The Harp of Kings Review: Pros and Cons of Undercover Bards

September 14, 2020 by Bec | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

The Harp of Kings Review: Pros and Cons of Undercover BardsThe Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier
Series: Warrior Bards #1
on August 27th, 2019
Source: Purchased
Genres: Historical, Fantasy, Fairy Tales & Folklore, New Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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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. . .

The Good Things

  • A NEW JULIET MARILLIER SERIES! She’s one of my all-time favourite authors. Her books are amazing historical fantasy novels, all with a healthy dose of meddling fey and folklore.
  • There’s a really strong connection to the Blackthron & Grim trilogy, one I didn’t realise existed until after I started reading!
  • Three alternating and very distinct POVs. All the main characters are different in personality, voice, and experience, and all of them very well developed. I’m looking forward to following their growth (and budding slow burn romances) further in the sequels.
  • It left me with that glorious book hangover feeling.

The Not-So-Good Things

  • The plot is very slow building, which is not unusual for Marillier novels. I personally don’t have an issue with it, but I know some people struggle with slower, more character driven plots.
  • I would have liked a bit more time to be spent on Brocc’s story in the Otherworld (though I have a feeling this might be explored much more in the sequel).
  • I’m sad the next book isn’t out yet because I want more. (Though by the time I post this maybe it will be…)


Like all Juliet Marillier novels, I enjoyed this a lot. She writes some really interesting, more traditional fey stories with character driven plots. I really liked all the characters in Harp of Kings a lot and can’t wait to see how the story develops in the sequels.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Bec is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves all types of novels. Fantasy, sci fi, and historical are my usual go-to genres. If I’m not binge reading, I’m usually gaming, trying to take decent photos for bookstagram, or freaking out about silly things.

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