Sword and Verse by Kathy MacmillanSword and Verse by Kathy Macmillan

Sword and Verse

byKathy Macmillan

Hardcover | January 19, 2016

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In a sweeping fantasy that award-winning author Franny Billingsley called "fascinating and unique," debut author Kathy MacMillan weaves palace intrigue and epic world building to craft a tale for fans of Rae Carson and Megan Whalen Turner.

Raisa was just a child when she was sold into slavery in the kingdom of Qilara. Before she was taken away, her father had been adamant that she learn to read and write. But where she now lives, literacy is a capital offense for all but the nobility. The written language is closely protected, and only the King, Prince, Tutor, and Tutor-in-training are allowed to learn its very highest form. So when she is plucked from her menial labor and selected to replace the last Tutor-in-training, who was executed, Raisa knows that betraying any hint of her past could mean death.

Keeping her secret guarded is hard enough, but the romance that's been blossoming between her and Prince Mati isn't helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground rebel army—to help liberate the city's 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.

Title:Sword and VerseFormat:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:January 19, 2016Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062324616

ISBN - 13:9780062324610

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Some Awesome Parts, Some Meh Parts There were parts of this one I really enjoyed and other parts that I was skimming over, but overall I think this was a pretty good YA fantasy novel and I am looking forward to the sequel. I was iffy about some of the pacing at some points, since it seemed to drag on, and I was a little on the fence about the romance, but I’ll get more into it below. However, I loved the language system and the way that words were seen as magic. Plus I loved the mythology and the inclusion of the story of the gods at the beginning of each chapter. #mythologynerd I really liked Raisa and her character. I think she has really good growth throughout the novel which seems like it should be difficult since she spent half the book being a tad bit annoying to me. I liked that she did what she felt she needed to to keep herself alive because I feel like a lot of the other slaves were rude to her because she was like a “higher order” slave and got to live in the palace. There were some interactions between the Resistance and Raisa that I thought were illogical because of how they were speaking to her. I did like her as a character and liked that even though she had issues with other girls in the book, she was still genuinely trying to be nice to them. I liked that there is the hinting of potential awesome female friendship in the next one because Raisa didn’t really interact with any female her age in this one that wasn’t a romantic problem. However, I felt like Raisa lost her way any time Mati was around and while I understood it at the beginning because Young Love and all that jazz, when they View Spoiler » and that kind of irked me because I felt like we were FINALLY getting somewhere plot wise and that it was derailed for romance, which meh. Speaking of the romance. I did like them together but I am always so cautious of slave-master relationships because they aren’t on equal footing and don’t have the same agency to enter into a relationship. So while Raisa might have thought she was at the same level as Mati or vice versa, they still weren’t? She was still his property so denying him sexual advances could have been problematic (if he had been anyone but Mati). But I don’t know. I feel like it didn’t really come up until their “break up” and that was an issue for me. I would have liked that to have been explored and unpacked a bit more. I don’t think that there was enough exploration of Raisa as a slave in general because she wasn’t the Typical Slave as I mentioned above, but rather she was Respected. It was a weird balance and I don’t think it quite worked for me. However, I liked all the characters. All the secondary characters were really well written and explored. I thought that they all had their own motivations, personalities, etc. and I enjoyed every moment we got to spend with someone other than Raisa because they added such complexities to the plot, the world, and the narrative in general. I think it is definitely one of the better casts of characters I have read in a YA Fantasy novel in terms of secondary characters that don’t get their own POVs because I could easily identify who was to be trusted or not, etc. without over thinking things. I thought the worldbuilding was pretty decent as well. This one pulled from Ancient civilizations like Greece and Rome and interwoved their stories, especially mythological ones, with something a little different. I thought that there could have been a bit more worldbuilding in terms of the mythos of the lands and the differences between the islands that Raisa was taken from and the land she was living in now. I thought the idea of different language was really cool, but that would have also meant different culture and myths and that aspect wasn’t really explored. I would have just liked a bit more diverse understanding of the world itself. But that can definitely come in the sequel. I thought the pacing was a tad off at some points. We time skipped a lot since this book covered almost three years, if I understood correctly. It took away a bit of the plot and romance for me because we didn’t get to see some of the little nuances between them. I also thought that it made it a bit confusing for what was happening and when. Because the calendar dates weren’t the same as ours, it made it difficult for me to understand how much time had actually passed between some action sequences. However, I actually do recommend this one. I did enjoy reading it and without the aforementioned problems, it would have been a five star read from me. I think that the next book should be pretty decent and I’m glad it is switching up POVs! I think if you are a fan of High Fantasy and interesting worlds, this is the book for you.
Date published: 2017-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intertesting world When Raisa was a child, her village was raided and she was kidnapped and enslaved. Forced to work in the palace as a cleaner, a job she’s becoming too old for, she finds herself with the chance to become the new Tutor-in-training when the previous one is to be executed for treason. No one knows that Raisa is a Learned One, someone who already knows some of the higher order symbols that are only supposed to be known by the King, the Prince, and the Tutor. It’s a dangerous position, as any hint that she’s a Learned One could mean her death, but Raisa finds she enjoys her lessons with Prince Mati and the romance that’s brewing between them. When the resistance approaches her for her help, the same resistance that the previous tutor-in-training was helping that got her executed, Raisa knows helping them could mean freeing her people, but it also means betraying Mati. This book had a two stories in one feeling as there was the main story of Raisa and her journey but also each chapters had a little bit of the mythology of the Gods from this world and each section created a story. Both were interesting and the Gods’ story added to Raisa’s and the more they both went on, they more intertwined they appeared to be. I enjoyed Raisa as the main character for the most part. There were times I thought she was pretty naive and passive but she truly wanted to help people and to feel that connection with her father through the symbols. So much had been taken from her but she refused to just give up. There were times when she made such bad decisions and it was incredibly frustrating because she definitely knew it was a bad decision but did it anyway. Then she would turn around and be extremely logical and make a great decision. It was frustrating but also enjoyable because her bad decisions usually came as a reaction to something and they were realistic reactions, even if they weren’t smart reactions. I would have liked to have seen more depth in the romance before things started to get serious. The crush was already happening when the book started and developed into romance pretty fast. They were cute together and I liked their flirty banter but I was lacking a lot of the depth in the relationship. Did they fall for each other because they spent so much time together and not a lot of time with other people their age? What made each of them so special in each other’s eyes? Their love was obvious in the way they treated each other but there wasn’t a whole lot behind it. The plot started off slowly. There was a lot of build-up with the symbols and Raisa learning the lower order, then the higher order, and writing and writing and writing the symbols over and over again. There were a few times when it seemed like the action would start to pick up only to stall out. Once the action did finally start, it didn’t stop. There was almost too much happening at the end of the book to keep track of everything. The slower pace left a lot of room for world-building, and I definitely appreciated all the details of this world and the descriptions of the places they visited. The library that was described sounded absolutely amazing. Even with the uneven pacing, the plot was easy to follow and it was one I enjoyed. The poor girl helping the rebellion against the world leaders trope has been done again and again but I liked the elements that were added in this book, with so much emphasis being placed on the ability to read the symbols and who should have the right to be able to read. Overall, it was slower than I would have liked and the romance lacked a little depth but it was still enjoyable once the action really got under way. *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Date published: 2016-02-13

Editorial Reviews

“This is a highly satisfying novel with an exciting conclusion. Filled with romance, political intrigue, and rebellion, this page-turner will be in high demand by fantasy lovers.”