Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Book Tour: The Dragon's Harp - Rachel Pruitt



Welcome to the Book tour stop for The Dragon's Harp by Rachel Pruitt. And today's reviewer is Anachronist. 

Review: The Dragon’s Harp by Rachel Pruitt (Era of Dragon’s: The Lost Tales of Gwenhwyfar series #01)

Synopsis:

The novel is set in northern Wales during the 5th century CE and its narration follows the coming of age of a young Ordovici princess of Dinas Emrys, Gwenhwyfar. It is the first person narration – elderly Gwen tells the story of her life to a serving girl. Yes, she is the future wife of Arthur and Merlin/Emrys is actually her uncle but she is also a small, unruly, stubborn girl, much loved and surrounded by her family. She grows up in very uncertain times so soon enough must face harsh reality of war, plunder, murders, rape and betrayal. Will she find her inner strength to fight for her integrity and for those she loves? Will she dare to develop her unusual gifts to oppose dark, greedy druids and witches? Will Merlin, forever busy abroad, allegedly tutoring an important young princeling in the South, finally find time to help her?

What I liked:

Firstly and foremostly I loved the fact that the author really, truly did her homework concerning the period she wrote about. Mind you she did it with passion and it was felt. The narration rang true, the life of little Gwenhwyfar seemed as historically correct as it was only possible - I couldn’t help smiling e.g. when I stumbled on the Chi Ro symbol early Christians used most likely instead of a crucifix or a cross. 5th century Wales is presented as a real place, without idealizing the living conditions or problems its inhabitants faced. I am a sucker for good historical fiction, firmly based on the remnants and relicts from the appropriate era and here it was clear Ms Pruitt is a real history junkie who digs deep and is creative with her findings! It was a pleasure!

I liked the red dragon, called Cymry (guess why such name was given to it ;p) which I suppose is a nice symbol of the magical aspect of the book. It wasn’t overdone but impressive enough, more like a natural magic than something flashy and loud. Bad druids and good druids seemed a very sensible idea –after all nobody said Julius Caesar, who gave them a very bad opinion in bulk writing his memoirs, was the most objective source of knowledge. They were his enemies and he was clearly afraid of them.

I liked how Celtic women were made almost as powerful as their husbands if not actually more dangerous than any warrior. Gwen, just a child and then a teen, is presented as a kick-ass princess, not some whimpering bimbo or a shallow twit whose flirtatious was led to the destruction of Camelot.; her Grandma, Rhiannon, is actually even better! Also Sari, a slave girl from an Arabic country turned a Celtic seer, and Hrwych, Gwen’s nurse and friend, were a very nice addition!

Now something about the baddies: they were really good as well, both men and women who, in the end, happened to be one big ‘loving’ family! The main villain, Maelgwyn, Gwen’s other uncle, is handsome and rotten to the core – what a bliss!! – but his daughter is actually even better (or rather worse) a piece of art, nothing less, and of course as cute as a button! I am looking forward to meeting them again! Mind you it is a novel written clearly with a more mature audience in mind – not a fairy tale for children. There is one especially disturbing scene of an attempted rape (the victim being a minor) and then the would-be rapist is punished in a really ugly, brutal way – consider yourself warned.

Finally the cover art is lovely! Those red curls and this dagger!

What I didn’t like:

At first I couldn’t relate to Gwen. Not really. Only later, when she stopped behaving like a spoiled brat I warmed to her a bit. I think Lleu, her father’s ward and her main squeeze in this part, was a far more interesting, although secondary character. Well, it might change. I started reading this novel not being aware that it is a beginning of a series – there will be four more books or so I found out! Now I want more! Is there any justice? None!

Final verdict:

A charming story, very unlike any novel based on Arthurian cycle I’ve read so far. I only hope it will be as original and entertaining till the very end. Writing all five parts on the same high level – that’s a real challenge! I recommend it to readers who like  Arthurian cycle stories but told in a more contemporary and historical way, without completely inadequate knights in shining armours and damsels in distress and a heavy dress (thus the distress I suppose).



Rachael Pruitt's Website: http://www.rachaelpruitt.com
Rachael Pruitt on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EraOfDragons
Twitter Event Hashtag: DragonsHarpVirtualBookTour



SYNOPSIS
ENTER THE WORLD OF THE DRAGON’S HARP ARTHURIAN HISTORICAL FANTASY FOR THE 21st CENTURY 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. ERA OF DRAGONS: THE LOST TALES OF GWENHWYFAR: BOOK ONE JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF THE DRAGON'S HARP YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN!


