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The Lark and the Wren

(Bardic Voices #1)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  9,127 ratings  ·  165 reviews
Ghost and bard...

With the proper schooling young Rune would be one of the greatest bards her world has ever seen. Even if only she knows it. Unfortunately, the daughter of a tavern wench at the Hungry Bear, no matter how talented, doesn't get much in the way of formal training. What she does get is frustrated.

One night, to back up a brag she probably wouldn't have made if
Mass Market Paperback, 488 pages
Published September 9th 1993 by Baen Books (first published 1991)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,127 ratings  ·  165 reviews

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Feb 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya
Spunky gal Rune is teased in her generic medieval European village! Oh noes, but at least she has her music. In fact, she's so good that she wins a fiddling contest against an ancient and malevolent ghost. Buoyed by her success, she enters the Bardic Trials to become a licensed bard. BUT! She's a girl! And girls can't be bards! OPRESHUN! She wins the competition, but when she reveals her gender they beat her and cast her out. Luckily, she impressed Talyeson and the Free Bards. They take her on, ...more
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
A very pleasant read. I liked Rune, although I did find her a bit judgmental at times. The first three quarters of the book were a bit slow, but the final quarter was a lot more entertaining. A nice way to spend a few hours.
Aug 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I read this on a plane while on my way to visit a prospective college. I recall this because it marked the point at which I became too old for Mercedes Lackey.
I'd half remembered being really into one Mercedes Lackey book as a kid and finally decided to track it down. I do think it was this one, but I won't mark it as a re-read since it was basically new to me.

It's kind of an odd story. The first half is a coming of age story, really. Then it switches into a not very well built love story (though I think I liked it a lot as a kid) and then into . . . a political story, almost. So it's basically like 3 different stories that don't really fit that well
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ebook
And I've been hungry, cold, nearly penniless. I fiddled for the Skull Hill Ghost and won. If the Ghost didn't stop me, neither will Brother Pell. No one will. Not ever.
Excellent light fantasy with strong female protagonist. Rune does the best she can with what she has, which is an amazing musical talent. Supporting and conflicting characters are well-developed, if stereotypical.
What is it about the Church that it spawns both the saint and the devil? Then he shrugged. It wasn't that the Church sp
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
What is bard's magic and how does one become a bard? What is a difference between a bard and a minstrel? Read and find out as you follow a young girl Rune on a quest to become a bard. It is a Mercedes Lackey book, which means there is nothing wrong with it from a technical point of view. My problem with it: it is actually 3 books in one with Rune traveling from one location to another. As soon as she leaves, the people and events of previous location are completely discarded and almost never men ...more
Lark of The Bookwyrm's Hoard
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Lark and the Wren is the first in the Bardic Voices series, but it reads like a standalone, in that it basically completes the main character’s story. In fact, it’s more like two books in one. The first half deals with Rune leaving her village (where she is unappreciated and unwanted) to find a music teacher who can prepare her for the Bardic Guild trials; it covers both her adaptation to life in a small city and her musical and nonmusical education. The second half deals with what happens a ...more
LG (A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions)

This book is set in a fantasy world that is very much like Europe sometime in the past.

Rune has spent her entire young life working at a small inn. When work slows down and customers request it, she can do what she loves - play her fiddle. After the inn's owner's kind wife dies, however, Rune gets fewer opportunities to play, and townsfolk start treating her worse. When her mother begins jockeying to become the inn's owner's next wife, Rune wonders what will become of her.

A dare prompts
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Rereading this for the New Year. So fun!!
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I had fun reading this book. It’s a light and fluffy fantasy story, but I enjoyed the writing, the story, and the characters. The main character, a girl named Rune, is a teenager living at an inn where her mother and she both work. From a young age she showed a gift for music and taught herself to play the fiddle, with the help of various traveling musicians who stopped by their inn and were remarkably generous in teaching her how to play different songs. She often played these songs for the inn ...more
Lara Lee
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-blog-books
The blurb for this book was just an excerpt from one of the most important scenes in this tale. It described the main character, Rune, playing her fiddle for the Ghost of Skull Hill. This is also the image on the cover. I was hooked. 

Mercedes Lackey is a master writer with over 140 published novels, and the quality of her stories are reliable. This novel tells the story of a fourteen-year-old girl named Rune who is the illegitimate daughter of a tavern wench. Rune struggles to learn the fiddle w
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book when I was even younger than Rune, and it's surprising to realize how much it set the stage for my own beliefs - cultural, political, etc. There's the criticism of the Church, of people who abuse power structures, even the explanation of why taxes are important; a lot of stuff that I've taken to heart.

The book itself is a pretty straightforward coming-of-age, which as others have said turns into a romance novel (and political drama) in the second half. I never managed to
Sep 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I read most of Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series when I was younger. When I saw this book on a shelf at the used bookstore I thought I'd give it a chance. I can definitely feel a lot of the same style (not surprising) that is in Valdemar, and the worlds are set in similar king/magic/feudal fantasy land. Unfortunately, this book is more optimistic than I can really find believable, even for a fantasy novel. Nothing particularly bad ever happens, and the obstacles that are put in the way of the ma ...more
May 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a reread of a book I loved when I was a young teen. I lost the book and didn't remember who wrote it. But I thought of it fondly and was excited to find it again. I guess the saying is right you can never go back.
It is simplistic. Not much plot. Everything works out a little too perfectly for Rune. Not enough tragedy in her life to be the Cinderella tale it tries to be. She also comes across as a little...young now. A little bratty and arrogant. My favorite part of the book used to be
Apr 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Read August 2, 2014


Read 2009: As the first of the Bardic Voices, it was a bit confusing as to what was going on (world set up and all that). Still, the characters are true to Mercedes Lackey (full of passion, life, goals and good-will) and the plot moves forward pretty well, although at some points I had to really wonder if the whole "mystical" aspect (ghosts, for instance) really fit. At the end, though, everything made one complete circle and it was just awesome.

