Friday, April 6, 2012

REVIEW: The Dragon's Harp by Rachael Pruitt

Synopsis:  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. 

My thoughts: I have always been a huge fan of Arthurian Legend and although I have run across some really wonderful tellings of the story as a whole (Bernard Cornwell's Arthurian Trilogy, The Once and Future King by T.H. White) I have often wished for a book or series that would give Gwenhwyfar her due.  I believe The Dragon's Harp (first in a planned five book series) is a promising start to the story of Gwenhwyfar that I have been looking for.  Starting with Gwen as an old woman now well past all the important events that have shaped her life, she begins to recall her childhood as a girl growing up in the fortress of Dinas Emrys and her first introduction to the powerful Mage Merlin and the world of old magic.

As Gwenhwyfar comes of age, her father's Welsh kingdom faces threats from the Scotti (Irish), the Vortigern from the south, as well as the threats of an evil intentioned family member and a darker magic that has plagued the family for generations.  It is the magic enveloping this imaginative picture of 5th century Wales that really makes the book special.  The fantastical elements detailing the spirit world and the old ways of the Druids were really my favorite parts.  I also had a strong liking for Gwen-who is young and stubborn but slowly coming into her own, her brother and playmate Cynan, slave and friend Tali, and the sharing of her experiences with first love.  Because there is so much going on in this novel, I felt it moved a bit slow for me at the beginning but soon I was lost in Gwen's world and it seemed the book moved much faster for me as the story got more involved.  Throughout the book there is a bit of an ominous tone and you feel as if the characters are building up to a great trial at some point in the future.

As always, I am appreciative of the detailed preface at the beginning and author's note at the end that gave us a glimpse into Pruitt's thought processes while writing the novel.  We leave Gwenhwyfar as as young lady at the end of Dragon's Harp and I am eager to continue on the journey of her life.  This is a truly unique take on the Arthurian story and I can't wait to read more.

 I received this book from the author to read for her tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  These are my honest thoughts on the book.

For more guest posts and interviews with author Rachael Pruitt, giveaways and more reviews you can view the schedule for the rest of the tour here.

Learn more about Rachael Pruitt by visiting her website:

Follow her on Facebook:

Twitter: and follow the tour on Twitter as well: #DragonsHarpVirtualBookTour


  1. Thank you so much, Holly for your lovely review of my novel, Dragon's Harp! I was just about to turn off my computer and go out into the spring sunshine when I caught your review--You just made my day :) I'm so glad "Harp" worked for you, especially since, I, too, have yearned for a Gwenhwyfar who goes beyond the traditional portrayal of most Arthurians. I assure you, I am hard at work on a sequel & I look forward to staying in touch. Thanks again--and I wish you a wonderful spring!

  2. I really liked this book too and I am looking forward to the next one in the series. Great review!

  3. I'm currently reading this one and I'm loving it. Rachael is such an awesome writer her book seems to come alive :)
    -Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

  4. Can't wait for that sequel, Rachael!

    Thanks for sharing your review, Holly.

  5. She hooks up with the nanites in the sequel, right, Rach? ;)

    A magical book that will stand the test of time.

  6. Love this book!! This is beautifully written, I can't wait for the sequel.

  7. Thanks for this review. I have enjoyed reading Arthurian legends. I have read books 1 and 2 of the Persia Wooley series about Guinevere and enjoyed those too. Have you read any of her books?

  8. I haven't read the Persia Woolley books although they have been on my WL for awhile. :)

  9. Thank you all very much for your wonderful comments Anne, Kimberley, Heidi, Karen & Elena--I'm so glad Dragon's Harp is a hit with you all! Heather, as an Arthurian fan, I look forward to hearing your opinion of "Harp" after you finish it!

    And, Holly, thanks again for your gracious review. Holly & Heather, I too am a fan of Persia Woolley--as a matter of fact, she has become a dear friend and mentor to me! Persia will also be my first scheduled guest (mid April) on my new "AUTHOR CAFE" on my website. We'll be enjoying a discussion about Arthurian novels & how historical & historical fantasy can each be valid choices for authors and readers..See you there! Thank you all again for your gracious comments. Have a fantastic spring :)