Recently, I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of The Harp Of Kings from Juliet, on her last visit to Melbourne. I wouldn’t dream of revealing any spoilers prior to the September release date, but Juliet has kindly given her approval for posting my thoughts.
Despite being forced to put the book down while I worked and slept - how inconvenient - I was enthralled the moment I began reading Harp.
The main character is 18-year-old Liobhan, a singer and musician, determined to be accepted into the Swan Island Warriors, alongside her beloved brother Brocc. Once feared outlaws, the Warriors are now a revered and sought-after fighting and investigative organisation.
The siblings, both talented musicians, are chosen for an undercover mission, their skills making them a perfect choice to visit the Kingdom of Breifne to attend the coronation of Prince Rodan – a spoiled, unpleasant bully. The goal of the mission is seemingly straightforward - recover the ancient Harp of Kings or else the upcoming ceremony, and the kingdom itself, will be in peril. The Harp is no ordinary instrument and without it the King cannot be crowned.
Brother and sister must play their roles convincingly, taking on entirely new personalities and enduring both physical and emotional challenges. And for Liobhan, torn between obeying the rules and following her instincts, she must make a decision, potentially jeopardizing the entire operation and her future.
In the Kingdom itself, Druids, courtiers, and stable hands, are not always who they appear to be. There are secrets in this Royal Court and uncanny forces in the forest, both good and evil, that could sabotage the mission and cause lives to be lost.
For readers who have followed the journey of healer Blackthorn and the gentle Grim in Dreamer’s Pool to Den of Wolves, you will recognise much of Blackthorn in her daughter Liobhan; the strength of will, the passion for justice and the compassion for those who need help. We catch a glimpse of the younger Blackthorn, before the tragic events which altered her path forever. In Brocc, we can see the gentleness of Grim in his raising. It is clear this is a close and loving family.
Juliet’s unique story-telling had me guessing about many things, right until the last few chapters. There were many ‘aha!’ moments causing my fellow commuters on the train to look at me questioningly, as I chuckled or exclaimed at key moments.
One of the strengths in Juliet’s writing is her ability to create characters with complex layers and offer crucial insights into a character’s past. This is just one of the reasons her stories continue to resonate with us long after we finish reading them. The Harp of Kings is no exception.
The subtle references throughout the book to Blackthorn and the gentle Grim, will delight all who are familiar with their adventures. However, this current novel stands alone, with strong new characters – such as the intriguing Mistress Juniper, the seemingly overconfident Dau and the ethereal Eirne.
If The Harp of Kings is your first foray in to Juliet’s magical worlds, you will be enthralled. For her current dedicated readers, this is another wonderful example of the depth of Juliet’s writing. An exciting journey of adventure, magic and mystery.
is available in Australia from September 3, 2019.
Pre-order your copy now via Amazon.