The Lost Bard of Taliyaven by Helena S. George is a Christian fantasy novel that follows the story of Masha, a villager who is forced to flee her hometown when a neighboring country invades. As Masha and her people flee to the city, Masha’s brother, Denis, is captured, but Masha makes it to the city and gets a job as a maid to the princezná, Katarína. Through her journey, Masha meets several other characters including Duren Akszenyuk, captain of the west band of warriors, and Zoya Zvonimira, the heir of Kazan Vyselki. Masha quickly bonds with the warriors of the west band and finds herself an integral part of the impending war.
The novel is divided into chapters and parts; each chapter focuses on a different character and is told from his perspective. Part 1 was a little hard to follow and left me confused, but Part 2 introduced Masha’s story, which quickly gripped me. The Lost Bard of Taliyaven has a steady plot pace and is suspenseful as there are several mysterious elements throughout the novel. Duren especially is a mysterious character, and I enjoyed learning about him.
All of the characters are very realistic and complex, and I enjoyed watching them develop as their stories progressed. Masha was my favorite character, and I had to resist the urge to skip ahead and read only the chapters about her. She was the easiest character for me to identify with and understand because she too is thrust into a new world and is learning about it alongside the reader. I enjoyed seeing Masha and her relationship with the other warriors develop.
The Lost Bard of Taliyaven has several Christian themes, and faith is an important part of the novel. Not all of the characters are Christians, which leads to a variety of perspectives. Despite their struggles, Masha and Denis hold to their faith, which makes them both admirable. Masha looks to God for guidance and grows to trust Him more. Further, the message Masha hears in church that God never forsakes his people and is always with us is a poignant reminder to Christian readers. The interaction between Masha and Duren’s brother, Valentín, towards the end of the novel especially stood out to me; Valentín encourages Masha that God will continue to protect her as He has protected her thus far. Hence, the Christian themes in The Lost Bard of Taliyaven resonated with me, and I enjoyed seeing Masha’s faith develop.
Even though I enjoyed all of the characters and their stories, this novel is a little hard to follow. I struggled to keep track of each character’s story, especially when there was a gap between chapters about that character. Some parts, mainly towards the beginning, switched to a new cast of characters. Also, the novel’s use of foreign names and terminology was different for me and a little difficult to keep up with. I do not read many fantasy novels, and I am not sure if that is why I struggled to keep track of the story or not.
The novel’s ending shocked me; the ending battle was somewhat violent and full of surprises. While it leaves a few plot points hanging, I found the ending satisfactory. I recommend The Lost Bard of Taliyaven to ages sixteen and up, and I look forward to the sequel coming later this year.
Young Adult Blogger
Kathryn Dover lives in South Carolina with her family including six cats (and counting!), a dog, two fish, and many house plants. She attends Presbyterian College and is currently planning to double major in Math and Creative Writing. Kathryn loves writing, especially plays, and she completed and performed her first play, The Sexton, at 14. She’s not sure what she wants to do as a career, only that she wants to write, but is trusting that God has a plan for her life to use her in a powerful way. College takes up most of her time, but in her free time, she likes to read, play with her pets, and grow plants.