Thursday, January 21, 2016

*ARC* Sword and Verse - Review

Sword and Verse #1

By: Kathy MacMillan

Published: January 19, 2016 by HarperTeen

384 pages

Source: Edelweiss ARC from publisher

(Goodreads / Amazon)

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.
This was an enjoyable read for me. I very much tend to enjoy fantasy stories with castles and kings and forbidden love. In this world there are basically two classes of people: the upper class (Qilarites) and slaves (Arnathiams). They can easily be told apart by their looks: their hair color and skin color and the color the slaves are allowed to wear: green.

The story is told from the POV of Raisa, slave born from a family of Learned Ones, which means that from where she came from her family knew how to read and write the language of the gods. This language is something that is now forbidden knowledge among the slave people and even most of the upper class people. Only those who are royalty: the king, the prince, and the tutors are allowed the knowledge of the upper language of the gods. Others found writing the language are punished severely, some by death.

Raisa, having been a slave in the palace since being a young child, is chosen to be the next tutor who will eventually teach the son of the prince. She then spends much of her time with Prince Mati as they both are learning this language by the current tutor. Over time as they grow up their feelings for one another deepen. Mati is not like his father, the King. Mati is kind and gentle, he doesn't like violence or the way the slaves are treated. But he is a prince and as such certain duties are expected of him. Since their kingdom is out of money he is betrothed to marry a girl from a neighboring land who has much gold.

This story is about loyalty as much as it is about true love. Those who like stories that also tell about a past history of ancient gods will enjoy this aspect as well.

My only minor dislike was that sometimes all the talk about the lower and upper symbols of the gods language and how symbols were written or looked was sometimes a bit daunting to me. I found myself skimming over parts that went in too much detail (for me) about the language.

Other than that, I very much enjoyed the connection between Mati and Raisa. Without giving too much away about the ending, I look forward to seeing where exactly the series is going next.

Favorite Quotes:
"It means you're mine, and I'm yours, Raisa. It means I love you."

"Be perfectly clear: I wouldn't help you if you were on fire and I were the ocean."

Language Rating: 1 (light) 
Mature Content Rating: 1 (light)
Final Rating: 3.5 stars


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