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Gorgeous Celtic Imagery in a Haunting Fairy Tale: The Warrior Bards Novels by Juliet Marillier

Friday, August 21st, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The-Harp-of-Kings-small A Dance with Fate-small

The Harp of Kings and A Dance With Fate. Ace Books,
September 2019 and September 2020. Covers by Mélanie Delon and unknown.

I discovered Juliet Marillier’s Blackthorn & Grim Celtic fantasy trilogy last year. How I missed the whole series for years I dunno, but was very glad to find them when I did. So I was excited to see a sequel series featuring a new generation arrive in 2020, opening with The Harp of Kings, which Andrew Liptak at Polygon selected as one of the Best Fantasy Releases of September 2019, saying it was “Soaked in gorgeous Celtic imagery and mythology.” Carolyn Cushman reviewed it warmly at Locus Online, saying:

Sibling bards determined to become warriors end up on a special mission to recover a magic harp in this Celtic fantasy novel, the first in the War­rior Bards series, a next-generation sequel to the Blackthorn & Grim series. Liobhan sings and plays the whistle, while her brother Brocc is a harpist with the voice of an angel, skills that turn out to be useful when the warrior group they’re training with needs to infiltrate a court where the legendary harp used at coronations has gone missing. Dealing with princes turns out to be the least of their problems, though, when druids and otherworldly influences are revealed to be involved. The trainees – includ­ing Liobhan’s biggest rival – have a tricky time staying in their assigned roles, and staying out of problems at court, but ultimately it’s Liobhan and Brocc’s knowledge of old stories and their mother’s wisewoman skills that save the day in a tale that draws on some haunting fairy tale elements while telling an exciting adventure all its own.

The next book in the series arrives in two weeks. A Dance With Fate will be published by Ace Books on September 1, 2020. It is 512 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $11.99 in digital formats. I don’t know who did the cover. Read an excerpt from The Harp of Kings here, and see all our recent coverage of the best new fantasy series here.

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