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Four & Twenty Blackbirds Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1998
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From Kirkus Reviews
First hardcover appearance for Lackey's Bardic Voices series (The Eagle and the Nightingales, etc.). In the city of Haldene, constable Tal Rufen ponders a string of brutal murders. The victims are all poor street-musician girls, but Tal's clues are confusing: The perpetrators are also all dead (they always commit suicide right after carrying out a murder); in every case, the weapon is a knife with a characteristic blade, but somehow it invariably vanishes from the crime scene; as for the weather, it's always raining--because water washes away traces of magic? Confronted with indifference by his superiors (the cases are, after all, technically solved), Tal resigns when the murders stop and heads for Kingsford, a city in chaos where such crimes could go undetected. Sure enough, the murders begin again. Tal, now working for High Bishop Ardis, investigates and eventually discovers that a mage named Rand, who has the ability to transform himself into the Black Bird, seeks revenge for perceived wrongs done him in the past. And so he has orchestrated the murders as a means of enhancing his magical powers. Between the leisurely setup and the protracted windup lie hundreds of pages of verbose twiddling. Only fans who need everything spelled out in the tiniest detail will stick around. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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There is a serial murderer in Kingsford and they need a BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) to catch him. Constable Tal is assigned to the case by Justiciar Ardis. Together they gather a team and pursue the unsub. At the end of the book, there is a hint of more adventures to come. I certainly hope there will be!
This story harks back to an incident in Misty's The Lark and the Wren and answers the question "and then what happened?" after that incident.
I've read *exactly* one other of Mercedes Lackey's books - The Firebird, which bored me to tears.
Undaunted, I read the first 2 chapters of this book on-line several years ago, managed to get into the story, and after requesting this book as a Christmas present for several years, finally decided to get it on my own.
I have not read any of the other Bardic Voices books, so I can't comment on there not being any Free Bards within the story (they are occasionally referred to). What I liked about this story is that it's a combination mystery and fantasy, as another poster has said. Yes, you do find out who the murderer is about halfway through, but I was intrigued enough by that point to keep going, to see what made this mage tick, why he/she wanted to go after Ardis. It was also interesting when the mage decides to change tactics near the end of the book. The way it was written, it made complete sense to me.
On another note, I found Ardis's grappling with staying in the Church to be realistically written, and it actually moved me at certain points.
With the current situation in the world, plus my own personal strife, this book saw me through a depressing period in my life. So, to sum it up, this book is a fine way to lose yourself in an interesting world.
I saw the end coming a few chapters ahead, but it was written in an entertaining enough manner to keep me connected & entertained.
A fun late night book.