Her Serene Highness, Rakaia, Princess of Fardohnya, is off to Hythria, where her eldest sister is now the High Princess, to find herself a husband, and escape the inevitable bloodbath in the harem when her brother takes the throne.
Rakaia is not interested in marrying anyone, least of all some brute of a Hythrun Warlord she's never met, but she has a plan to save herself from that, too. If she can just convince her baseborn sister, Charisee, to play along, she might actually get away with it.
But there is trouble brewing across the continent. High Prince of Hythria, Damin Wolfblade, must head north to save the peace negotiated a decade ago between the Harshini, Hythria, Fardohnya, Medalon and Karien. He must leave behind an even more dangerous conflict brewing between his wife and his powerful mother, Princess Marla.
...And in far off Medalon, someone has stolen the music.
Their quest for the tiny stolen lyre containing the essence of the God of Music will eventually touch all their lives, threaten everything they hold dear and prove to be far more personal than any of them can imagine.
I have always been a fan of Fallon's books, since I first read the Second Sons trilogy, and my enjoyment of her writing has not wavered with this new addition. If you are familiar with the Hythrun Chronicles, that's the Fallon series this book most reminded me of. Furthermore, while this first book in a new series provides a reasonable jumping-on point, I don't particularly recommend starting here. It's not completely necessary, but I do recommend reading the Demon Child series and the Hythrun Chronicles to understand more about the recurring characters' back stories. About half the main point of view characters are recurring and half are new (this is out of I think five point of view characters, one of whom I don't think was very prominent in the earlier books.
Having said all that, it's been rather a while since I read the earlier two series. I think I last reread the Hythrun chronicles six or seven years ago, so my memory of the minutiae was hazy at best. While I had no trouble following the story in The Lyre Thief, giving this, I would have enjoyed it even more, I think, if the memory of "wait, who's that again? The name seems familiar" had been fresher in my mind.
As I said, there were five point of view characters in this book. There's Rakaia and Charisee, royal and baseborn sisters, respectively, whose shenanigans after Rakaia is promised to an old Hythrun lord attract the attention of the God of Liars. There's High Princess Adrina, sister of the aforementioned two and wife of Damin Wolfblade. There's an assassin, the Demon Child (which, actually, wasn't capitalised in the book, which kind of bothered me), a Fardohnyan seneschel... All of whom get entangled in interweaving plots and schemes.
One of the things I love about Fallon's work is how she writes intrigue with several characters having independent goals and schemes which just happen to overlap in entertaining ways. Most of the time, characters are just doing their thing without particularly considering how it might be affecting other people (especially when it's other people they don't even know well).
This is a long book with many characters, but one that I found difficult to put down. Aside from forgetting details from the earlier books about recurring minor characters, I had absolutely no trouble filling the story in The Lyre Thief. Even though there were long gaps between scenes for some of the characters (one in particular, but I don't want to spoil things), Fallon made everything memorable enough that I had no trouble remembering what they were up to.
I enjoyed The Lyre Thief a lot and the only disappointing thing is that I now have to wait a while for the next book! It didn't end on a huge cliffhanger or anything (well, maybe a small one? It was more of a hook for the next book. What constitutes a cliffhanger these days?) but most of the plot lines are unresolved and I want to know what happens next to all the characters! Very much looking forward to book two (which I think is still a year away :-/ ).
I highly recommend The Lyre Thief, especially to fans of The Hythrun Chronicles and The Demon Child Trilogy. You don't have to have read those two earlier series before you read this one, but I think that it would help. For those unfamiliar with Fallon's work, she writes excellent action and political intrigue focussed fantasy. Mostly the intrigue with many intertwining threads.
4.5 / 5 stars
Series: The War of the Gods book 1 of 3
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased on iBooks
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge