Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Publisher- Harper Teen
Released- Jan 19th 2016
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.
Sword and Verse, really surprised me in the best way possible. I loved Kathy MacMillan writing, it's sharp, intelligent and carefully calculated. The story is so evenly paced with suspense and intrigue and the concept is quite fascinating. This has a wonderful blend of fantasy, mythology and forbidden love. There is a lot going on here plot wise since this pans out three or four years throughout the book, but it never felt overwhelming or dull, it was always constantly moving and there were many points of the story that I would feel anxious for Raisa. For her safety. For her heart. Also, besides the ending, there isn't a lot of action or thrills, but it's not without it's share of drama, angst or political control. But I think my favorite part was learning about the symbols, scripts and system to the library of the Gods and it's importance to the story. I also enjoyed learning about the gods history at the beginning of the chapters and how it entwined with Raisa past and then we have the added mystery of Raisa heart-verse that kept me invested and curious throughout the novel. I also loved the Resistance and what they stood for. I've never been comfortable reading slavery in my escapes but I think MacMillan was tasteful and handled it well.
I've really grown to love, respect and admire these characters, they are all very well developed and capable and made it entirely to easy for me to lose myself in their story. Raisa was such a conflicted creature, but I liked how her strength and courage develops throughout the story. The struggles and confusion made her feel more realistic and relatable, I mean how do you choose between your people and your one true love, even if it is forbidden? Despite his title, Prince Mati is actually so very kind, considerate and compassionate. I kept forgetting he was the prince, he seemed so down to earth and not the overbearing controlling royal I see in other reads. As for the romance? I absolutely adore it! It's sweet, tender, warm and at times so unsure, but it was beautifully done and made the fight even more richer and worth it.
All in all, I really just loved this one, it has everything I want in an escape. Solid concept, engaging plot and remarkable characters. I'm surprised that this is a standalone, but only because it's rare to run into for this genre, but MacMillan wraps this up quite smoothly and there really is nothing like feeling content and satisfied after you finished a novel. Still, I'm looking forward to the companion, I'd love to know what happens to some of these other characters and see what's in store for Qilarite next. A fascinating read!
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