Review :: The Harp of Kings :: Juliet Marillier

October 22, 2019

I hadn't read any of Juliet Marillier's books before The Harp of Kings but had heard lots of good things about her work so was really keen to check it out.
Here's the synopsis (from Goodreads)

Bard. Warrior. Rebel.

Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart and is a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan's burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. While she and her brother are competing for places in this band, they are asked to go undercover as travelling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies. 

Their mission is to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship. If the harp is not played at the upcoming coronation, the heir will not be accepted and the kingdom will be thrown into turmoil. Faced with plotting courtiers, secretive druids, an insightful storyteller and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realises an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the realm. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision - and the consequences may break her heart. 

I feel like this is going to sound a bit strange, but I feel like this was a book where I enjoyed the world building more than actual story. The setting felt so strong and tangible - both in terms of the physical place, but also the structure of the society and the beliefs of those within it.

I think I found the pacing of the plot a bit difficult - while I enjoyed being with the characters it took a while for me to feel involved in their stories. I also thought the book had a very particular narrative style in terms of the voices of the characters - something about the language they use, and the way their words are structured, really makes them feel like they are warriors talking about what happened to them, rather than an author writing a story. This contributed to the authenticity, but also took a little while for me to get used to.

While this makes it sound like I didn't enjoy the book that really isn't true, and I'd pick up a sequel in an instant. The world building really was wonderful, and I feel like now that we know the characters - and their world - the action would kick off pretty quickly. I think this would be an pretty epic series - the kind I'd love to sit down with on holidays so I could just devour book after book. I'm actually planning to do just that with her other books, so I'd love any advice about where to start!

xo Bron

The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier
Out now from Pan Macmillan Australia 
Source: Thanks so much to Pan Macmillan for sending me a free copy for review. 
Category: Fantasy fiction, adventure, folklore
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
RRP: $29.99

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  1. I LOVE me some good world building!
    It's a bit sad that the pacing and plot weren't as good as the world building. But I'm glad to hear that it didn't stop you from enjoying the book, and wanting to pick up the sequel when it comes out.
    Yesss, marathon the books! I can't wait to hear your thoughts!