Before Gwenhwyfar became Queen - before Arthur met Merlin - a tribal Welsh princess met a young Heatherlands Mage. Together, they will create a legend. Inside a mist of beauty and brutality waits the Arthurian legend as you’ve never heard it before. Enter the world of THE DRAGON'S HARP, a realm of blood lust and vengeance, of spellbinding magic from the beginning of time. The realm of Princess Gwenhwyfar: a young girl torn between magic and desire, born with magical powers she can either wield to save her people from destruction - or deny to save her soul.
IN AN ERA OF DRAGONS A YOUNG GIRL COMES OF AGE
First in a five book series of historical fantasy, Rachael Pruitt’s unique take on a beloved legend reintroduces the mythic characters of Gwenhwyfar, Merlin, and Vortigern against the gritty backdrop of sixth century Wales, where scenes of shape-shifting and heartbreaking romance vie with torture, murder, and battle in a dragon-haunted land.
Every once in a while we have a book that more than one reviewer wants to read, as is the case with the novel The Dragon’s Harp. So we have a treat for you! Two book reviewers on male and one female. Let’s see how The Dragon’s Harp measures up!
Reivew by Cardmon :
Apologies for not putting too much of the storyline in, but I feel that the reader should experience that for themselves, so I try to keep all of my reviews about the experience and the overall feel that it gives to me. I love and study this period of time & as there is already so much out there that is pretty poor I generally stay clear unless it is non-fiction, in fact the last fiction that I read on this subject was the Stephen Lawhead trilogy quite a few years ago, so I thought that it was about time that I took the plunge again.
I have to say that the Authors preface was a revelation, this was obviously somebody who loved and researched this period in history, and even though this is a work of Fiction you could sense that this hopefully should give the story a bit more meat on its bones, and in that I was definitely not disappointed.
The story mainly revolves about the young Gwenhwyfar & her early upbringing, her trials & tribulations during this period. The settings and characters are fantastically drawn, very complex and interwoven, very evocative, you feel you are there and because of that it draws you into the story and the people more, you find quite subtly that you care a great deal about the people and the outcome at every climatic scene.
I found that the younger characters seemed to react like any young person would, quite petulant at times with no thought for consequences, which is refreshing as I don’t normally see that portrayed. The magic in the story is not in your face which again is refreshing, but woven throughout the story in such a manner that it doesn’t feel unnatural, it belongs and that is a skill that the Author possesses and it is a great introduction to the Druidic elements. This introduces Merlin who isn’t the main focus as Gwenhwyfar is, and quite rightfully for this chapter in the proceedings, but he is by no means a bit player more a teacher and a teacher I wish I had in my younger days. His acts of Magic and pretty much all of the supernatural activities in the book are beautifully observed and told, great and glorious when required but also very sinister when appropriate.
Even though you know that more volumes are planned, future characters and storylines are sown throughout which just adds to the tantalization for the future.
Overall the Author is a great storyteller, her writing is quite sublime & her love of the period and endless research into all aspects of this really shine through and I for one like little Mica am impatient for the next story.
5 stars !
Review by Midnight Ruby :
This is a typical historical story woven from myths and legends and fleshed out from a great imagination to bring these people to life.
The first book in a series of five The Dragon’s Harp is set in northern Wales during the 5th century and follows the coming of age of the young Gwenhwyfar. Merlin who is her mothers' brother appears in the third chapter and will remain through the series. Its a treat to find a young Merlin in an Arthurian book and he comes across as a fantastic character, full of mystery and magic and yet very understanding and patient with Gwen and her young brother. He takes over their schooling and teaches the young Gwen the beginnings of her magical skills aided by her grandmother.
The book begins with Gwen as an old lady reminiscing over her childhood and then her voice as a child telling her story takes over. Merlin is still a young man and Arthur still a child, mentioned only in this book and we'll meet him in later ones. It's a realm of blood thirsty feuds and battles, lords and ladies, slaves and servants – the young Gwen sees life as it is, tough and bloody at times and is not hidden from the realities of life by her father, the kings son. She is born with magical powers, and its fascinating seeing how these develop and how she grows, sometimes struggling with her conscience and what she must do for her people. Merlin and her grandmother are steeped in Druid history and help her in her journey. There are magical dragons and snakes, all tied in with everyday minutiae of life that carries in in a castle containing so many people. I love the way Rachael brings Gwen to life, turning her from an historical person into a real one along with the rest of her family.
The book covers such a vast realm of experience from traditional bloody battles, torture, and murder to ones fought using magic, the power of the druids and nature and along this journey we see Gwen grow from a rebellious tomboy child to a brave young princess ready for love and romance. As the first in a series of five its a great start and I’d especially like to read how Racheal treats Gwen when she's a little older and ready for romance – we've already been introduced to Lleu – and I'm sure she has a great treatment in store for Arthur and look forward to those books as they are written.
In many ways this book reminded me of the writings of Sharon Penman in the way she takes a historical legend and turns it into a story to be read and enjoyed. I love Sharon’s books and it was interesting to read in the authors foreword (which I read after reading the book) that she was inspired by Sharon. I think her writing is comparable in quality and for a new author she has done exceptionally well. It's great to find a book of such good length too – 367 kindle pages – so many kindle books are terribly short and little more than extended short stories and I get disappointed when what I want is a book to get my teeth into. Its currently only available on kindle from Amazon.uk but on Rachaels blog there are links to buy in in print from US. It contains very few grammar or spelling errors – one of my real kindle gripes are books that are poorly edited.
I enjoyed this book and would like to read more in the series but my one negative comment is at times I found it hard to get really engrossed in the characters and what they are doing – possibly because there are so many and maybe because its some time since I’ve read a solid historical novel, being a fantasy fiction devotee for last few months and have got too used to different worlds. Its not a criticism of the book per se but of my enjoyment of it, and possibly reading further into the series when they appear the characters will feel more familiar – its often something I notice in the first book of a series – it must be difficult setting the scenes and introducing so many new people, in further books we are already familiar with them.
Its not often I notice artwork being a kindle reader but I did find that the cover for this book caught my attention and as an artist I have to say how much I love the cover. Nothing to do with the content of the book but for some people the cover is also important and I thought it worth saying how beautifully executed it is.
The dreaded stars – four stars. A well written, good length novel and if I could have engaged a little more I’d go for 4.5 – maybe the next book will fix this.
You can purchase The Dragon's Harp here : DarkissReads Bookstore
Rachel Pruitt on the web : http://www.rachaelpruitt.com/
Rachael Pruitt's Facebook page