Review: The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards #1) by Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is an author that I have had on my radar for quite some time. Her Sevenwaters series is one that I keep looking at and often debate if it’s the right time to pick it up or not…..but then I put it back down for unknown reasons.

When this one appeared one day in my mailbox I was absolutely thrilled! I normally don’t get a ton of fantasy or YA historical fantasy so I felt privileged to get this one! I was so excited and couldn’t wait to crack it open!

Now that I am finished with this new series, I am absolutely committed to reading her other books come hell or high water!


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. (summery from Goodreads)


This book came in a little on the lower side when it came to writing. I don’t know that I loved the prose but I absolutely loved the characters and the creativeness of this one. The first part of the book was a little slow, but I find that is typical with fantasy books that need to do some world building.

So this book may not have been technically perfect, but there was still a lot for me to enjoy and I liked it enough to want to read the other series as soon as possible! I love the Celtic feel and lore of this book and I think that fans of Celtic culture and history will really enjoy this.

I liked that she took a different approach by making the heroine a badass warrior rather than a traditional role in fantasy for women (witches etc). I thought it added interest and would appeal to a young feminist reader/audience for sure. The alternating POVs were insightful and gave unique perspectives of the same story. I love book with multiple POVs and I think in this case it worked well.

This wasn’t a book that I could rush through and read in a sitting or two. This was a book that I spent quite a few days wading though. As I mentioned the first half was a little slow which kept me from flying though it, but as it started to pick up, I felt satisfied with the pace.

Overall I ended up rating this one as a 3.5. It was good and I would probably read the next book in the series, it was enjoyable and a promising series, but I think that it needed a little more in the way of action in the first half of the book. That said, I would gladly read the next book and all of her others because I am convinced that she is a shining star in this genre and I am sure to love more of her books!

Book Info and Rating

Paperback, 464 pages
Expected publication: September 3rd 2019 by Ace Books
ISBN 0451492781 (ISBN13: 9780451492784)
Free review copy provided by publisher, MacMillan Press, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genre: fantasy, historical fantasy, YA


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