Verdict: KING OF THE BLIND is a highly entertaining tale--part memoir, part historical fantasy--which welcomes readers into a bygone era of music and magic, a world of good friends and whiskey, where the loss of sight becomes the gain of so much more.
Young Edward Sutler, on the run from the Redcoats for murder, finds a safe haven in the home of the centenarian, Hugh Connor. While plying the young man with copious amounts of whiskey from his fireside seat, Hugh regales his listeners with the story of his erstwhile master, Turlough O’Carolan, considered by many to be Ireland’s greatest harper. Struck blind by smallpox in his youth during the 17th century, the harper changed his fortune by mastering a craft that welcomed him into the homes of nobles and peasants alike, playing true Irish tunes he claimed were inspired by the Good Folk.
From the moment Edward pulls the trigger until the end of old Hugh’s reminiscence, the reader is swept along on a journey that is as entertaining as it is well-crafted. The fantastical elements and the appearance of the Good People at certain key points in the story are enough to keep fantasy readers satisfied, while painting a picture of the political upheaval and the struggles of the Irish common folk during the 16th and 17th centuries that lovers of historical fiction would also enjoy.
Turlough and Carolan are both amusing characters, and the banter by the fireside in old Hugh’s house immediately draws the reader in and makes them feel as if they are there too, sipping on a whiskey, listening to an old man tell his life’s story. Although the author does an incredible job of setting the atmosphere of the time and of Carolan’s performances, one wishes the novel could be accompanied by a CD to listen to while reading. To hear SheeBeg SheeMor while Carolan performs it in the novel, or Carolan’s Concerto, or King of the Blind, would have been the ultimate reading experience.
It must also be noted that, while well-written, the novel does suffer from some punctuation and proofreading errors that detract from the overall enjoyment, although most readers would probably never notice while so enthralled by this fantastic story.
KING OF THE BLIND is a highly entertaining tale–part memoir, part historical fantasy–which welcomes readers into a bygone era of music and magic, a world of good friends and whiskey, where the loss of sight becomes the gain of so much more.
~Suneé Jones for IndieReader