K.M. Frontain's Reviews > Bard of Pain

Bard of Pain by Dusk Peterson
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it was amazing

(First reviewed on my blog in 2008.)


This is a special review for me. First of all, Dusk Peterson, like me, is a self-published author. Second, Dusk has worked hard to publish a quality story, done the footwork necessary to knowing how to self-publish, shared the knowledge gained from that footwork, given stories to beta readers for criticism, polished those stories and polished them again.

I was one of Dusk’s beta readers. Bard of Pain is not the only story by Dusk that I’ve read. A few years back, I also “beta’d” Mystery and Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon). Dusk has been kind enough to list me as an editor of Bard of Pain before I could in fact claim to be one. I’m honoured to have read these stories, let alone have Dusk consider my opinions of them. I learned from this author. I had surprises while reading, surprises that inspired.

In all three stories, I discovered compelling characters who were confronting problems capable of destroying a human being, sometimes physically, definitely mentally. But there’s something very special about Dusk’s dark fic. Dark, very, but there’s this smidgen of light in every cavern Dusk throws a reader, and the brightness of that light is practically overwhelming by the time you get to the end of the novel, and it is like crawling to the opening of a cavern. It’s like getting a miracle.

I’m not exaggerating. Follow any of Dusk’s protagonists through a story and you’ll not only glimpse the mind of a troubled being, you’ll see that character’s transformation. You’ll witness a moment of revelation. Sometimes, just like the character, you won’t see the revelation coming. You’ll feel it looming, but you just won’t see it. It’ll be like rocks tumbling out of the way, unveiling that light I spoke of.

Bard of Pain is a story about a young man who seems to exist to torture people. Warfare makes it easier for him to enact his blackest desires. He becomes an officer and serves the Northern Army as a torturer, though extracting information from prisoners is hardly the most satisfying or true reason for which he commits atrocities on another human being.

When you read Bard of Pain, you might find yourself despising the protagonist, but you’ll be fascinated all the same. Surely, he’s going to be damned for all his evil acts. Surely, he’ll get what he deserves.

He does.

Oh, spoiler, right? No, not really. Read the story. Let Dusk throw you in a cavern and tumble some rocks for you. That promised bit of light I mentioned beforehand? It’s well worth chasing.
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