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… (Goodreads)
I received an ARC of The Harp of Kings from Netgalley and from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Harp of Kings needs trigger warnings for alcoholism, abusive siblings, child neglect, dead parents, on page attempted sexual assault, and on page victim blaming.
I have been a fan of Juliet Marillier’s work for more than a decade. I’ve read every single one of her books, which might be the reason I’ve had this problem with the last few that I’ve read, in which I feel like I’ve already read them and know exactly what’s going to happen. It happened for the entire Blackthorn & Grim series, and unfortunately, it colored my experience with The Harp of Kings.
One of Marillier’s strengths has always been her characters, and that was enough to keep me reading the last series, but they fell flat for me, here. Liobhan, Brocc, and Dau were interesting enough, but we barely got to scratch beneath the surface for any of them. The character I was most interested in was Mistress Juniper, which says something when I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Marillier’s main female characters in every single Sevenwaters book.