Sword and Verse
By: Kathy MacMillan
Expected Publication: January 19th 2016 by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--Raisa was only a child when she was kidnapped and enslaved in Qilara. Forced to serve in the palace of the king, she’s endured hunger, abuse, and the harrowing fear of discovery: everyone knows she is Arnath, but not that Raisa is a Learned One, a part of an Arnath group educated in higher order symbols. In Qilara, this language is so fiercely protected that only the King, the Prince, and Tutors are allowed to know it. So when the current Tutor-in-training is executed for sharing the guarded language with slaves, and Raisa is chosen to replace her, Raisa knows that—although she may have a privileged position among slaves—any slip-up could mean death.
That would be challenging enough, but training alongside Prince Mati could be her real undoing. And when a romance blossoms between them, she’s suddenly filled with a dangerous hope for something she never before thought possible: more. Then she’s propositioned by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the rebellion could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved—an honorable man that she knows wants to help the slaves.
Working against the one she loves—and a palace full of deadly political renegades—has some heady consequences. As Raisa struggles with what’s right, she unwittingly uncovers a secret that the Qilarites have long since buried…one that, unlocked, could bring the current world order to its knees.
And Raisa is the one holding the key.
Despite a really intriguing opening line ("I never knew Tyasha ke Demit, but her execution started everything."), Sword and Verse was initially difficult for me to get into. It had a slow start for me. Coupled with Kathy MacMillan doing a little too much telling and not enough showing had me struggling to connect to the characters. Since there's supposed to be a building romance between Rasia and Prince Mati this meant I didn't fully connect to their relationship either. Kathy MacMillan chose to "tell" the reader that Rasia and Mati had many conversations and spent much time together, but little of those moments were actually described or "shown" to the reader. That left me feeling a bit disconnected from the characters and their romance. I suspect that this was done to save time since the book is already right at 400 pages.
Kathy MacMillan not only created an entirely new world but she also created gods and goddesses to go with it, and an entire backstory for them as well. This added to the authenticity of the story, but I found myself with too many words that I didn't quite know how to pronounce all at one time. And I always find that this causes me to skim those words and thus not fully absorb what I'm reading. Does anyone else have this problem? I was initially annoyed with the added bits of story about the gods until I realized how closely it would be involved in the actual story.
Eventually, I did get involved in the story and even fairly invested in the romance. I don't always love my books to have some sort of motive--the motive here being about the importance of everyone having access to literacy--as sometimes these can come off as "preachy". But I didn't feel that way about Sword and Verse. If I had to read a book about this topic, Sword and Verse would be the one I think.
Ultimately, I did enjoy Sword and Verse, but I had a few issues with it as well. It took at least 40% or more before I started to feel invested. The world created was interesting and well thought out but also a bit complicated. Sword and Verse gets 3.5 Stars from me. Have you read Sword and Verse? What did you think? Let me know!