20 Sept 2019

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: THE HARP OF KINGS by Juliet Marillier

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

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Author: Juliet Marillier
Series: Warrior Bards #1
Source: Finished Copy via Publisher
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: September 3, 2019

A young woman is both a bard--and a warrior--in this thrilling historical fantasy from the author of the Sevenwaters novels.

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. . 
Amazon | Chapters | TBD

Describe THE HARP OF KINGS in 10 words or less.

Juliet Marillier: Secret agents in medieval Ireland: adventure, intrigue, music and magic.

What is the best part of incorporating your Celtic-Gaelic roots into your writing?

Juliet Marillier: I was born and raised in a very Scottish part of New Zealand and both my parents were musicians, so it’s not surprising that I love the traditional stories and music of Celtic-Gaelic countries. It was an absolute joy to write a book with bards as the central characters. I’m hoping readers will enjoy the way I’ve woven the songs and dances that Brocc and Liobhan perform into the fabric of this book. Music also plays a key part in interactions with the Otherworld! More generally, I love the way everything in those cultures is touched by magic, whether it’s the landscape or the people or the stories. Delve deep enough and you find it everywhere. 

What was your soundtrack while writing THE HARP OF KINGS?

Juliet Marillier: Celtic folk/rock band Runrig. The Irish-American Celtic group Cherish the Ladies, featuring virtuoso whistle player Joanie Madden (I’d love to see Joanie and Liobhan playing together.) Also Solas, Capercaillie, Clannad. Sometimes classical music – my tastes there are fairly broad.

What is your favourite part of this world and how does it affect our main characters?

Juliet Marillier: This world is the same one I used in the Sevenwaters and Blackthorn & Grim series, and my favourite part is different for each. Swan Island features strongly in the Warrior Bards series. The island houses the headquarters of a secretive band of elite fighters/spies/mercenaries that can be hired to perform special missions. The Swan Island community is made up of very tough individuals who match the rugged landscape of the island, but they have good hearts and an honorable code for living, though they operate outside the law when required! When they’re off duty they enjoy music, storytelling, and a nice jug of ale. The Swan Island culture affects all three of our main characters, who are competing for a place in the permanent warrior band. Liobhan and Dau are fiercely competitive and determined to succeed. Liobhan’s brother Brocc has different motivation for being there. The training they receive shapes the way they perform and how they grow as they are thrown into the mission that takes them off the island.

What can we expect from you next?

Juliet Marillier: The second book in the Warrior Bards series, provisional title A DANCE WITH FATE, will be published in September 2020. It’s in the editorial stage at present. When the revisions are complete I will be starting on Book 3, and also working on a c0llection of fairy tale-based short stories for Serenity Press, to be illustrated by the wonderful Kathleen Jennings. The title is MOTHER THORN.

What are some of your favourite Adult SFF books?

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