Also, the romantic love-sto
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
I always get the feeling that some high fantasy authors crank out books without much of a quality check. Just mix a few mythical creatures, magic, a quest or conspiracy, and a powerful person or two traveling incognito, and you basically have a fantasy novel. It can be done well, I guess, but The Lark and The Wren reminded me somewhat of an average story: entertaining if skimmed, containing a few frustrating cliches, and not quite meeting my standard.
Lackey utterly ignores the old advice to show, not tell. The book suffers for it.

And the pacing in this thing is an utter mess. The plot meanders and stumbles and wheezes along and is just weirdly disjointed.

There are germs of something better here, but this is like a rough draft that hasn't been pared and fleshed out and thoroughly edited.
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
What you have to understand is I really love a lot of Mercedes Lackey's work - but for some reason, the Bardic Voices series left me absolutely cold. I read this book sometime in the mid to late 1990s and then abandoned this series and went back to her Valdemar books. ...more
Nov 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2007, 2011
comfort book left over from high school. YA fantasy at it's best/worst!

Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
You'll really get annoyed with the zealots and the sexism in the countries attitudes in the book, but the book is a blast. This is a number three on the ML rating system. ...more
Kathy Davie
Sep 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Wow! Excellent story. Intense, fascinating. To employ a device...Could. Not. Put. It. Down!
Sep 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
It was kind of like eating a whole box of Kraft Dinner. Starts out amazing, then devolves into what-was-I-thinking. But you know you're going to want it again. Yes you are. ...more
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lackey fans and fantasy fans
I decided to reread an old favorite from about 20 years ago and still love it.
Tim Lucier
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing

I was really pleased with The Lark and the Wren.
A longtime fan of Mercedes Lackey books, for some reason I always had it in my head that Bardic Voices wasn't for me. I think it was the bit about playing for the ghost in the flavour text that seemed to turn me off - and I always wished for her to do a series about Bardic College in Valdemar. Finally, I picked it up and was very pleasantly surprised. Don't know what I was thinking.

In the Lark and the Wren we are introduced to another classic f
2.5 stars rounded down. It's fine, but ultimately not committed enough to any direction.

In one sense it's a bildungsroman about a musically inclined village girl who sets out to prove herself to the Bardic Guild. In another sense, starting about halfway through, it's a more straightforward fantasy adventure. Running through it is some amusingly didactic political opinions, and a very offhand touch to the fantasy elements, that makes the worldbuilding feel somewhat awkward.

The two books it remind
Ria Bridges
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book reads like it was originally a collection of related short stories put together into one longer books, much like Oathbound felt to me, only in this case Lackey managed to avoid the problems that Oathbound faced. The transitions from section to section are smooth, little to no repetition, and by the end it felt very much like I had been with the main character on one long adventure, the ending of which really couldn’t be foretold at the beginning.

However, this book was not without its f
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
1.5 stars.

This book was a hot mess. It has some interesting characters, but three different antagonists, and goes from Bildungsroman to Romance to 'let's foment rebellion against a foreign King', but does it REALLY badly, really messily, and really tiresomely.

One major point against it (aside from the aforementioned) - it has a group of Romani, but the author insists on using the G-word slur about them, both in the 'formal' version and the informal version - which was frankly infuriating.

One mi
Jennifer Brass
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-authors
I read this book soon after it came out in paperback. I loved it and have read it at least three times. Of all three bardic voices books, this one is my favorite. I loved the protagonist Rune. I liked all the people who helped her on her journey. I loved the free bards so much! The story follows Rune who was born to a bar tavern 'worker'. She was fed but not taken care of. She loved music and would sit with the minstrels who would frequent the tavern. She knew she wanted more than her current li ...more
Terralyn Brown Barfield
4 stars ✨
Although I’ve had Mercedes Lackey on my radar for decades, this is my first time reading her. I was hoping for something very much like Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series which is my very favorite off-world saga. The draw of a society with a bard class is something I can never pass up.
I find that I enjoy Ms. Lackey’s writing style. The story line and characters are very appealing. I was impressed enough to order the rest of this series even before I finished this book. The
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I started off dubious of this series. I love Mercedes Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms series and I was hoping to find something with the same style as that. My mother and sister recommended this series so I definitely was willing to give it a try. The first couple chapters of The Lark and the Wren the main Character Rune AKA The Lark is a teenage girl in a small town, I had a hard time getting connected with her as a character but I stuck with the story and I'm very glad that I did. The story tak ...more
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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & M ...more

Other books in the series

Bardic Voices (5 books)
  • The Robin & The Kestrel (Bardic Voices, #2)
  • A Cast of Corbies (Bardic Choices, #1; Bardic Voices, #2.5)
  • The Eagle & the Nightingales (Bardic Voices, #3)
  • Four & Twenty Blackbirds (Bardic Voices, #4)

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