Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Published by HarperTeen on January 19, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Format Read: ARC
Pages: 384 – hardcover & ebook
Source: HarperCollins International
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.
*Many thanks to HC International for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below.*
I was honestly so excited to jump into this book. I’ve heard every one of my blogging friends talk about Sword and Verse at least once, so when I got an uncorrected proof from HarperCollins, I was over the roof! The premise really excited me and the pretty eye-catching cover did help, too!
ALMOST everything about this book was exactly what I wanted to read about. I felt like the main character, Raisa, was really genuine and she really resonated with me in comparison to other fantasy heroines. I absolutely adored ALL the characters in this book – well – not all exactly… but… Jera! Kiti! Mati! Don’t even try to get me started on Mati. I loved him from the first page. He was so well-written and I found myself craving scenes that included him.
Speaking of Mati, this leads me to my next point – the romance. Frankly, it was probably the only part of the book that let me down. Yes, it was instalove. Deep sighs, people. I admit it was cute, but I didn’t really feel all that invested in the relationship, which sucks because half the book’s plot hinges on Mati and Raisa’s hidden romance or whatever. I also get pretty sick of the fantasy trope in which the main character is either the long-lost queen/princess of a mighty kingdom or in love with said mighty kingdom’s king. Thankfully, the former hasn’t come in to play yet, but the latter is definitely a repeated utterance in this book.
My absolute favorite thing about this book is the world building. The reason fantasy is one of my favorite genres is because it never ceases to amaze me how an author could create a world out of nothing then flesh it all out in the reader’s mind. Sword and Verse is the embodiment of an extremely fleshed out world. Everything was just so – I hate to say this – on point! The language, the descriptions, the names… I could almost believe they were real! I rarely ever actually get into fantasy books the way I did with Sword and Verse. Bravo!
One more thing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m also pretty sure this book had a hidden message. Only the middle and upper classes of society receive proper education. Poorer people aren’t provided with an education and thus aren’t able to read. It’s actually sad how the Qilarite and Arnathian social hierarchy is closer and more similar to real life than fantasy…
All this just makes me love the book even more! I can totally understand the hype about it! The romance is what made it lose points so the actual rating of this is 3.5 fish, but there’s no such thing as half a fish! (Hilarious, I know.)
Overall, the story’s mind blowing world-building, dimensional characters, and engaging plot make for a heck of a roller coaster with this book!
Rating: 4 fish