Another day, another book review! While I haven’t been reading nearly as much as I want to, I also fell behind on the few books I have managed to read this year, in terms of reviewing them. So, next up are my thoughts on The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier! It’s my first time reading a Marillier novel, which I know a few fellow bloggers love (and the entire reason why I asked for this book for Christmas to begin with).
Let’s check out the review!
Publisher: Ace Books | Release Date: September 2019 | Pages: 448
Age Range: Young Adult | Genre: Fantasy | Format: Paperback | Source: Gift
A young woman is both a bard and a warrior.
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. . .
On the Page
- Abuse, neglect
- Parental, sibling
- Physical assault
- Animal cruelty, abuse and torture
- Animal death
- Child abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Disappearance of a loved one
- Rape (attempted/suggested)
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- Character growth. I was really pleasantly surprised by the character growth. I always liked Liobhan, but I really disliked Dau at the beginning. Yet, he ended up being one of my favorite characters as we got to learn more about him and as he was challenged and grew. I thought the character growth (for all three of our main characters, including Liobhan’s brother, Brocc), was really, really well done.
- Multi-POV structure. Similar to the vein above, I don’t think this could have been told well without the multi-POV structure that it used. Getting to see the perspectives of all three characters was vital to me understanding them and growing to root for them.
- Pacing. I did find myself struggling at times to want to read this book, because it just felt like it took forever to really get the plot moving.
- Myself (again). Also, I pulled a me and didn’t look into anything about this book, aside from, “Hey, book bloggers I know like it, so imma like it, too.” I didn’t realize it was YA until I started reading it and was like, “Um, wow, I know it can blend, but this really feels like a YA read to me…”. Obviously confirmed my own suspicions when I actually looked at the book description. *facepalm* (Not that YA is bad! I just haven’t been into YA as much in the past few years, so I think that’s why I didn’t enjoy this as much.)
Again, another solid 3.5 gem read! Though I felt like it dragged in spots and I had to check my expectations after not doing any digging into the novel, I did generally enjoy it. Plus, it’s the first book that made me cry in a LONG time–like, sitting in my office at work and having to pause to try and not cry harder, type crying. That was really unexpected, but when Dau becomes your favorite character and you learn more about him and a certain, unexpected childhood tragedy, you’ll know why (please head content warnings above, though).
For me, The Harp of Kings was a pleasant read that I don’t regret! After initially finishing the book, I wasn’t chopping at the bit to look into the next one (though, all of the covers are positively gorgeous). Then, I read the blurb and was really shocked by it, so now my interest is quite piqued. I’m not in a rush to read it, but I do think I will. For those who really love YA or love historical fantasy, I do highly recommend this, though!