The Harp of Kings checks many traditional Western European mythology boxes. The tale is of a reluctant male ruler who needs a specific and currently missing device to secure his crown. There are questing heroes who must complete time-bound tasks set by the Fae. The main characters — young adults — chafe at the restrictions and expectations of their elders.
Yet it also takes tentative steps toward breaking out of overdone motifs even if it doesn't quite make it far. While a strong female warrior is accepted and expected, it is a novel stance for this world. Characters experience difficulties including childhood abuse and healing that trauma. In addition, assault, and the challenge that "her word versus his" brings to judgment.
The rich character development and masterful worldbuilding combine to make The Harp of Kings a satisfying read despite its flaws. With that in mind, it is a slog until the last quarter of the book. While part of the ending is satisfying, the overall conclusion of this first book in the new series left this reader frustrated. The Harp of Kings is an enjoyable read, but it falls short of magical.
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