The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier


Series: Warrior Bards, Book 1


First, I would like to thank Ace publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a free Kindle ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

But, I bought a print version to read anyway. This is THE Juliet Marillier we are talking about! I own everything she has ever published, and this novel now proudly joins the others in my collection.

Warning: This novel is the first in the Warrior Bards series. If you have not yet read Marillier’s Blackthorn & Grim series, ANY review of these books will be a bit of a spoiler for you. (However, this review does NOT contain any spoilers of this particular novel. If you do not plan to read the Blackthorn and Grim series, feel safe to proceed.) 

About 20 years after Blackthorn and Grim’s adventures in the previous series, we meet their daughter and son Liobhan and Brocc. Both have joined the elite warrior training program at Swan Island and are competing for the chance to remain on the island as a permanent part of the team. They are at the top of their class and have steep competition from classmate Dau. Despite being trainees, the particular skills of Liobhan, Brocc, and Dau earn them a place on a real mission. Liobhan and Brocc, both accomplished musicians, will act as traveling bards, while Dau must play the role of a mute stablehand. Together, they must discover what has happened to the revered Harp of Kings before the coronation of the prince. 

As always, Marillier writes powerful female characters. Liobhan, taking after her father in stature, is a strong woman who can easily win at hand to hand combat against any man, but in her role for the mission, she must suppress these qualities. Although this is not marketed as a Young Adult novel, it would be a fantastic and empowering read (and appropriate in content) for a teenage girl or young woman (unlike the Blackthorn and Grim series, which contains violent scenes and references). 

Even when you think you have the ending of a Marillier novel figured out, she will always surprise you. This book is no different. She has woven yet another beautiful web of fantasy and mystery and adventure. The development of the three main characters is exceptional. I don’t know how I will cope while waiting for the next installment in this series! 

#netgalley #theharpofkings

Audience: young adult
Recommended for fans of: historical fiction, fantasy, Gaelic lore
Trigger warnings: violence

Publisher's Synopsis:

A young woman is both a bard--and a warrior--in this thrilling historical fantasy from the author of the Sevenwaters novels. 

Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan's burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies. 

Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision and is faced with a heartbreaking choice


Purchased copy (though I also received a Netgalley Kindle ARC)

©Ace Books: September 3, 2019
Edition: Paperback
464 pages

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