A stand-alone fantasy book.
Publication year: 2003
Running time: 12 hours, 36 minutes
Narrator: Claire Christie, Jeremy Arthur
Aidan McAllister was wonderful singer and musician even as a child. The hunchbacked god of music talked to him and guided him. Aidan is also a cousin to the King of Elyria but they have so different interests that they aren’t rivals. However, one day when Aidan is 21, he is captured and imprisoned. His judge, who seems to be a Dragonrider, tells Aidan that he can go free if he agrees to be silent for seven years. Aidan resists and at first his god is with him, supporting him when he endures terrible torture. But finally the god’s voice weakens and stops, and Aidan can’t endure the torture anymore.
After 17 years of imprisonment, Aidan is finally free. His voice is a croak, when he can force himself to speak at all, his fingers have been broken so many times that he can’t use them properly, and his back is a mess of scars. He’s also not sure why he was imprisoned and what he should do. He saves Callie, a young prostitute, from an attack and in turn Callie saves him, taking him in. Slowly Aidan starts to mend a little but he still doesn’t know what he had done to earn such terrible things and he’s not really sure if he wants to know.
This book has dragons and I was fascinated by them. Essentially, everyone thinks that dragons are all rage and hate. The Dragonriders use blood stones to control them and ride them to war. Each dragon has one blood stone and they can’t be controlled by another. The Dragonriders themselves are proud and Spartan people. From what we see of them in this book, they live rather joyless lives of duty and honor. They live in tents and have few possessions. They despise people who live differently than they. They still serve the king Elyria so they actually defend people they dislike. They also seem to have a tendency to abuse their position.
I was fascinated by another race: the Elhim. They are a sexless race whom the humans insist on thinking as male and use the “he” pronoun when talking about them. They are very long lived and look so similar to each other that humans can’t tell them apart. They help Aidan for reasons he doesn’t know at first.
The book is written in first person and most of it is written from Aidan’s POV. Later, Berg switches to another person’s first POV. That person is quite a bit more tormented than Aidan and blames herself for her troubles and for failing everyone around her. Berg also has couple of other character’s first person POVs, briefly.
Betrayal is a strong theme in the book and you never know who is going to betray another next. This is quite a somber book with few humorous passages. The plot centers on various mysteries.
The pace is good and I liked the characters well enough. In fact, I couldn’t help but compare Aidan to Bujold’s Cazaril. They’re both older men, both have suffered imprisonment and been broken by it. Both are also physically weak at first. However, I definitely like Caz more. The Song of the Beast also has very few female characters. The one we have is quite tortured character herself, even gloomier than Adrian.