How Sweet the Sound


Meredith Resce

Golden Grain Publishing

Parable, fantasy, romance, allegory: How Sweet the Sound defies categorisation into any tidy or specific box. It is light without being frothy, tender without being syrupy, otherworldly without being unnatural, symbolic without being incomprehensible. Its footprints touch the ground nimbly in a number of genres without planting themselves firmly in any of them.

Resce’s touch is sure and subtle as she tells the story of Christina, the governor’s daughter who is betrothed to Prince Justin, the high king’s grandson. While there will be very few plot surprises for any reader who recognises the interweaving of parables—the tenants in the vineyard, the lost sheep, the talents, the bridegroom and the marriage feast, the good shepherd—with the great gospel themes of fall and redemption, the narrative doesn’t fit any of them so closely that the storyline is entirely predictable.

It clips along in a fluid, easy-to-read style. The characters are afflicted with all the frustrating foibles and frailties that beset most of us. I wanted to knock Mike and Gabe’s heads together every other page. Lovable, but oh so dense! Brawny bodyguards they might have been, but when brains were handed out they must have been temporarily missing-in-action because it’s certain they’re too loyal to ever have dreamt of going absent-without-leave. As for Christina, I wanted to shake some sense into her and yell: Wake up, get a life! How clueless can you get? There are times when it’s hard to like the heroine; she follows neither her head nor her heart.

The province of Terranin has been overrun by rebels. The governor and his wife have been murdered and their daughter Christina taken under the protection of the self-styled emperor, Lucien. A devilishly handsome man with a mesmeric personality, he has a dark repellent side and plans an exquisitely cruel and humiliating revenge on the king who exiled him to Terranin. The king is unaware of what is happening in the province. He has sent several ambassadors but none have returned. A mysterious message arrives informing him that the governor is dead, the ambassadors killed and Christina kidnapped. His grandson Justin persuades him that the best option for Christina’s rescue is not a frontal assault but a clandestine mission which would have the advantage of enabling a true assessment of the situation in Terranin.

Justin has been betrothed to Christina since she was four and he was twelve. When she was fifteen he visited her in disguise to find out her true feelings towards their impending marriage. Having fallen madly in love on that occasion, he is determined that nothing will stand in the way of her release. Nothing, that is, except Christina herself. He is not prepared to force her to do anything she does not want to do and is completely unprepared for the depth of her suspicion towards him. Sometimes true love has to pay a price.

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