Liobhan is an eighteen-year-old singer and whistle player. She is highly skilled and such skill runs in the family as her brother, Brocc, has a meltingly beautiful singing voice and unusually adept skills on the harp. But Liobhan wants more than the life of a performing artist. She wants to be a warrior. She and Brocc train on Swan Island with an elite band of warriors and there they receive a special assignment that is suited specifically to their talents.
A rare harp has gone missing. It is a symbol of ancient kingship and if it is not played during the coronation ceremony for the new king, the people will not accept his rule as legitimate.
Liobhan and Brocc will go undercover as musicians to perform at the ceremony while they try to find what happened to the harp. They will find more than they bargained for and Liobhan will find that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ aren’t as cut and dry as she thought and she will have to make some hard decisions in order to follow through on her mission.
I knew nothing about author Juliet Marillier prior to this, but the basic story appealed to me. I’m always a sucker for incorporating music and musicians into a book so this really looked like something I’d enjoy.
The music and spy aspects of the story blended together better than I expected they would. We get both stories (talented music/clever spies) and Liobhan and Brocc navigate back and forth easily. Music is a deep part of who they are as people, and the spying is their profession. Marillier keeps the reader well mindful of what is happening and what our protagonists are thinking and planning.
Though there is a solid story here, this definitely seems to be more of a character-driven book rather than story-driven … which I like. Connecting with these characters (specifically Liobhan) brought me deeper into the story.
There was some cleverness to the mystery and wonder behind the missing harp, but for the most part this plot point just felt – “eh.” It’s a good thing we care about the characters!
The book seems to be written for young adults. There’s nothing wrong with that, other than it doesn’t get too deep into anything and there has to be some sort of romance that comes front and center at some point.
I enjoyed this and I’d read more.
Looking for a good book? The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier is a YA fantasy blending music and spy/thriller themes for a fast-paced story.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, thought Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Harp of Kings
author: Juliet Marillier
series: Warrior bards #1
publisher: Ace Books
paperback, 448 pages