Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who _____ (are musically inclined, have lost someone, have depression, who grow up poor, etc.). .
I chose Books with Characters Who Are Musically Inclined, because music is my other passion (besides reading), and I love reading about singers and other musicians. What surprised me was how few books I came up with; I expected to have to cull from a much longer list.
Click on the cover to see the book on Goodreads. Click the title link (if any) to read my review.
The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear (Patrick Rothfuss): Kvothe is a highly-skilled musician and composer, particularly on the lute. He’s also a storyteller, a brilliant student, a mage, a thief, a bit of a trickster, and a highly unreliable narrator. All by the tender age of 15 or 16. He’s awesome.
Seraphina and Shadow Scale (Rachel Hartman): Seraphina is a highly-gifted court musician and composer, and a human-dragon halfbreed – something her world barely admits is possible, and views with loathing.
The Lark and the Wren (Mercedes Lackey): Rune is a highly-gifted musician and composer who runs away from home to find musical training – but not until after she survives the murderous Skull Hill Ghost by playing for him all night.
Dragonsong & Dragonsinger (Anne McCaffrey): Menolly is a highly-gifted musician and composer (are you seeing a pattern here?) who runs away from home because they forbid her to play and sing, and ends up apprenticed to the Masterharper of all Pern. (The third book, Dragondrums, focuses more on her young friend Piemur.)
Magic’s Pawn, Magic’s Promise, Magic’s Price (Mercedes Lackey): Vanyel is a nobleman’s son and pretty good musician. He wants desperately to become a Bard… but he doesn’t have the Bardic Gift. After a magic experiment goes tragically wrong, killing his lifebonded lover and blasting open his Gifts (magical and musical), Vanyel becomes a Herald-Mage of Valdemar. But music is still an important part of his life. (Warning: the last half or third of the final book contains a rape scene, emotionally rough though not graphic, and the book doesn’t end very happily. But it’s still a good series.)
The Prydain Chronicles (Lloyd Alexander): Fflewddur Fflam is a nobleman who passes himself off as a Bard… and he’s an absolutely terrible musician. His harp has two peculiar properties: the strings break if Flewddur lies or exaggerates (which he does with hilarious regularity), and it can play itself (after he’s given a very special string.) Flewddur isn’t the main character, but he is a continual delight – and much braver and nobler than he or anyone else realizes. (review)
The Sorcerer of the North (John Flanagan) Newly-promoted Ranger Will Treaty poses as a jongleur to carry out a spying mission. He’s passable, but not great… but the recurring joke as everyone calls his mandola a lute and Will tries to correct them is rather fun.
Photo Finish (Ngaio Marsh) La Sommita, a flamboyant opera singer who epitomizes the “diva” stereotype (and based in part on Maria Callas), is murdered on an island during a storm, with both Inspector Alleyn and his artist wife Troy in residence, thus presenting a closed-circle mystery that Alleyn must solve. Almost everyone except the Alleyns has a motive, but the prime suspect is the paparazzo “Strix”, who is apparently on the island – either in disguise or in hiding.
The Horn of Roland (Ellis Peters) – Before he became a well-known composer, Lucas Corinth worked with the Resistance in the Alps during the war. He has returned to debut his latest and greatest work, “The Horn of Roland”. But someone from the past has vowed to kill him for betraying one of his wartime colleagues. (Corinth isn’t the only musician; there’s also a struggling horn player plucked from obscurity to play the horn solo, and a blind fiddler.) This isn’t the best of Peters’ mysteries, but I enjoy it; it has an almost Mary Stewart-like feel, except that Lucas is as important a character as his daughter Una, the heroine. Other Peters mysteries featuring music and musicians are Black is the Color of My True Love’s Heart (which I love!) and the wonderful The Piper on the Mountain (review.)
Simply Unforgettable (Mary Balogh): Francis Allard is an incredibly gifted soprano, so why is she hidden away, teaching music at a small girls’ school in Bath? After fate throws them together for a single, unforgettable night, nobleman Lucius Marshall is determined to pursue her – and give her voice the opportunity to shine – regardless of her protestations. I love Balogh’s historical romances, and this is a good one.
The Melendy Quartet (Elizabeth Enright): Russ, the second-eldest sibling, plays the piano and composes.
Eight Cousins and A Rose in Bloom (Louisa May Alcott): Rose’s maid and friend, Phoebe, beomes a singer, but she’s not a major character.
Exile’s Song (Marion Zimmer Bradley) Marguerida Alton is a musician, and that brings her to Darkover, the nearly-forgotten planet of her birth.
The Copper Crown and The Silver Branch (Patricia Keneally-Morrison) Secondary character and main love interest Gwydion is a master Bard – among his many other talents.
I’m pretty sure I’ve missed some good books – so please tell me your favorite books about musicians in the comments!