Review: Juliet Marillier – The Harp of Kings (N)

The Harp of Kings

Juliet Marillier

Liobhan and Brocc are brother and sister in training to join the elite Swan Island warriors. They are selected to go on an undercover mission during their training due to their musical abilities. To find the magical Harp of Kings that has been stolen and return it so that the new King can be coronated. However, there is more going on than they realise. 

This book pretty much grabbed me at the start and didn’t let me go until I finished the story. The overall story line was recover the king selection mcguffin to allow the Crown Prince to be formally crowned king. The details are always more involved, a crown prince who doesn’t want what’s best for his kingdom, druids who know more than they wish to tell, and a child who gave Liobhan the hints of what is really going on. The Celtic air of this novel is really engaging. The inclusion of the Fae, not in their all powerful, mess with humankind selves is woven in masterfully. A dwindling race that are fighting to keep themselves safe, their presence slowly fading from the world.

The 3 main characters are Liobhan and Brocc, as mentioned. the third is another warrior candidate on the island Dau. At the start of the book I was all set to hate Dau, and perhaps in any other novel I would have. But the sections where Dau was the PoV character gave such an insight into him that I couldn’t really dislike him. The character complexity for all the characters was something that not only surprised me but was also the reason I couldn’t put the book down while reading. Nor was it just Dau, each character was fleshed out with strengths and flaws. One of the my favourite scenes was Liobhan’s self-awareness. She has a temper, and she could recognise when that would do more harm than good to her goals was wonderfully refreshing. It would have been harder to not connect to the characters given the realistic take. The last character Brocc it was clear there is so much more to his back story as well.

The ending comes with Liobhan completing the tasks set for her, and the group ensuring that the harp of kings is found and that the king is crowned. It sounds like a very straight-forward story. But the way the characters interact are what really drives the reader. I just wanted to know what happened next. The final notes of the book were heartbreaking in the best way possible. I honestly couldn’t have given this anything other than 5-stars.

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