Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Sword and Verse
(Sword and Verse #1)
by Kathy MacMillan
Published: January 19, 2016

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 that Raisa is Arnath, but not that she 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 slipup 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 approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the Resistance could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved, an honorable man 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.

Sword and Verse was one of my most anticipated books of 2016. It's fantasy, it's about sacred languages, and that cover! A combo that got my blood pumping as soon as I heard about this book.

The story happens in the span of two years. And two years in a fantasy setting crammed into 300+ pages? There wasn't much when it came to plot movement and everything was superficial and forgettable. Raisa wasn't a particularly remarkable character. The only thing that kept me going was the hope that it would get better. I didn't hate anything about this book but I didn't love it either. To be honest, I "kind of" liked it. Even Raisa. I would probably love it if only they were given more depth. I didn't mind that the romance was insta-lovey -- a year HAD passed between the first and second chapter. I liked Raisa and Mati and their relationship was bittersweet. But again, I was hoping for more background.

I was confused at first about the main plot. It took me a while to understand the language system, its history, and see the whole picture. In the end, it was still lacking and a bit boring. Although I was satisfied (as satisfied as I could get) with the ending -- it didn't end in a cliffhanger -- I recently learned that there is going to be a sequel coming in 2018. Not sure if I will be ever picking it up but Sword and Verse was fine as a standalone.

*An ARC was provided by the publisher.


  1. Oh, no! I'm sorry you didn't love this one, especially since you had been looking forward to it so much.

    I think it's so interesting that it covers two years. Not many books cover that much time, especially in fantasy novels.

    It's always a bit weird when you read a book that could have been a standalone, and then you find out it's the first in a series. I wish we had more fantasy standalones.

    I hope your next read blows you away, Haraiah!


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