ABOUT RACHEL PRUITT
My name is Rachael Pruitt and I’m a writer, storyteller, and teacher with a lifelong fascination for Celtic mythology and the Arthurian legend.

My new novel, The Dragon’s Harp, tells the story of the coming of age of the famous Queen Gwenhwyfar (the Welsh spelling for Guinevere) in a dark and frightening time. Merlin is her Uncle and, although she is a tribal Celtic princess who possesses both power and magic, she is in great danger from both the human and supernatural realms.

Dragon’s Harp is just the beginning! I have plans for four more books about Gwenhwyfar and Merlin’s lives. The books are called Era of Dragons: The Lost Tales of Gwenhwyfar.

30 comments:

  1. I love Arthurian literature such as Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Tennyson's Idylls of the King and Barron's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but generally I am not such a big fan of Arthurian fiction. I'm not sure I would like this one...

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    1. It is different for sure. You will never know until you try it.

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    2. I like J.M.C. Blair and Jane Yolen's Arthurian fiction, but there's lots more that did not appeal to me. I'll keep it in mind.

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  2. What a fantastic and detailed review! This does sound like a good series. The author stopped by my blog recently as part of the tour and she was lovely as well.

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    1. She is incredibly nice, Ms Pruitt is, and she can write! Thanks for reading my review!

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  3. Welsh dragon perhaps? A fabulous review.

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    1. Yes, it is Welsh :D. You guessed right!

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  4. I really want to read this one and so glad you liked it so much Blodeudd. I know how discerning you are. Thanks for the excellent review and recommendation.

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    1. It was Ana who read and enjoyed it :)

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    2. Not a problem dear Jenny! Blodeuedd is pretty discerining as well!

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  5. This sounds like an amazing story.

    I am ok with not connecting to the character immediately as long as they grow over the story.

    Great review!

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    1. Thanks Felicia, my thoughts exactly!

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  6. Replies
    1. Always a pleasure to be a guest in your castle, my lady!

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  7. Thanks for sharing this! :) I love it when authors really do their homework before writing a novel. I feel your pain about not knowing a book is part of series until you're wanting more.

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    1. Great to know somebody understands my anguish, Carole...I was like 'it is ending too fast, no way it can end here!'.

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  8. I have to admit, I haven't read many stories based on the Arthurian legends, but it does fascinate me.

    Looks like reading this was a fun challenge for you! :)

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  9. hmm sounds intersting, i do love aurthurian legend.

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  10. Because I love anything Arthurian and Gwen related this really appeals to me. Also the fact that the author really did her homework makes it that more fascinating!

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  11. Excellent review and what a beautiful cover!

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  12. Thank you for your fantastic review, Anachronist (dang, that's tough to spell :)..so glad "Dragon's Harp" worked for you--and I do share your pain that it's spawned other books (I honestly didn't expect this when I began!). I do hope I came up with a satisfactory ending for "Harp"--and I promise I'm working to finish its sequel "asap"--without sacrificing quality. For those readers who would like to check out my writing before they commit to buying the book (I'm the same way :), please feel free to read the first 3 chapters on my website link. And thank you all--for this wonderful review & for your gracious comments!

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  13. I love the idea of Guenevere as heroine instead of just an adulteress who brought about the downfall of a kingdom & its ideals.

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  14. Oh sounds really interesting. I'd not heard of this book before. Thank you Anachronist!

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  15. It's been ages since I've read any good historical fiction and this sounds like my cup of tea.

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  16. Are you Anachronist? Or is someone else Anachronist? I am a little confused :-)

    I really love Arthurian fiction, but I really hate Gwenhwyfar. She is generally a pretty lame person, from what I can tell.

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    1. I am not Anachronist :) She is on my blog now and again reviewing books for me :)

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  17. Great review and blogpost Ana and Blodeuedd :) But somehow this really reminds me of the Crystal Cave series by Mary Stewart, which I devoured as a young girl.

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  18. I think I will nosey more about the rest of the books of this series before trying to borrow from the library...

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  19. I just finished this book! I found the writing excellent, she really did her research on the era. I loved the fact that it was being told by Gwen as an old woman, and I loved that it went back to Gwen as a child. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the King Arthur, Merlin era. Excellent read and I can't wait to see what she does in the next one!!

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Thank you for your lovely comment. I appreciate and love them all :D

I answer them all here.

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