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The Theory of the Leisure Class (Modern Library Classics)
Thorstein Veblen, Alan Wolfe
The Bards of Bone Plain - Patricia A. McKillip In the nation of Beldan, the princess prefers archaeology to balls, and the roads are traversed by steam-powered horseless carriages. After the princess digs up a strange coin, her friend Phelan begins finding other clues that the riddles and songs he's spent his life memorizing might be magical...and that the metaphorical immortal bard Nairn might be real after all. While Phelan searches through dusty records, a new court bard challenges Beldan's bard. Interspersed with all of this are Nairn's own adventures while learning music and magic generations before. But the past and the present can't stay apart for long...

I love Patricia McKillip's work, but her recent books have a tendency to start strong, build to a confusing climax, and then abruptly end. This book is no exception. Mckillip draws characters with a light, sure hand; her magic feels magical, her plots are believable. If she'd had another hundred pages to tell this story, it would have been impeccable. As it stands, it's merely very enjoyable.