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Merlin's Harp Paperback – March 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Merlin's Harp (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire; Reissue edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402237839
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402237836
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,386,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake, sister to the faerie knight who would come to be known as Lancelot, and student of Merlin, finds her destiny in the court of the legendary Arthur. The author of A Woman's Place (1980) undertakes a lyrical retelling of the Arthurian cycle from the point of view of the faerie folk. Crompton's flowing prose creates an atmosphere in which the familiar tale becomes fresh again. An excellent addition to most fantasy and general fiction collections.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Take heed: the feminist possibilities of the Arthurian legendary cycle were not exhausted by Marion Zimmer Bradley's best-selling Mists of Avalon. In that book's manner, Crompton retells the Matter of Britain from the point of view of the Lady of the Lake, here called Niviene. From her perspective, the well-known legends become a real fairy story, for the main characters are all fairies or, in the book's term, Fey (Niviene, her mother, Merlin, even Sir Mell), and human changelings raised in a fairy Avalon (Lancelot, the Lady of Shallot). Although the resulting novel satisfies all the primal needs for narrative intensity and firm characterization, its strengths really lie in its poetic language and its finely wrought spiritual sense. The Fey philosophy is offered as an antidote to human failings as Crompton's pagan rather than Christian, womanist rather than patriarchal fairies live in unsentimental harmony with nature and with the elemental forces. A riveting good read. Patricia Monaghan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I have to give this book a 3 simply since I didn't finish it and it was free on Kindle.
Christi S.
I think if that part of the story was more played up, not only would Nivenne have become a more well-rounded character, it would have made the story stronger.
Donna C
Not having read much in this genre or much in the way of Arthurian literature some of the intricacies were lost on me.
Galleysmith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 1996
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Merlin's Harp is an exquisite addition to Arthurian literature. Anne Crompton's writing is lyrical and beautiful. It
leads you into the story and keeps you there. Her very
original presentation of well known characters, well known
story lines, and even objects such as the Grail is so very
intriguing that you do not want to put the book down until
you have finished it. Her central character Niviene is
delightfully "odd" and fantastical. This is a Niviene no
one has seen before. I cannot recommend this book highly
enough. It is one of the few books that really does take
you into another world. When you put it down, when you have
read every page, you are left with a feeling of amazement
and sheer delight in the experience.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on June 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
Reading Merlin's Harp, I realized something about novels that portray the interaction between the human world and Faerie. They usually don't tell the stories of fae folk in their own homeland. There are exceptions, of course, but authors tend to focus on faeries stuck in the human world, or humans encountering Faerie. I think I may know why that is. When writing about faeries living in Faerie, it's all too easy to have nothing happen.

Anne Eliot Crompton uses beautiful, if occasionally stilted, language to draw us into her take on Arthurian legend:

"When I was yet a young woman I threw my heart away.

I fashioned a wee coracle of leaf and willow twig and reed, a coracle that sat in the hollow of my two palms. In this I placed my wounded, wretched heart, and I set it adrift on the rain-misted wavelets of the Fey river, and I watched it bob and whirl, sail and sink. Ever since I have lived heartless, or almost heartless, cold as spring rain, the way Humans think all Fey live. Humans I have known would be astounded to learn that I ever had a heart that leapt, brightened, fainted, quickened, warmed, embraced, froze or rejected, like their own."

The narrator is Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake. In the ensuing chapters, Niviene endeavors to tell us how she came to the point of throwing her heart away. This ornate, image-rich prose continues, and Niviene meanders and digresses in her tale. She'll mention an old family friend, then backtrack and tell us all about how she came to meet him before going back to the main thread of her narrative.

By combining the flowery style with a narrative that is ever looping back on itself, Crompton conveys a sense of what Faerie is said to be like.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Koppel on April 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a rather unique look at the legend of King Arthur. This is the tale of Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake.
We see Niviene grow up from a young Fey still learning about her surroundings and follow her through becoming a mother and a companion to Merlin at the Court of King Arthur. Arthur starts as just a tale Niviene hears from Merlin during his visits to Avalon. Then there is their chance encounter and finally Niviene encounters him at Camelot.
But While this is an Arthurian tale there is very little about Arthur actually in it. Instead we learn about the Fey, how they feel about this human king and the plots and reasons of Merlin. We find out the truth behind Sir Lancelot and where he came from. We learn about Mordred's shadowed history. We even learn the truth behind the Holy Grail and why someone as wise as Merlin sent the knights of the Round Table looking for it.
All in all a very entertaining book that is both well-written and freshly plotted. I recommend this one to anyone interested in Arthurian legend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Karris on April 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think one of the problems some have with Crompton's novels is that they are more literature than popular in style, and many modern readers, unfortunately, have lost almost all sense of even minor abstraction, instead needing things to be told simply. This is one of the problems with much of contemporary fantasy being written by and for a more game/SyFy Channel crowd than a literary one. That aside, Crompton has really done her homework on the Fey and their point of view. Also some nice twists and turns on the Arthur myth. One of the problems some readers seem to have is following the story chronologically, but considering the narrator isn't human and lives in a world of immortality and non-human motivations, I find this an interesting device. I wish the author had written more than just the three books in this universe. She seems to share with Joy Chant the same burst of three good novels and then silence, although I see she has written several children's books as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 28, 1996
Format: Hardcover
Merlin's Harp is a great short read (one day ), that will transport the reader back to Arthurian times through the eyes of an important, but not much talked about player. The book reminds me of 'Forest House' by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It is light reading, yet keeps your interest. Merlin's Harp will give the reader new insight on Lancelot and Melwas, with a new revelation on Merlin and the Holy Grail
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. E. Kennedy on August 1, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you liked Mists of Avalon, here is another book you will enjoy. The book is based on the perspective of a Fey woman. The first few chapters focus entirely on the life of the Fey and I found it a very interesting perspective. Merlin is introduced as is Guenevere and Arthur and Lancelot - though you don't know this at first. The introduction of characters is subtle and almost elusive. Not until later in the book does the plot twist and turn and bring you to the familiar aspects of the Arthurian legend we all recognize. It is a fast and intriguing read. I also liked her inclusion of Merlin's songs throughout the novel. They brought the poetic oral tradition of the legend into the book to show how the story evolved over time to the tale we know today. I highly recommend this book!
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