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NetGalley Review: The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

Hey all, Sam here.

Hello, and how are you doing this fine day? We’re getting ready to head into the weekend, and honestly I’m pretty darn excited to get to tomorrow’s Weekend Writer post, as well as the other book reviews I have coming Saturday and Sunday. I’m trying to get myself caught up on the NetGalley reviews so I can get my review percentage up to a more respectable level. Of course, I’m getting nearer to the point where I’m going to run out of books that I’ve actually read already…well NetGalley books anyway. Thankfully there’s plenty of books I’ve read over the past couple years that I haven’t been able to talk about yet, so I’m not worried about running out of content any time soon.

I read this particular book back in September 2020…and yet I’m just now getting around to writing up the review. And I already know I’ll want to re-read this book before I continue reading this series, because I do want to keep reading it.

Anyway, let’s go ahead and jump into the review.

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. . . .

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

Look, so I thought this book would be an okay read, a decent read, but honestly it ended up being better than my expectations. Now this wasn’t my first Juliet Marillier, although it had been a number of years since I’d read anything by the author. I remember picking up Wildwood Dancing back when I was in college…so probably around 2007 or 2008.

This story, this whole series, is set in a magical version of Ireland. Now, with all the folklore and myth, Ireland already feels like a pretty magical place. So this is sort of a fantasy lite world and story that somehow still has the feel of a new world more mythic or epic type fantasy.

Following Liobhan and her brother through their training and wanting to become warrior bards made for an interesting beginning, and obviously they face their own sets of struggles among their fellow candidates. I really loved the idea of warrior musicians who are also trained as spies. And then add in the history and myth of the world, bringing in the Harp of Kings, it just made the story even more interesting.

Honestly I can say that the story was so interesting to me that I still think fondly about my reading experience even a couple years later, which is always a nice thing to say about books, that you still think about it months or years later, and if you’re lucky those thoughts lead to multiple re-reads. This book deserves a re-read.

And yes, okay, as I stated at the beginning of this post, I read this book a couple years ago, so I definitely need a refresher. But I admit that part of me wants to start from the very beginning with reading Juliet Marillier, to read the Sevenwaters series and then Blackthorn & Grim and Warrior Bards. But we’ll see what happens. I have such high ambitions for what I’d like to accomplish with reading, but I’m still coming out of a reading slump and I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.

Well, that is all from me for today. Thank you so much for stopping by, and I’ll be back soon with more geeky content.


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