I was drawn to this book from the very first lines:
When I was yet a very 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 set it adrift on the rain-misted wavelets of the Fey river, and I watched it bob and whirl, sail and sink.
What vocabulary…what imagery…what a marvelous way to re-imagine Arthurian legend. For within the pages of Merlin’s Harp we find all the well-known characters: Arthur, Merlin, Morgan Le Fay, Mordred, Gwen, and Lancelot. But, they are interspersed with the fey, fairy creatures with even-fingered hands and magical gifts.
The story is told through the eyes of Niviene, a winsome lass who meets Arthur while he is hunting the white deer. Their union produces Bran, who could have been raised by Merlin and brought up in royal surroundings. But, when Bran leaves his mother as a young child, she throws her heart away.
The rest of the book tells us of Niviene’s call by Merlin to save Arthur’s kingdom from the Saxons, and we are pulled into the story by Anne Eliot Compton’s magical writing, her magical rendering of this beloved tale.
Read Chapter 1 of Merlin’s Harp here.