Jan 19, 2016

The power of words || Sword and Verse by Kathy Macmillan

Title: Sword and Verse
Author: Kathy Macmillan
Release Date: January 19th 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

An ARC was provided by Harper Teen in exchange for a honest review

What would it feel like to live in a world where the opportunity to learn how to write and read is restricted? A place where knowledge is a luxury - permitted to those only of noble birth? Where words are power and knowledge mighty? That's exactly what the world of Sword and Verse is like.

Raisa is a slave in a world where writing, learning and knowledge is limited to the nobles. In addition, the high order language - the language of the Gods - is only known to the king, the prince, and two tutors. Raisa's life changes when she is chosen as the next tutor, the person who's supposed to pass on the sacred language to the prince's future child. But when she falls in love with the prince and gets herself involved with a rebellion of the slaves, she finds herself swept into a journey of betrayals, revelations, secrets, battles, destruction, romance and the beauty and power of the written word.

"I never knew Tyasha ke Demit, but her execution started everything...."

My feelings are all over the place with regards to Sword and Verse. The book had a really original concept, great writing, full of myths and was all about languages and the power of knowledge. Certainly, the book started out with a lot of potential. In fact, I even finished the book in a record time of three and a half hours - uninterrupted, in one sitting - as I was eager to know how things rolled out. But overall, the book just wasn't remarkable. It had too many holes and problems for me to ignore, despite being fascinated by the world building and the back stories.

Let's talk about the best part first. Sword and Verse had a beautiful and stable world building. The concept of writing being limited emphasized the influence knowledge and languages can have in a society, and I thought it was beautiful! Plus, the story incorporated mythology, and I loved it! The snippets of the myths were all absolutely fantastic, and I almost wished that they were real world myths, so I can research on them more!

The writing. Kathy Macmillan has a way of pulling off a story. Like I told before, I was able to finish the book so soon, as the words just flowed through me. She also managed to keep me engrossed in the story and the pacing was stable despite the frequent lapses in time.

"When light and hand and heart be one, then may wisdom's work be done."

The development of characters - or rather the lack of it - was my biggest problem of the book. It was an immediate let down for a character snob like me. None of the characters in the book actually stuck with me. Raisa was not a memorable character, and she frustrated me to no end at certain points. Mati was your stereotypical prince whose potential and talents are over looked by his charm and is misunderstood by his dad. The minor characters were all too bland, and at the few instances where they did have intense scenes just faded out as they rather felt forced than impacting.

Then of course, the cookie cutter. The romance. Normally, fantasy romances never fail to impress me. Especially when they're royal romances. And forbidden ones. When I took up Sword and Verse, I was expecting to ship Mati and Raisa so hard, but they disappointed me heavily. First of all, there wasn't any development in their romance. No building ups, no tension and no anticipation. One would even call their romance an insta love.

He looked right into my eyes. I very nearly melted away into nothing. 
"It means you're mine, and I'm yours, Raisa. It means I love you."

Then there was the fact that the whole plot actually relied on their romance! This part was what annoyed me the most about the book. Raisa had no real motive or determination to do anything. Every single thing she does, is a result of the romance. It was as if the whole point of the story, and Raisa's journey revolved around the axis that is the affair between Mati and Raisa. If you ask me, this is the major drawback the book possessed, which kept me from loving this otherwise enthralling tale.

Would I recommend Sword and Verse? Yes. In the end, it IS a great fantasy novel, possessing an original concept, and might appeal to romantics. If you are a character snob, or a person who prefers their ships subtle, understated yet powerful, you might find trouble with the book. But Sword and Verse will definitely be an entertaining read, with fascinating details and breezy writing.

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