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September 2, 2019

The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier ~ a Review

by MK French

Liobhan and her brother Brocc are on Swan Island, candidates in training to be part of the elite forces on the island. Because of their musical talent, they are selected to be part of an undercover mission as traveling minstrels. They have to find the missing harp that was used in the crowning of kings; without it, the people would never accept the coronation as valid. Prince Rodan is hardly the kind of man that would place the concern for his people at the forefront and is afraid of the uncanny. Unfortunately for him, the uncanny is involved in this, as well as court intrigue, a storyteller that acts as a gatekeeper to the Otherworld, and a difficult decision that Liobhan has to make.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

September 2019; Ace Books; 978-0451492784
ebook, print (464 pages); fantasy
The Harp of Kings opens with a pronunciation guide for the Gaelic names, not to worry if you don't know how to pronounce them! The text is very clear as to who is who, as well as what their cover identities are. It's intricately done, starting with the training camps on Swan Island, then moving into the outer world and the kingdom beyond the island's borders. Everyone has their back story and reason for being there, and it's only revealed when important to the plot. The druids, an order with an extensive novitiate training process, keep the knowledge, history, and magic of the natural world. Often, it's secret, and the novitiates are expected to leave their prior lives behind.

Rodan is a spoiled brat with a quick temper and few that can rein him in, but there are few others willing to step up to be King. The magic of the Otherworld is close by, as is the magic of music and the ability to help people in need. They're not necessarily trickster figures, though it's certainly remarked on several times. Brocc's uncanny skill with the harp exists for a reason, and it carries far more significance as the novel progresses. I really loved Liobhan and the princess Aislinn as they struggled to maneuver through the situations they were placed in and still keep their sense of self. I'm so glad that this is the start of a series because I hope to meet them again!

Buy The Harp of Kings at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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