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The Harp of Kings Audio CD – September 3, 2019
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About the Author
Juliet Marillier is the author of several highly popular fantasy novels for adults. She is also the author of the teen novel Wildwood Dancing. She lives in Australia.
- Publisher : Recorded Books, Inc. and Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition (September 3, 2019)
- Language : English
- Audio CD : 1 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1664470468
- ISBN-13 : 978-1664470460
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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There's a third narrator; Dau, who is slightly their adversary as it's a competition to get to stay on Swan Island, however throughout the book as we get to know them and they get to know each other better, they learn one of the crucial skills they'll need if they wish to stay on Swan Island; how to work together, how to appreciate each others strengths, and most importantly, how to listen to each other and value each opinion is on offer.
The three trainees get an excellent opportunity to work on their skills, and that's to work on a job with two actual full members of Swan Island. They're to go to a nearby kingdom that's had something of irreplaceable value stolen, and there's a hard deadline of when they need it back so it can be used in the crowning of the current prince, who is very nearly old enough to take his place as king.
Which is where the 'bards' part of the series comes in. Liobhan and Brocc are known for their incredible voices and skill on the harp and pipes. This is indeed where Brocc excels; although he can hold his own in a fight his true skill is in singing and writing songs, whereas Liobhan is far more skilled in a fight but can hold her on - mainly thanks to practice - in a song.
It's these skills and the fact Liobhan is a woman that makes Dau think neither of them are cut out for Swan Island life, and he himself will hopefully earn a place to stay on the island. He holds himself constantly in strict form, constantly thinking what will help him get closer and closer to earning a place there for good... and it is slowly revealed just why returning home is not an option for him.
Throughout we have an exceedingly readable and enjoyable high fantasy book that is everything one can expect from Marillier's work; bards and songs, herb craft and a healthy respect and caution around fae-type creations, and an enthralling journey of character development across a wide range of types of person. No one in this book is evil or bad (well, they are, however...) they all have multiple facets that show who they are, and why they've reacted in a certain way throughout.
I can't wait for the next book. This book stands by itself incredibly well but I can't wait to see what happens next.
But, I bought a print version from Amazon to read anyway. This is THE Juliet Marillier we are talking about! I own everything she has ever published, and this novel now proudly joins the others in my collection.
This novel is the first in the Warrior Bards series. If you have not yet read Marillier’s Blackthorn and Grim series, ANY review of these books will be a bit of a spoiler for you. (However, this review does NOT contain any spoilers of this particular novel. If you do not plan to read the Blackthorn and Grim series, feel safe to proceed.)
About 20 years after Blackthorn and Grim’s adventures in the previous series, we meet their daughter and son Liobhan and Brocc. Both have joined the elite warrior training program at Swan Island and are competing for the chance to remain on the island as a permanent part of the team. They are at the top of their class and have steep competition from classmate Dau. Despite being trainees, the particular skills of Liobhan, Brocc, and Dau earn them a place on a real mission. Liobhan and Brocc, both accomplished musicians, will act as traveling bards, while Dau must play the role of a mute stablehand. Together, they must discover what has happened to the revered Harp of Kings before the coronation of the prince.
As always, Marillier writes powerful female characters. Liobhan, taking after her father in stature, is a strong woman who can easily win at hand to hand combat against any man, but in her role for the mission, she must suppress these qualities. Although this is not marketed as a Young Adult novel, it would be a fantastic and empowering read (and appropriate in content) for a teenage girl or young woman (unlike the Blackthorn and Grim series, which contains violent scenes and references).
Even when you think you have the ending of a Marillier novel figured out, she will always surprise you. This book is no different. She has woven yet another beautiful web of fantasy and mystery and adventure. The development of the three main characters is exceptional. I don’t know how I will cope while waiting for the next installment in this series!
Her ability to beat the boys is because she's taller than average (hm, not gritty or believable like you get in her Sevenwaters or B&G books. Instead she's the best at everything! Woohoo! Well, that is what fantasy is nowadays so I imagine this book was "written to market."
But worse, Liobhan is extremely irritating. She's so obnoxious and stupid as a character I set the book down many times and had no real desire to finish it. She says being at Swan Island is her ambition but she disobeys the leader of her mission again and again and again. Back in the day of Son of Shadows, she would have been removed from the mission and kicked out. She is no way at the level of her mother or Sorcha in terms of smarts or courage.
Here? Well, since she's a young girl she MUST have all the answers!
Stars are really for the character of Dau. If he had been the lead I would have given five stars. Instead, the most interesting character has to play at dumb mute (so he can be tortured natch) and become Liobhan's love interest.
Okay read, I guess for older YA readers. Those who expect the depth of Sevenwaters or even the interesting storylines of B&G you won't find it. The second book in this series is even more disappointing.
Top reviews from other countries
One of my favourite characters from Juliet Marillier's books has to be Grim, father to two of the main characters in The Harp of Kings. I'm sure that anyone who has enjoyed Den of Wolves (or the two preceding books) will be delighted to read that this wonderful man was given the chance to be not only a great husband, but also a truly great father.
I also loved the link to Inis Eala (Swan Island) first mentioned in Son of Sevenwaters. To be honest, Cionnaola or Art will never be Bran, Gull or Johnny but in time, maybe Liobhan could follow in their footsteps ... I certainly hope there are more stories to come in this series so we can find out.