Book Review: A Song of Flight by Juliet Marillier

a song of light

Title: A Song of Flight (Warrior Bards #3)

Author: Juliet Marillier

Publisher: Ace

Publication date: September 21, 2021

Genre: Fantasy

One Sentence Summary: A prince has gone missing and Dau has been sent to help the effort to recover him while Brocc has been working on a dangerous mission to understand the feared Crow Folk.

May contain spoilers for the first two books.

Overall

A Song of Flight follows Liobhan, Dau, and Brocc as their lives change and merge while two work to find a missing prince and one works to figure out the Crow Folk. As usual, I really enjoyed the characters and loved how much music played into their lives. Each of them faced their own trials, and some of it broke my heart a little. It was wonderful to see how their decisions from the first two books impacted them in this third one. While the first half was slow and I felt the set up took a little too long to unfold, the second half was fast-paced and hardly seemed to stop. Overall, this is a solid third book and offers a great ending point for Liobhan, Dau, and Brocc.

Extended Thoughts

On Swan Island, Liobhan has been assigned to train a new warrior, but has difficulties getting to know her. Elka is from a very different part of the world and culture, but her knowledge may hold an important key to a mission Dau has been sent on. Closer to her parents’ home, the prince of Dalriada goes missing and his protector, Liobhan’s brother, severely injured. But Dau is sent to investigate and find the prince. There, he uncovers unsettling information that might involve the Crow Folk, and is sent to the widowed chieftain Lady Almha, whose advisor has a plot up her sleeve.

In the Otherworld, Brocc’s child has been born and is the light of his eyes, but his secret mission involving the Crow Folk endangers his place in his wife’s court. Warnings are sent to Liobhan as his mission and Dau’s seem to be on a collision course.

A Song of Flight appears to be the last in the series and offers a fitting conclusion for all of the major characters. It follows the same formula as the first two books with a slow first half that equally slowly unfolds the set up and rises to the climax and a faster, more thrilling ride during the second half when everything comes together. It’s easy to get mired in the first half as the Otherworld is simply dismissed, though, by this point, I suspect readers have already guessed it will play a huge role. But it is slow and almost cumbersome and I had a hard time not checking on my progress to see how close I was getting to the more exciting second half. Still, A Song of Flight delivers a solid story and wonderful conclusions to the stories of Liobhan, Dau, and Brocc.

I adore the characters in this series. Liobhan is so strong in mind and spirit. She’s always ready and willing to jump in, but her family has more of a hold on her heart than Swan Island does. Still, she’s a capable and dedicated Swan Island warrior. I found I had the most fun reading about her through Dau’s eyes, especially since, for the first time in the series, they’re separated during most of the book. Dau has come a long way from haughty nobleman and it was so nice to see just how human he was. I’ve loved how his character has deepened and changed over the past three books. While I was a little dismayed by how quickly their relationship progressed, it makes sense if this is a trilogy, and it’s been fun to watch them develop as individuals and a couple. As usual, Brocc kind of felt like a third wheel to me. I love his character and his huge heart and his story made my heart twinge for him, but Liobhan and Dau have the stronger story even if Brocc’s is centered around the ever-present Crow Folk. I do like him and his softer soul and the things he was put through was dreadful, but I found myself wanting to jump back to Liobhan and Dau more.

It was wonderful to get to know Liobhan and Brocc’s family and more Swan Island warriors. They all really helped fill in the story, giving it both personal and professional stakes. I thought Elka was a delightfully complex and fascinating woman even if Liobhan had a hard time getting to know her. I loved all the surprises that came from her and all of the new things she brought to Liobhan and her team. It was also fun to see Liobhan’s brother Galen involved in the story. He didn’t feel quite as fleshed out as I would have liked, but his relationship with the prince was absolutely lovely and heartwarming. I loved everything about it.

A Song of Flight, unlike the first two books, has the characters traveling further afield. There are more places to see in both realms, but Elka’s homeland was the most unique. While both share many ideas related to magic, they’re viewed differently and it was interesting to see the differences and similarities and how it impacted her and Liobhan’s relationship. But I really enjoyed getting to travel around more with the characters, especially as it’s Celtic-inspired and involves so much of the Otherworld. While I wanted more from the fae, I did enjoy how the Crow Folk, and their mythology and history played a huge role. While they’ve previously just been ferocious, murderous beings, they’re cast in a different light in this book. It all did seem to escalate and change rapidly, but it was also really nice to reflect on the progression across all three books.

As with the first two books, A Song of Flight offers a layered, albeit somewhat simple, story. It’s inevitable that the paths of Liobhan, Dau, and Brocc will cross, that their missions and lives will intertwine well before the end of the book. It’s fun to see their paths merge and to come to realizations throughout the story, and a lot of fun to see how they manage to get out. But there aren’t many complications and the character pool feels a bit limited, making it easy to predict what’s going to happen and who is going to be involved. I did like that there aren’t too many characters, but it also keeps the story simple.

A Song of Flight is a quick fantasy with a simple story and fun characters. I love everything about the Celtic-inspired setting and how strong of a role music has. Even though the first half was predictably slow and the second half predictably something of a never-ending roller coaster, it was an enjoyable installment in the series and I really liked how it left off the characters.

How many cups of tea will you need?

4 cups

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Thank you to NetGalley and Ace for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

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