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Merlin's Harp

by Anne Eliot Crompton

Series: Arthurian legends (1)

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260977,179 (3.11)None
Niviene, the daughter of the Lady of the Lake, recounts her life as a member of the Fey, sister of the knight who would be known as Lancelot, and student of Merlin as she discovers her destiny at the court of King Arthur.

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Wow. I can't believe all the haters in the review section here.
After some contemplation, I'm guessing that it's because the book was repackaged for the newer edition with a wholly inappropriate cover. The original ROC edition has a pretty lovely, Pre-Raphaelite-inspired cover by Don Maitz. The new edition has this cheesy, pink-glittery cover that makes it look like a cheap romance for 13-year-old girls.

You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can surely make certain that the wrong people read a book by its cover.

This book is not aimed at young teens. It is also NOT: confusing, hard-to-follow, full of 'flowery' or 'verbose' language, OR for people who have no clue about the Arthurian mythos.

Yes, the book's author absolutely expects that the reader is familiar with Arthurian legends, and that you will be able to recognize the elements of classic characters and events in hers. I don't think that's too much of a demand, considering the scores and scores of novels that have been written in this genre, and how much the Arthurian legends are part of the very underpinnings of Western society.

The language of the story is very simple and straightforward. There are occasional poems, often presented as lyrics to the ballads that Merlin sings. But the bulk of the novel is basic, uncomplicated prose, with a nod to the styles of fairy tales and legends. At times, it reminded me of Patricia McKillip. I do like McKillip better - but she's one of my most favorite authors.

The real success here is how Crompton brilliantly portrays events from the point of view of the 'Fey.' She makes the Fey real - portrays them as a believable people, with a convincing, well-rounded, but very, very foreign culture. And she does this without sacrificing their magic. (Other books I've read in the genre have made them just another tribe, feared, hated, and misunderstood - but Crompton does all this, AND keeps them truly fey.) Writing from the perspective of someone from a culture with a very different moral standard to the one we're used to can be challenging - but I feel that this book did it wonderfully. I felt that I came to understand Niviene. Sometimes her attitude shocked me, sometimes I agreed with her. But more importantly, the portrayal of her character led me to think of things from a perspective not my own - which is one of the main raisons d'être of fiction in general.

I'd recommend this book highly to anyone interested in quality mythic fiction, Arthurian legend and faerie lore. It's not a perfect book, but it's a beautiful, worthwhile one. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I have had this book to read for some time. I bought it for the Kindle when I first got my Kindle (years ago) and just finally got around to reading it. Some of the concepts in this book are interesting but overall it is poorly written and hard to follow.

Niviene has grown up on the island of Avalon; the Lady is her mother and she doesn’t know her father. Her youth is highlighted by visits from Merlin, a half fey sorcerer. As Niviene herself grows in power she learns more and more about the mastery of her magic. Then one day Merlin requests her assistance in dealing with King Arthur; Merlin is desperate to save the peace that is slowly unraveling.

This is a retelling of the tale of King Arthur but from the fey perspective and featuring fey characters. Some of the writing in this book is beautiful but it's very hard to follow. The author jumps back and forth between Niviene's past and present kind of willy nilly. It’s very hard to figure out if you are reading about what is happening now, what happened when Niviene was little, and what had happened in the near past.

I like that Crompton did this King Author retelling with a heavy emphasis on the Fey. I also enjoyed how Merlin and Niviene are a bit high-handed and super powerful but also have weaknesses and admit that they have made mistakes in their lives.

Unfortunately the poor layout of the plot and the jumping around in time made this a struggle to get through and really take away from what could have been an amazing King Arthur retelling.

Overall I won't be reading anymore of this series and wouldn't really recommend it. The plot and way it is written is just too convoluted and confusing. I would recommend checking out Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeves for a better King Arthur tale retelling. ( )
  krau0098 | Nov 27, 2015 |
Very good alternative story of Merlin. Read it twice now.
  Steenf65 | Sep 6, 2013 |
UGH! Hated this book. That's it. No more arthurian legend stories. Ever. Again. ( )
  lesmel | May 19, 2013 |
Touted as a new and different interpretation of Arthurian legend I thought perhaps this book would be a good bridge into fantasy for a reader somewhat interested in exploring the genre. Unfortunately it fell short in that regard. It was such a tough read that it did more to turn me off the genre than on.

The flowery and excessive prose made it, at times, difficult to follow. I never really got a clear picture of what either land looked like. Apple Valley (ie: Avalon) was slightly more vivid than Arthur’s kingdom but all things considered the characters hopped so quickly between different settings it was tough to grasp on to any sense of place or time. Speaking of which, I had no idea if we were in the present or the past or seeing some sort of Fey vision of the future.

Not having read much in this genre or much in the way of Arthurian literature some of the intricacies were lost on me. However, I will say I found some of the characterizations and relationships developed to have quite a bit of potential. I would really have enjoyed seeing more of Lugh and the Fey girl he’d left behind. I actually found that element of the story (while extremely short lived) quite compelling. Heck I would have chucked the whole Arthurian aspect to just focus on that part of the story entirely.

In the end, what I take away from having read this book is that this type of fantasy isn’t for me. Perhaps lovers of the genre will read it and find it’s strengths, I would certainly enjoy hearing a different perspective. ( )
1 vote galleysmith | Jun 17, 2010 |
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A Counsel Oak Leaf Song

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Niviene, the daughter of the Lady of the Lake, recounts her life as a member of the Fey, sister of the knight who would be known as Lancelot, and student of Merlin as she discovers her destiny at the court of King Arthur.

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