Review Blog

Sep 18 2019

The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

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Warrior Bards book 1. Pan Macmillan Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9781760783297.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Coming of age, Music. I am always thrilled when a new book comes from Juliet Marillier. The harp of kings is a wonderful fantasy set in the same world as her Blackthorn and Grim novels, and incidentally letting the reader know what happened to them after the conclusion of that series. Told in three voices, that of sister Liobhan and brother Brocc, musicians and warriors and Dau a young warrior, the story opens with their training on Swan Island, each hoping to be chosen as one of the this elite fighting group. The three are selected to go on a mission to retrieve the Harp of Kings, which has gone missing. It is an ancient instrument that is always played when a new king is crowned and it is feared that the kingdom will be thrown into chaos if it is not at the coronation ceremony.
Liobhan is a tall, strong spirited young woman who is determined to become the best warrior in her group. Brocc, too, is a strong warrior but also totally immersed in his music, always making up new songs that play constantly in his head. Dau is a handsome young man who harbours secrets about his past, which he longs to leave behind him. All three have an important part to play in deciding who to trust and how to act in a spirit of wisdom and justice as their quest grows more dangerous.
Faced with the difficult choice of following their mission and allowing the unsuitable Crown Prince to become or doing the right thing by the kingdom, all three will have to examine their hearts and heed the needs of both fae and human as they attempt to retrieve the harp.
I raced through this book and finished it in a couple of sessions, as the action and suspense about what will happen to the three main characters was gripping. A second re-read, at a more leisurely pace, gave me the opportunity to see the flaws and growth of the team, the perils that they faced and also gave me time to think about the qualities that a good person would demonstrate as a leader.
I also manage a re-read of the Blackthorn and Grim series, so I had a most satisfying dose of high fantasy set in ancient Ireland. Marillier's books will appeal to readers who enjoy books by Sharon Shinn, Robin McKinley and Robin Hobb.
Pat Pledger

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