Sing the Four Quarters (The Quarters Novels: Volume 1) – Tanya Huff
Daw Books, Inc., 2007
As a bard of Shkoder Annice is not only a skilled musician, she can call on the elemental kigh with the power of her voice. Recently they have begun to react strangely to her, coinciding with a mysterious illness, and she discovers an unexpected cause: she has fallen pregnant, and in so doing has accidentally committed treason. Because Annice is not only a bard. Ten years ago she was cast off by her furious brother the king after she chose her vocation over a political marriage and in consequence was forbidden to either marry or bear children. Surely, though, he won’t hold her to an edict made when she was only fourteen years old. Then the father of her baby is arrested for plotting a war…
Huff takes the familiar and rather threadbare tale of the outcast princess and makes it her own in a light, enjoyable fantasy that casually throws stereotype on its head with a heroine who is bisexual, pregnant and engaged in a decade-long sibling squabble. The other characters are equally individual and believable, and a matter-of-fact writing style neatly plays up the ironies of the situation. This is the first novel in the Quarters series.