Sunday, March 25, 2012

Merlin's Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton

When I was yet a very young woman I threw my heart away. Ever since then I have lived heartless, or almost heartless, the way Humans think all Fey live.

Among the towering trees of magical Avalon, where humans dare not tread, lives Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake. Her people, the Fey, are folk of the wood and avoid the violence and greed of man. But the strife of King Arthur's realm threatens even the peace of Avalon. And while Merlin the mage has been training Niviene as his apprentice, he now needs her help to thwart the chaos devouring Camelot. Niviene's special talents must help save a kingdom and discover the treachery of men and the beauty of love...

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A different take on the Arthurian legend, this book tells the story from the viewpoint of Niviene, a fey mage whose mother is a friend to Merlin. Through Merlin, Niviene eventually becomes caught up in human affairs, particularly those of King Arthur. Familiar events play out through the course of the story, but with a different twist to them, the true identities of some of the players, or the relationships between them, having been changed. Through it all, the writing manages to conjure up the mystical feel of the land that is part fantasy and part legend.

The book started off rather slow, in my opinion, and though the beauty of the writing is intriguing enough to pull you in, still, the story simply rambles along for a long while, with no clear indication of where it's heading. Slowly, the direction begins to take shape, and becomes more interesting, but I found myself rather bored with a lot of the first half of the book, hence why I'm only giving it three stars. The latter part of the story does become much more interesting, and the ending is rather heartbreaking, and that combined with the beauty of the writing pulls it up to nearly a 4, but not quite. Those who enjoy re-tellings of the stories of Arthur and Camelot will probably want to check this one out, as will those who enjoy fantasy fiction with a highly mystical feel to it.

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