Legends abound and the truth seems to be just out of sight for Phelan Cle. He’s training to be a bard, and he has one final paper to write before he graduates. He wants to pick a topic he thinks will be easy but finds quite the opposite. First, he must deal with his father, an eccentric who is obsessed with digging into the past. Second, it seems that the more research he does the more riddles he encounters as his research leads him to the life of the bard Nairn the Unforgiven.
Hundreds of years before, Nairn failed to pass the test of the Three Trials of Bone Plain leaving him cursed and immortal. Enough time has passed that Nairn’s story is like a fairy tale. Phelan thinks the story is only an allegory, and he doesn’t believe there was the Bone Plain or any magic in the words that the bard sang much less true immortality. Though when the bard Kelda arrives, Phelan begins to question his own belief.
Kelda is wonderful at his song and music even able to bring his audience to tears, but there is something very ominous about the bard as well. The position of Royal Bard has suddenly opened up and it seems that Kelda should be able to win the competition hands down, but Phelan wants to know the truth behind the menacing Kelda and the legends in The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia A. McKillip. The two stories intertwine between Nairn’s failure and Phelan’s riddles in this descriptive, gentle fantasy.