|BLACKGUARDS Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues|J.M. Martin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1409823447s/23156342.jpg|42703565] anthology, I've read with delight this novel and Transformation, now I think it's high time for more of her skill and imagination, possibly in a multi-POV book.

"I, too, was becoming something new. Something unknown."
( )
  Alissa- | Jun 5, 2015 |
Probably 3.5 stars

I related best to Aidan's character and point of view. Berg used first person throughout the novel, but would switch to alternate characters' point of views at pivotal plot points. Oddly, I did not relate well to the only female character, Lara, and in fact, skimmed through most of the center section of the book told from her eyes.

I had hopes of another stunning story like the Lighthouse Duology, especially through the first third or half of Aidan's tale, yet the tale never quite touched me as deeply as Berg's later work. We learn of Aidan's early life as a musical prodigy and the horrid long senseless imprisonment and torture he survived only by essentially murdering his musical talent. Since our only reference is Aidan's experiences, we slowly learning his history and the history and current state of the world around him.

Released from prison, possibly by mistake, Aidan picks up the pieces of his broken life only to be harried, hounded and hunted across the world until he's rescued by the Elhim, a strange race of people (sexless or asexual and very long lived). Aidan learns he is the hope of salvation and redemption for the Elhim, but rejects the offer and seeks solace for his soul in backbreaking labor, ending each day in exhaustion in the hope of dodging his nightmares.

A faction within the Elhim led by Narim refuses to let Aidan rest. Goaded still further, Aidan leaves the Elhim sanctuary to live with Lara, an exiled Ridemark warrior woman desperate to return to her clan and fly a dragon. Her life long passion as a dragonrider was thwarted by an unspoken clan tradition against female flyers and resulted in her near death when she defied her clan and attempted to control a dragon without proper training or tools.

The Ridemark clans, also known as the Twelve Families, enslaved the dragons five hundred years previously. With these weapons of mass destruction, the Twelve Families make kings flinch and nations beg for mercy. The world suffers under the yoke of their tyranny, veiled behind a facade of service contracts with rival nations, balancing power to maintain dominance.

Narim plots and plans to redeem himself and his people. Lara assists him readily, for she owes her life to Narim. But Aidan seeks only peace and love and eventually freedom for all, starting with the dragons.

Together and separately they twist and tangle and triumph in strange and glorious ways. Never underestimate the power of love or music.
( )
  mossjon | Mar 31, 2013 |

Definitely popcorn fare. But satisfying popcorn fare.

What I like the most about it is that Berg doesn't make it too fairy-tale. The dragons? They're angry, hateful, horrible beasts, caught in a web they haven't been able to escape from, but still not cuddly monsters by any stretch of the imagination. Her protagonists are extremely flawed people, and she changes up their allegiances, hopes and dreams at almost every step of the way. That's what keeps it interesting to read. She may not be the most skilled fantasy writer in the world, but she knew how to create this story and create it well. I enjoyed it for precisely what it was. ( )
  khage | Feb 20, 2012 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Carol Bergautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Arthur, JeremyNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Christie, ClaireNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Stawicki, MattArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Youll, StephenArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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This one is, as always, for the Word Waever past and present and all they bring to their reading. And it's well past time to raise a glass to my editor, Laura Anne Gilman, and her nose fro nuance - no spackle!- and my agent Lucienne Diver for her encouragement, enthusiasm and expertise. But ostly and entirely for the one who completes my being.
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Brutal imprisonment has broken Aidan McAllister. Once the most famous musician of his generation, celebrated as a man beloved of the gods, his voice is now silent, his hands ruined, his music that offered beauty and hope to war-torn Elyria destroyed. Even the god who nurtured his talent since boyhood has abandoned him. But no one ever told him his crime. To discover the truth, he must risk his hard-bought freedom to unlock the mind of his god and the heart of his enemy.

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