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The melody of destiny calls.

The melody of destiny calls.

Master of Music Banner art

Magical Realism | Historical Fantasy

Published by: Marla Himeda
Publication Date: April 2023
Paperback ISBN: 978-1959900009
Paperback Trim: 5.25" x 8" - 375 pages
Available: All major retailers; Wholesale via Ingram. Also available for Kindle, KU, and audiobook

Master of Music (The Bardic Isles, Book 1)

By Marla Himeda

Not long after the Druids came to Eire, the Bards mysteriously vanished from the annals of history, fleeing their native shores to begin life on a remote chain of islands … the Bardic Isles.


Over two hundred years later, a village boy is born with a gift of music that hasn't been seen since the exodus from Eire. Not understanding what he possesses, seven-year-old Kaelin is convinced his music is responsible for an unforgivable act. Suffused with guilt, he plays his homemade flute only in the privacy of the woods and buries it every night before returning home.


Four years later, a Master Bard visits the village and plays the music Kaelin played in the woods the night before. To the boy’s shock, no one is hurt by it. When the Master leaves, Kaelin faces a decision … can he bring himself to follow the only person who might be able to free the torturous music within him? And if his music is freed, can he live with the consequences?

Also available as an audiobook at your favorite retailer. The music of the Bardic Isles, composed by the author, creates a unique experience that transports the senses.

Master of Music Audiobook Cover






(for int'l listeners)

Awards for Master of Music

Book Readers Appreciation Group (B.R.A.G.) Medallion

Finalist in the 2023 Wishing Shelf Book Awards for Fiction

Reader Views - Five Star Review

Readers' Favorite - Five Stars

Finalist in the 2023 Wishing Shelf Book Awards for Audiobooks

BRAG medallion
Wishing Shelf Finalist gold
ReaderViews 5-star seal gold
Readers' Favorite 5-star Seal silver
Wishing Shelf Finalist silver

Editorial Reviews for Master of Music

“What an extraordinary tale. Even if you don’t know much about string and wind instruments, this fantasy narrative is so carefully crafted that it is captivating and takes you along, step by step, so that you almost wish you could play these instruments to gain the joy that is obviously experienced by the characters. The tale is so skillfully written that the reader laps up the account as the story’s hero learns more and more about his powerful musical talent. A truly evocative fantasy tale.”  B.R.A.G. Medallion Award


A magical, musical fantasy world that's both beautiful and unique. Himeda’s prose is like music itself—lyrical, sweeping, and, at times, building toward an unknown crescendo as the reader joins Kaelin on an adventure of a lifetime. (The author’s) love and knowledge of music shines through on every page, the writing's cadence making Master of Music a joy to read.  A musical journey that encompasses both larger fantasy and myth while closely following one boy's path of discovery, Master of Music owes much of its originality to not only the tale—but also the telling. Kaelin, while only a boy, has talent, courage, and ambition; however, it's clear that he has a long road ahead of him—a road that any reader will love to discover along with him.  BookLife Prize

“Master of Music is a masterfully-written, powerful, refreshing epic fantasy read that brings wholesome, heart-warming values together in a rich, exciting world of magic, lore, and the love of found family. This story was one that was nearly impossible to put down. Readers who love Celtic mythology, adventure fantasy, and music in their tales, will find a strong read in Master of Music.” —Katherine D. Graham for Reedsy Discovery


“Master of Music is filled with fantasy, music, wonderful characters, and deep emotions. I am a huge fan of fantasy books, and I must say that this is one of the best I have ever read. Himeda is a writer who seems to weave everything together in a completely effortless and perfect way to give us a story that is filled with stunning descriptions and wonderful details. In addition, the characters are so perfect, and they tug on your heart strings. It is a completely captivating story that you will not be able to put down until you finish that final page. The story is incredible, the characters simply remarkable. I assure all readers, those who are fans of fantasy and those who are just fans of a great book, you will not be disappointed.” —Kathy Stickles for Reader Views


“I very much enjoyed this superbly written novel. A captivating tale with a strong, memorable protagonist. if you enjoy strong characterization, a little cleverly interwoven mystery, and a richly described historical setting, you can’t go too far wrong with Master of Music. Perfect for music lovers!”  —The Wishing Shelf


“Music is magic in this charming, richly written apprenticeship fantasy. Himeda writes lush, engaging scenes of travel and music-making, in exacting and evocative prose. This is a humane fantasy blissout of training and deepening relationships, with musicology as magic.” —BookLife Reviews


“Himeda has certainly set up what is sure to be a wonderful series. I love that it is a classic, old-world-style fantasy tale that intertwines the realms of music and magic, providing a fresh and new reading experience. Himeda's storytelling is an excellent example of how to show a reader what is happening with visual descriptions and immerse us in a world that feels relatable and, therefore, authentic. Very highly recommended.”  Jamie Michelle for Readers’ Favorite

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