Perfectly pleasant early bit of fantasy by Patricia Wrede. I did not enjoy it as much as I did her other books, but it was quite fun.
I'm glad to have had the chance of reading it, but am unlikely to re-read it.
Emereck the minstrel finds the legendary harp of Imach Thyssel and must return it to its rightful owner before it comes into the hands of the evil Shadowborn. "Music to make the Shee weep and power to bring a dying man to life againthat's the magic of the harp." But the price of wielding such power may be more than a bard can pay...
I liked this book. Good read.
Emereck is a minstrel traveling with his friend Flindaran, the son of a nobleman. While riding through the forest on their way to visit Flindaran's home, they hear mysterious snatches of unearthly music; and on following it, they discover Castle Windsong and the legendary Harp of Imach Thyssel. Aganst his better judgement, Flindaran is drawn to the instrument, and takes it with him, intending to give it to the Minstrels' Guild for safekeeping.
But the roads are unsafe and the way is long; Flindaran's home is just around the corner compared to the Minstrels' Guild in Ciaron. So Emereck goes with Flindaran to Minathlan to resupply and rest for his journey -- but when they arrive, things have changed. Raiders, washed out roads, and minstrel-hating rulers conspire to make the way to Ciaron even more dangerous than Emereck had imagined ... and despite this, he would have pressed on to Ciaron -- but Flindaran's father the Duke refuses to allow it. Emereck is trapped as a "guest" in an unwelcoming castle with the increasing feeling that people are watching him ... and plotting to get the harp.
Flindaran uses the harp to heal his dying brother. When the Duke leaves the castle on an unnammed errand, and Flindaran is killed while trying to steal the harp, Emereck decides it's time to leave. He and Flindaran's half-sister Liana flee the castle ... with a horde of mysterious wizards and warriors on their trail, all seeking to have the Harp of Imach Thyssel for their own. And when everyone lands on Castle Windsong again, the battle for the Harp begins: a battle of wizardry more than weaponry, in which music can battle magic, and after which few remain alive, and none will escape unchanged.