This story is about two main characters. One is a poor bard who is caring for his crippled mentor and gets in trouble with a local crime boss. The other is a traveler from a fantasy version of the orient who is searching for information about a trading expedition from his homeland that was lost to a pirate attack. The two team up after a short while. The setting is a shabby port city during the winter which is a bit gloomy.
The story is well written with good pacing and reasonably interesting characters. It kept my interest and there were occasional fun twists, but it was ultimately a bit unsatisfying. I think that this is because although the confrontation between the heroes and villains was good, there was nothing in the setting or story that was very appealing.
This story makes a good effort at portraying a bard as a main character and at showing bardic magic, but it falls short by not quite showing what makes bardic magic unique from other magic and it does not show the bard's life or outlook as being unique either.