A young bard must rely on otherworldly know-how to navigate a magical, war-torn kingdom in the first book of an inventive coming-of-age fantasy series.
Alana wasn’t always a child of the Kingdom of Bergond. In fact, she hails from an entirely different world. But an accident on Earth left her dead, and she was reincarnated as the daughter of a farmer and his wife in the hamlet of Orsken. Now, she’s learning how to live in a land vastly unlike that which she came from—and how to wield the new powers she possesses. For, even by the rules of her strange new home, Alana is special: a young bard capable of mending wounds, counteracting poisons, and healing the sick, all through the use of mana and her own mind.
But as she cultivates her newfound abilities through training with various teachers in the magical arts, those around her are struggling. War has torn the empire apart, and famine is disrupting the simple lives of the villagers. When the conflict comes right to their doorstep, Alana is separated from her family and forced to set out on her own. To remain safe and have any chance of reuniting with those she loves, she will need to apply all her cunning, sorcery, and knowledge—both of this world and Earth. Because there are forces that would do anything to control her, and they’re growing ever closer to discovering who and where she is.
Blending elements of traditional and progression fantasy, Melody of Mana is an action-packed and original story of magic, politics, friendship, and intrigue from a thrilling new voice in the genre.
A twenty-something woman from Earth is reborn in a fantasy world. Reborn in the most literal sense. It’s not written in gross detail but there is a first person childbirth scene from the perspective of the baby. This is one of those books that is about a child but isn’t for children. It covers the first twelve or thirteen years of Alanna’s life but she has a young adult’s capacity for using bad words.
The first third of the book is set on a farm, which is very exciting for a fantasy farming fanatic like me. Alanna has to learn girl chores like washing dishes or sweeping, but sometimes the farm needs all hands on deck. She also sometimes goes foraging in the forest with her brothers. Once her magic is discovered, training with the local wizard takes up much of her time.
Alanna is a bard and it’s very much the utility caster type. She learns some healing, create food, create water, and other minor spells that another spellcaster could do better. Magic is rare in this world, so that “other spellcaster” is rarely an option.
I found it hard to keep track of Alanna’s physical age. The narrative reminds us sometimes but she has the mind of an adult so she feels older. The book occasionally changes from Alanna’s perspective to other characters, still first person. The character is made clear at the start of each section and the voices are distinct. A small child won’t be told everything, so it helps give context for things happening around her.
The worldbuilding is cool. Border farms, small towns, big cities, and everything in between all feel distinctly different. Two religious sects are fleshed out as well as several professions. It also has, quite honestly, the most interesting take on fantasy world birth control I’ve ever read.
There is no grand climax or resolution in this book, but also no cliffhanger. It definitely feels like a web serial. The author’s Goodreads lists five books currently.
Content warning: Pregnancy loss