Merlin’s Harp – Book Review

Merlin’s Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton

Nivienne is one of the fey of the land that humans call Avalon and daughter of the Lady of the Lake.  Although the fey tend to hold themselves separate from men, she deigns to join Merlin in the land of men in order to aid Arthur and his kingdom in their fight against the Saxons.  She helps not for the sake of Arthur and his people, but for the sake of the fey, whose peace Merlin believes will be disturbed if the Saxons overtake the land.

This was a very different take on Arthurian legend, and I appreciated that.  Nivienne is a strong female voice and, as one of the fey, has a very different perspective than is often found in stories of Arthur.  That being said, I did not end up loving this book.

It was not that the writing was bad, or the book itself was poorly done, it was more a stylistic choice (I think) that I understand but which hindered my enjoyment of the book.  Basically, character and world development was really not very fully fleshed out.  As one of the fey, Nivienne was very other worldly and set apart from the human world, she simply was not interested in helping to fill in the missing pieces of what was actually happening.  Don’t get me wrong, this lent a great sense of ambiance to the book, but it really didn’t work for me, I wanted the world and the actions to be more fully explored, without 5 or more years passing by with a couple of pages, just because the mind of a fey is so different than the mind of humans.

I really wasn’t crazy about “Merlin’s Harp,” but there’s lots of room for other opinions here, I know that some people will be drawn in by the unique perspective and how thoroughly Nivienne’s personality insinuates itself into every part of the story.  If you want to decide for yourself, you can read the first 47 pages of “Merlin’s Harp” on the book’s page.

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This review was done with a book received from Paul at Sourcebooks Fire.
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9 comments to Merlin’s Harp – Book Review

  • Amy

    Hmm, I usually love anything Arthurian but I don’t know about this one. In fantasy, world development is a big thing for me.

  • Totally agree with your review – I think the lack of world building was a stylistic choice as well, but it didn’t work for me.

  • Call me narrow minded, but this genre (is this a genre?) or topic or whatever holds no interest with me at all. I think I’d rather read a textbook about basket-weaving! The fact that you didn’t like it just reassures me that I’m not missing anything in this instance!

  • I haven’t read any “fey” books, but really do want to give one a try. I don’t think I’ll start with this one.

    • Lindsey

      If you want to read a good “fey” book, i recomend Lament and its sequel Ballad. Very good book, great development, and i find them hard to put down. They are by Maggie Stievater.

  • I have never heard of feys and I have read a few Arthurian novels, Maybe I just don’t remember them? I usually like to have the solid story. Big gaps like that would definitely bother me.

  • I’m looking forward to reading this one — I like Arthur stories. I’m hoping that it works for me.

    • Now I’ve come back and fully read your review. I totally agree with you. I was disappointed because I really do love Arthur books.

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about this book, but I think I’m going to avoid purchasing it and waiting for an ILL to come through. I’m a little wary after reading your review.