Goldsong by Beth Hudson
A reluctant king. A legendary harp. A city divided.
Traedis Atenel never expected to find herself a king. When she fled her city and her family, all she wanted was to become a bard and make her own way in the world. Now, touched by strange magic and harrowed by imprisonment, she rules the city she once hated.
Despised by its people, she embarks on a mission to reform what was once known as the City of Assassins. After all, she has spoken with gods, walked with dragons, and learned the mysteries of bardic magic. When a demon comes calling, it reawakens a curse that could destroy Traedis and her city.
Supported by her sister Vandeyr, a former assassin, and with the aid of an enchanted harp, Traedis uncovers long-buried secrets and forges alliances where she least expects them. But elemental spirits, ghosts, and hostile powers stand in her way. Some of them will help her. Some will oppose her.
Some of them are certain to be from her own family.
Get ready for some old school fantasy literature with Goldsong! This novel is the first in a series, and it hits on all the classic elements one expects in a good fantasy story. Magic and mystical creatures, epic threats, and a hero with a mysterious story all come to life in Beth Hudson’s first novel in the Sagathas Bard series.
Traedis Atenel has just become king of Tolin, and the threats facing her are endless. First: the state of Tolin which has just been ravaged by a demon. Then, her people, who are primarily assassins and unhappy with her new laws. Finally, and by far the worst, is her family. Using her complex musical magic and hoping for the aid of others, can Trae not only save but redeem her city before too many lives are lost?
There’s so much to unpack with this novel. Right off the bat we meet three clashing characters: Trae, her sister Vandeyr, and Trae’s friend Ruth. While Ruth and Trae have some backstory that hasn’t yet been explained, it’s clear that the two of them are on the same team with the smiles and support they share. Then, enter Trae’s sister, a notorious assassin and someone Trae isn’t yet sure she can trust but needs as a captain of her new guards. The tension and banter between the three of them is very clever and helps bring to light things from Trae’s complicated past.
The setting of Goldsong primarily takes place in Tolin, with Trae spending time in the rooms of her mansion and then a secret section of the city’s library. Hudson has vivid descriptions that place you in each location, and she does an amazing job with the authenticity of her scenes: the clothes characters wear, the style of buildings and interior decorations. Even the language she uses places you right into a medieval setting!
As for the story itself, this plot doesn’t let up for a single page. Chapter after chapter is filled with different trials for Trae, and while it might seem like one issue is flowing into the next without end, there’s a definite undercurrent hinting at the real antagonist and where this series will go. Hudson’s use of magic and physical fighting give the readers multiple dimensions of Trae and the world she lives in because while everyone has access to both methods, how these individuals use their magic and skills differ based on their motives.
This fast paced and explosive fantasy was a page-turner from start to finish, and I’m beyond excited to see what Hudson writes next for these characters!